Candidate follows a Golden rule

Last year, I decided to run for public office. I’d not had any previous experience in politics. In the process, I learned much about the world of politics, and became completely engrossed in it.

It was then that I started following the congressional race for New York’s 23rd district, as incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s challengers began to step up one by one. Early on, I was interested in Ian Golden’s campaign, but too involved in my own to dedicate much energy to that race.

Election day came and went, and I started paying more and more attention. The field of Democratic candidates narrowed as the weeks went on, and I found myself with unprecedented access to those involved, hearing them speak many times, and getting to know them all on a level I’d not have expected from those running for our House of Representatives. It took me a long time to decide fully who to support; not because I was unsure of the candidates, but because this is not something I take lightly, and I took the time to take in as much information as I could.

After many months of weighing options, I accepted a position with Ian Golden’s campaign … the same campaign that had drawn me in last summer when I spoke with him after one of Reed’s town halls, and the same that continued to reel me in time and time again. Even as I considered volunteering for other candidates, I found myself always circling back to Ian Golden. Why?

When evaluating candidates, my top criteria have always been knowledge and stance on the issues, ethics and integrity, and electability. I believe that Ian has shown himself to be top of the class in each of these. Ian got into this race for the same reasons that I ran for office and became involved in his campaign: He had reached a tipping point and was concerned about the future that was being created for his children. He came to the realization, as did I, that no one would advocate for his (or my, or your) children as he would; that nothing would change unless people were willing to step up to make the changes they wanted to see … and so he did. We are the leaders we’ve been looking for all along.

Ian is a small-business owner from Ithaca. He is a husband and father. He is not an academic, a veteran, an attorney, a career politician. He is one of us. He has walked the walk … he has petitioned for and invested in renewable energies. He is the only candidate in the democratic primary to have created and maintained jobs at a living wage right here in our district. His passion and drive are what have led him to this race.

Ian stands firm in support of economic and social justice, and as a representative, would work hard to equally represent all members of our district. In speaking with him about the issues that affect us right here in Chautauqua County, it is clear that this is not about him, or any other politician currently holding office. He is driven by a desire to understand, and is careful to see things from all angles and viewpoints, letting each inform his decisions. This makes him easily relatable, even for those of differing beliefs. This, along with his knowledge of the issues, and his ability to remain cool, calm, and collected under pressure, are among the reasons that I believe he is the most electable candidate in this race.

One thing in particular that stood out to me about Ian’s campaign was his dedication to integrity and campaign finance reform. Ian would like to see Citizens United overturned, and I agree wholeheartedly. Too long have special interests and money had a stronghold on our democracy. Ian has vowed not to accept any corporate PAC money. His campaign is based first and foremost in honesty and integrity, and I would not be working for him (or writing this) otherwise. Frankly, I am sick and tired of wealthy candidates, funded and elected by their wealthy colleagues, to represent the wealthy. I am ready for real representation, by and for real people, who view holding office as the public service that it is; not as a career choice or retirement fund.

Too often I hear the words “it doesn’t really matter anyway; my vote doesn’t count for anything.” Understand that even if you choose not to be involved in politics, it does affect nearly every aspect of your daily life in one way or another. We can make a difference, if we care enough to do so. We so often begrudge those in office, and yet we allow them to continue to hold that power of making decisions for our futures. On June 26, I urge you to vote for Ian Golden in the Democratic primary, and again on Nov. 6 in the general election.

Vote for the candidate with fresh energy, with integrity, with empathy, who seeks out complete knowledge to make truly informed decisions for our district. Vote for the candidate who is running for the right reasons, and is driven by a desire to understand not just those who are inclined to agree with him, but all who are willing to share their views.

Of all the candidates, Ian has the best ability to reach out across party lines to gain insight and work toward real solutions. He is the best suited to work as our representative in Washington, and we would be lucky to have him.

Leslie Wille is a Fredonia resident.