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2018-06-13 / News

Congressional Candidate Rhodes Speaks With Bovina Ladies

By Jesse Hilson


Congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes on a listening tour of Delaware County speaks with Bovina residents. From left: Joan Foster, Rhodes, Annette Robbins. 
Contributed Photo Congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes on a listening tour of Delaware County speaks with Bovina residents. From left: Joan Foster, Rhodes, Annette Robbins. Contributed Photo Democratic primary candidate for New York Congressional District 19 Gareth Rhodes visited the town of Bovina Center on Friday, June 8 on his tour of all 19 towns in Delaware County. Rhodes is up against a full roster of other Democratic primary candidates, of which the winner will challenge Rep. John Faso in the general election in November. The primary is on June 26.

Rhodes met with a group of Bovina residents at Russell’s Store on Main Street for about an hour, listening to their concerns and outlining his priorities should he win the House seat. The discussion ranged from healthcare to infrastructure to the opioid crisis plaguing the region.

Rhodes promised to fight in Washington for recognition of Delaware County’s issues as well as to bring federal money to help solve them. “I want to take local issues, federal money, and make sure the state is focusing on them,” he said, outlining his legislative strategy.

Delaware County is one of three counties in the 19th District that had no maternity wards, Rhodes said, and he further explained how this led to a “spiral” of young people moving out of the area, leading to an erosion of the tax base.

One of Rhodes’ major focuses during the Bovina visit was infrastructure. He said that Delaware County should have a public transportation system to help people who had no car to travel over the county’s long distances to access good healthcare. He also mentioned that EMT services were struggling to get by and that they were consolidating and privatizing over time. Fire departments were also a concern. “One of my proposals is to bring federal funding to help rural municipalities to help fire departments find volunteers,” Rhodes said, as well as saving property owners from paying for essential services.

Rhodes, who is from Kingston, gave his credentials to the Bovina citizens as a person well-suited to represent the 19th District by giving his background. He started out as a water well driller and a volunteer firefighter after high school, went to CUNY in Harlem, before going on to intern at the White House and working in Governor Cuomo’s office as a senior communications staffer from 2010 to 2015. “Of all the primary candidates, I am the only one with government experience in the state,” Rhodes said.

As to what sets him aside from other politicians, Rhodes said, “Politicians don’t show up. They use TV ads and mail pieces, but there’s no actual connection. You don’t hear politicians talking about the lack of maternity services - lack of public transit infrastructure - because those aren’t the issues that you see their consultants are throwing at them.”

He also hit on the perennial issue of water and New York City, saying that while the city owns a lot of land up in Delaware County, “We need to make sure the city is paying their fair share of property taxes. You shouldn’t be paying the property tax for an undeveloped parcel of land. We need to change the formula so it reflects what the property could have been, the potential that has been denied.”

When asked what he as a Congressman could do to reunite a country fractured by partisan anger, he said, “Ninety-five percent of what we’ve talked about today is not a partisan issue. We have an entire congress that doesn’t reflect the actual needs of the community.” Talking about real local issues that everybody could unite over would help heal the divide, he said. He described the trust that the people have lost in the government as something “it has deserved to lose.”

The ladies who met with Rhodes seemed happy with the dialogue after he left, liking that he was well-prepared and especially that he did not attack other candidates. The venue was appreciated as well. “This was so small, he could really look you in the eye,” said Donna Dickson Noonan of Bovina.

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