I’m Amanda Kirchgessner. I am not a typical candidate for office. I entered the race in February this year when nobody was willing to step up and give voters a choice in November. I come to the table with over 17 years of experience serving people—all kinds of people—in restaurants and retail. I have washed dishes, cooked on lines, bartended and waited tables. I took a leave of absence from waitressing in March of this year to pursue this effort to become your representative in Albany.
I have served thousands of real live people from across this district. They have tremendous insights on how everyday life works and what we could do to improve our communities. I am tired of elected officials on both sides of the aisle telling us we don’t know what is best for us. I cry foul. Growing up in a politically well-balanced community, members of the “other party” were never my enemy, they were my neighbors. And we need to return to this common sense approach to political service. We need to start talking to our neighbors again.
Aside from common sense and respect for all people, I bring many years of community service and activism into this race for the heart of district 58. I am a volunteer at my local food pantry. (Being a client here through this race has enabled me to run.) I am the treasurer of the Jacksonville Community Association in the rural hamlet where I live. I am also the vice-chair of the Tompkins Employees Federal Credit Union. I recognize how far we can stretch a dollar in our local economies. And when we bring more voices to the table, I know we can create solutions that will work for everyone.
I would be honored to have your support on November 6th. Please vote for Amanda Kirchgessner for New York State Senate. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm.
At Your Service
As I campaign across the district, meeting new people and strengthening relationships, I ask, “What is important to you? What can I do to better serve you in Albany?” Here are some testimonials from those I am seeking to better represent in our State Senate.
The Southern Tier of New York is beautiful and the people here are warm and generous. My family has lived here for seven generations, raising children, growing and canning vegetables, volunteering at the local fire department, supporting our neighbors.
What will be here for the coming generations? Will we have water we can drink, thriving farms, clinics and schools, locally-owned businesses and communities that care for everyone? Or will we be swimming in toxic waste and hurling blame and insults at our neighbors?
Climate change is coming, whether or not we believe that human activity is causing it. Storms and flooding are becoming common, abnormal temperatures are damaging crops, and invasive species, insects and diseases are gaining a foothold. Most importantly, climate refugees will be migrating to our region, to escape sea level changes and droughts in other areas of the country. We must be ready, with environmental protections and careful urban and rural planning in place.
The country could be turning to us for safe and dependable food and water in the near future. They could also be looking to us for industrial hemp and other new products. I support expanding and diversifying our agricultural base, in order to take advantage of these opportunities. But we must act sustainably. A focus on maximum short-term profit has created the mess we are in right now.
We must end our dependence on dirty and dangerous fossil fuels, and transition quickly to green energy and new technologies. Fortunately, these industries will be able to offer great jobs to local workers. Good jobs are vital if we want to lift our region out of poverty and reduce the burdens on our local governments. We don’t need expensive tax incentives to multinational companies, we don’t need hundreds of low-paying service sector jobs -- we need small, responsible companies who will train and hire our local people and treat them well.
The New York Health Act will make it easier for people to start their own small businesses and it will attract existing companies interested in relocating to New York. No one benefits from endless paperwork or from employees who are sidelined by illness or injuries. No one, that is, except the CEOs at insurance companies and drug companies. New York can lead the way to sensible health care for our whole country, if we can elect just one more State Senator who wants to pass the NY Health Act.
I am running for State Senate to try to be that voice. My background is unconventional; I am not a lawyer or businessman, I am a waitress. I don’t work 9 to 5, I don’t have a retirement plan, I don’t own stock. My issues are simple, bread & butter issues that I think most people in this district can appreciate. Too many of us live from paycheck to paycheck. We need healthcare, food, and housing we can afford. America is the wealthiest country on earth and yet it feels like we are all fighting among ourselves for tiny crumbs. When everyone has the basic necessities, then we can talk about tackling the big challenges, together.
New York Health Act
With skyrocketing costs, and scarce medical services, rural districts are in a healthcare crisis. The New York Health Act (SB4840) would provide every New Yorker easy and affordable access to the health care they need. It would eliminate the unfunded Medicaid mandates that are bankrupting rural counties, allowing local governments to enact the biggest property tax cut in New York history. The New York Health Act would be a game changer for small businesses, who would no longer need to worry about insurance premiums that go up and up. It would stimulate the economy by allowing workers to leave their jobs and start their own businesses, without fear of going uninsured.
We can treat everyone, help our economy, and save money. We can cover preventative care, mental health care, vision and dental, long term care, and prescriptions, for less than we spend now. The hugely profitable health care insurance industry and drug industry would lose, but everyone else would win. Anyone can learn more about the New York Health Act here: https://www.nyhcampaign.org/
The New York Health Act has passed the Assembly. I will co-sponsor it in the Senate.
Child Victims Act
Most people who were sexually abused as children never report it. Among those who report, it takes years, and often decades, to recognize the harm that was caused, by which time the statute of limitations has long past. The Child Victims Act would allow survivors to bring a civil lawsuit up to age 50. Currently, they have until their 23rd birthdays to bring cases. The bill also includes a one-year window for older child sex abuse survivors to file a lawsuit. I support this bill because I want victims to have their day in court and a chance for closure and some compensation, and I want serial offenders to be identified and measures taken to protect other potential victims.
The New York Child Victims Act (A.1771/S.6367) has passed the Assembly and I will co-sponsor it in the Senate. Learn more at http://keepkidssafe.org/2018-child-victims-act/
I am in favor of legalizing adult use of recreational marijuana in New York State. Marijuana sales should be taxed and the money used to help people who are trapped by addiction. The farming and processing of recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and industrial hemp would all bring jobs and revenue to our state. I believe individual adults should be allowed to grow small amounts of marijuana for their own use.
We need to repeal the SAFE Act. It is ineffective and highly volatilizing. The current political climate around the SAFE act is inhibiting meaningful dialogue around a wide range of issues where we desperately need fuller cooperation. I want to see us create better gun legislation by bringing the most affected parties to the table: responsible gun owners, victims of gun violence, law enforcement officials, and healthcare professionals.
Small-scale sustainable farms protect our environment and biodiversity and deserve support. Farmers shouldn’t need second jobs to survive. I will work to support farmers by supporting the New York Health Act, because I know that healthcare coverage is one of their major concerns. I will also support immigration reform, because so many of our farmers rely on migrant labor. A state bank would help farmers access necessary capital.
Traditional economic growth is not necessarily desirable, when it comes at the expense of our environment, our children, our communities and our future. However, the right kind of economic stimulus can be very helpful. We can improve the lives of working people through universal healthcare, affordable childcare, affordable housing in the same areas where employment opportunities exist, investments in green energy, and a state bank that is able to provide a source of local capital. I will support all these priorities.
Reproductive Health Act
The New York Reproductive Health Act (S2796) states: “Complex and personal decisions about reproductive healthcare are the sole right and responsibility of a woman and her medical providers.” I do not want to see New York return to the not-so-distant past when women died from back alley abortions, leaving grief-stricken children and family members to carry on without them. I support access to affordable birth control and maternity care and services.
New Yorkers receiving unemployment and welfare benefits would rather be working. Work brings social contact, a sense of purpose, and dignity. Our state could create hundreds of thousands of full-time, union jobs in a broad range of sectors. A New York state jobs guarantee (a proposition supported by 71% of New Yorkers) would bring massive investments in infrastructure and services throughout the state. Instead of giving tax breaks to developers, we can bring broadband internet, rural health clinics, and renewable energy to the Southern Tier as well as restore crumbling roads and bridges throughout District 58. Investing in New York residents will build local economies for future generations.
Criminal Justice Reform
As with most societal problems, we should start with prevention whenever possible. The best deterrents to criminal activity are educational opportunities and job opportunities. Beyond that, our current punitive system is too expensive and it is failing our families. We need real alternatives to incarceration. I support eliminating cash bail statewide (Assembly Bill A08820). Cash bail puts those accused of nonviolent offenses and folks unable to pay bail behind bars unnecessarily. It can cost them their jobs and hurt their families, all at a huge cost to taxpayers. I also support more treatment facilities for those struggling with addiction. Drug addiction should be treated as a healthcare problem, not a criminal problem.
Our lakes are the heart of our district. Rising temperatures, increased flooding, and continued fertilizer runoff are creating more toxic algae blooms each year, killing fish, poisoning drinking water supplies, and threatening recreational activities. Tourism and agriculture sustain many of our small communities. Without healthy lakes and waterways, our local economies will suffer.
I will insist we do more than study the problem. We need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. The production, transfer, and storage of fossil fuels are all major threats to our environment. We have to invest in alternatives and protect our water, land and air. The solutions are already known—we need to act.
New Yorkers deserve early voting, easy absentee voting, easy registration, and one single primary, like most other states have. Leaders in both parties prefer to suppress the vote among young people and people who change addresses frequently -- the voters who are most interested in changing the status quo.
Return to Integrity
Corporate lobbyists and big money have bought off too many of our politicians. We need campaign finance reform and term limits. I will push for 8-year term limits to prevent entrenched incumbents from forgetting who they serve. I will also support ending extra pay for committee chairs, known as lulus, which encourage corruption. And I will support moves to redefine positions in the Assembly and Senate as full-time positions, with higher salaries if necessary, and prohibitions on outside income.
We need to cut down on standardized testing, allow teachers to give students more attention, and support students with Head Start and school meals. Higher education -- whether academic, professional or trade-based -- needs to be accessible to all who want it.