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Amanda
Kirchgessner

for State Senate District 58

“Serving the people, not special interests.”

 

Meet Amanda

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.

Warmly,

Amanda Kirchgessner

At Your Service

Testimonials

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. 

I am a fervent supporter of Amanda Kirchgessner’s campaign for NYS Senate. My biggest reason, until recently, was her strong support for the NY Health Act, which would provide a Medicare-For-All type system for all New Yorkers. Her opponent Tom O’Mara opposes the bill. Electing Amanda would be a big step toward getting the bill passed.

As her campaign has progressed, something else has also become clear. Amanda Kirchgessner is modeling the kind of campaign that Democrats need to pursue if we’re going to 1) earn the support of rural and working class voters, while 2) pursuing a truly progressive policy agenda. Amanda is doing both, incredibly successfully.

For one thing, she IS a rural, working class person who has experienced the same economic and life challenges these voters often face. With 16 years as a food service worker, she’s able to connect with people at the bottom of the economic heap and help them see the connection between their own situation and the public policy that impacts them on a daily basis.

Amanda does not dismiss, disrespect or demonize those who vote Republican. She has engaged literally hundreds of Republicans and independents, as well as Democrats, in personal conversations about progressive policy ideas. Many of them will be voting for her November 6. Democrats need to learn how to have these conversations and win over these voters to a progressive policy agenda.

Amanda Kirchgessner is an inspirational young leader, a brilliant thinker and a gifted communicator, who represents the future of progressive politics. Democrats need to learn how to encourage and support more candidates like her. Listen up.
— Joanna Green
I want you to know the rest of the story. I want you to know who Amanda Kirchgessner really is.

I have known Amanda since she was born. Her parents and my husband Dave and I were close friends. I watched Amanda as she developed into adulthood.

Amanda learned from the best. Growing up she saw her Mom and Dad working tirelessly and selflessly for the good of their neighbors and community. Whatever the need was, they answered the call. Whether it was providing food for the hungry, providing day care or safe educational programming for children, her Mother was there. Her Father devoted himself to answering some of the most difficult needs in his community responding every time to a call for help as a Fire Fighter and an EMT day or night. First on the scene, always.

Amanda has followed in their footsteps. She is intelligent and an analytical thinker. She is passionate about representing us, the hard-working people in the 58th district, in Albany. She gets it. Healthcare for all, education for our children in our public schools, the needs of our farmers who provide life-giving food for our families, all of us who work hard to make ends meet are uppermost in her concerns. She gets it.

She is focused. She listens to people as they share their stories and struggles. She asks questions. She identifies the needs. She studies the possibilities. She seeks out and finds solutions.

That’s who Amanda Kirchgessner really is.
— Jean Owens
Amanda Kirchgessner is running for State Senate because, in her words, the two greatest problems facing humankind are climate change and wealth inequality and no one in Albany is talking about them. We can’t blame climate change for the very bad week that she has has, but wealth inequality - the fact that she, like most New Yorkers, has limited resources - has had an enormous effect. She was in a car accident on Wednesday and is now without transportation, a severe handicap when trying to cover a four county district. Her supporters will make sure that she gets back on the road, but she does not have the means to immediately replace her car.

Because of the accident, Amanda was unable to attend the Corning Democrats’ Annual meeting, which would have been an opportunity for her to address the other, potentially more damaging, event of this week, namely accusations of abuse from her ex-wife. In an unhappy marriage abuse can take many forms and come from both parties. Amanda describes the relationship as toxic and she tried for years to get out of it. But again, lack of resources made that very difficult. Without adequate health insurance, it is not easy to get emotional counseling. Without extra money in your pocket, you cannot hire a lawyer to help you with a divorce. (New York laws being what they are, getting a divorce is far from easy.)

We can only speculate why Amanda’s ex-wife chose this time to go public with her grievances. The Amanda I know is gentle and warm, loving and compassionate. She is also smart, well-informed and quietly tough. I want her representing me in Albany.
— Elizabeth Whitehouse and Marshall Hyde
I have seen how effective Amanda Kirchgessner is when she works on quite a range of topics. When the Ithaca Urban Redevelopment Agency seemed to have settled on Peak’s plan to rebuild the Green Street Garage so as to provide high-rent apartments and a center for meetings, Amanda looked into the pros and cons and inspired others to speak at a little-publicized early-morning committee meeting. Thanks to her work, attractive new proposals are submitted. The leading one focuses on affordable housing.
— Theresa Alt
I met Amanda during the Bernie campaign, I learned to appreciate her strong work ethic during the Cynthia / Jumaane / Zephyr campaigns, and in the past month I have seen her iron core, as she stands up (and falls, and stands up again) to the pressures of running for office at a mere 34 years of age, with a working-class background, on a shoe-string budget. She is smart and tough — demanding the best of the people around her (especially those who promise to help others who are less fortunate) and demanding even more of herself. She is an unconventional candidate, with entirely the “wrong” resume and without the social and party networks that most candidates bring to their campaigns. She will face a steep learning curve in Albany. But I am confident she will work hard, learn quickly, stay true to her values and make her impact. She will fight for healthcare, for economic justice, and for a livable planet, for all of us.
— Emily Adams

Amanda’s Priorities

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/

Marijuana

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.

SAFE Act

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.

Local Farms

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.

Economic Stimulus 

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.

Jobs

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.

Environmental Sanity

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.

Voting Rights

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.

Strong Schools

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.

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