Granville woman joins crowded Democratic field for Congress

Tanya Boone (Photo provided — Will Schermerhorn)

PLATTSBURGH — A former union organizer from Washington County has joined the already crowded Democratic field in the race to become the candidate to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Tanya Boone, 43, of Granville, who announced her candidacy Thursday, owns a small business, works as a national business manager and says she has spent her entire adult life working for families.

“People who work very hard have gotten a raw deal in Northern New York and rural areas throughout the country,” Boone said in a statement. “The rules of the economy have slowly changed over time to favor the very wealthy over our working families, and our leaders in Washington are making it worse. Simply put, I’m fed up and it’s why I’m running for Congress.”

Primary likely

Boone joins a crowded field with six other declared Democratic candidates: Don Boyajian, an attorney from Cambridge in Saratoga County; Tedra Cobb, a small business owner and former St. Lawrence County legislator from Canton; Ron Kim, a lawyer from Queensbury; Emily Martz, an economic development consultant from Saranac Lake; Patrick Nelson, a political activist from Stillwater in Saratoga County; and Katie Wilson, a small business owner from Keene. A primary is likely to be held next June to determine who will take on Stefanik next November.

Russell Finley, a Republican rancher and former Assembly candidate from Madrid, plans to challenge Stefanik to a primary. Libertarian Christopher Schmidt also plans to run, as does independent Steve Krieg of Plattsburgh.

Willing to listen

Boone said one in five children in the 21st Congressional District live below the poverty line.

“As a mother, I am passionate about changing this. We deserve so much better, but Congresswoman Elise Stefanik does what Washington wants, not what’s best for regular people here,” she said.

“I’ll do things differently. I’ll have town halls and actually listen. I’ll work with anyone if it means getting something done to help Northern New York, and I’ll use my experience to encourage current and new businesses to grow and create good-paying jobs.”

Boone started her career as a union organizer for Service Employees International. She helped nurses, health-care professionals, patient-care assistants and teachers improve their wages, working conditions, and benefits, her release said.

Boone said that watching people transform from frustrated to hopeful through workplace action was a powerful experience for her, and it inspired her to want to create better opportunities at home in Granville and throughout the region.

Employees first

In 2007, Boone and her brother Dan scraped together enough money to buy Granville-based Hilltop Slate from a foreign-owned investor.

Upon taking ownership, they immediately raised employee pay and began using local suppliers whenever they could, her release said.

Boone said that through the years, despite the challenges they faced as a struggling small business, they’ve always prioritized the employees.

Hometown ties

Her family has lived in Washington County for five generations. She was born and raised in Granville and graduated from Granville High School.

She graduated from the Labor School at Cornell University and later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Cornell.

She and her husband, Bob, returned to Granville to raise their 8-year-old son in the home built by her great-great-grandfather. Their son attends the same grade school that Boone did. Her parents live in the house she grew up in, and her three brothers and large extended family also live in the area.

‘Doesn’t give up’

Boone received support for her campaign from the former chair of the Executive Committee of the New York State Democratic Party, Sheila Comar.

“Tanya has her finger on the pulse of the district,” Comar said. “She’s one of us, and she doesn’t give up. She’ll take our fight to Washington and finally get working families a seat at the table again.

“We’re fortunate to have a candidate with Tanya’s energy, values and experience in this race.”

(Editor’s note: Four daily newspapers in the North Country — the Enterprise, Post-Star of Glens Falls, Watertown Daily Times and Press-Republican of Plattsburgh — are sharing content to better cover New York’s 21st Congressional District.)