Does NY-21 have a leader in Washington or a follower?

To the editor:

A leader initiates. A follower responds.

A leader is proactive. A follower is reactive.

A leader explains her decisions according to her convictions. A follower acts.

In the last few weeks, we have seen two significant decisions come out of Washington that have a direct impact on the North Country, first about health care and then about climate change. In both cases, residents of New York’s 21st Congressioanl District asked Rep. Stefanik her thoughts regarding the decision that was about to be made on our behalf.

But Stefanik sat silent. Instead of being proactive, she was reactive. She waited to say anything until things were a done deal. And in both cases, after decisions were made, she blamed others for the problems. And when people disagreed with her vote on health care, she railed against them.

After Obama brought the United States into the Paris accord in 2016, Stefanik said he had overstepped his bounds. After Trump pulled out of the Paris accord last week, Stefanik called his decision “misguided.” Where was she in between these two decisions, other than to criticize Obama? Why did she not present an alternative to the terms of the Paris accord? Before Trump’s decision, why did she not weigh in? We have known since Trump was elected that there was a chance he would withdraw. As his decision drew near, Stefanik’s constituents asked her to speak up. She stayed silent. Many people encouraged Stefanik to defend the health of our region by urging Trump not to withdraw. She said nothing.

It was not until Trump acted that Stefanik moved. After he led, she followed. She never initiated her own thoughts, at least not that she shared with her constituents.

Also consider Stefanik’s vote on the American Health Care Act. While her vote itself is concerning because it will likely leave tens of thousands of North Country residents without health care, what is also troubling is that we have no idea what our representative’s core values and principles are. The basic questions that everyone voting on health care should answer are, “Should everyone get quality health care? If not, how do you decide who does get it? If so, who pays for it?”

These questions are at the crux of the debates surrounding health care, and she has never addressed them. We have no idea what her core principles are. And yet she is making decisions on our behalf.

Furthermore, a leader tells us how she will fix a problem. A follower tells us there is a problem. Stefanik told us there was a problem with the Affordable Care Act. She said that she would replace it. And then she told us there are problems with the replacement. She has yet to tell us how she will fix those.

What, Rep. Stefanik, do you believe? According to what principles are you voting? Do you believe that everyone should have quality health care? If not, how are you deciding who gets it and who doesn’t? Do you believe that climate change is real and that it will hurt our region if left unchecked? If so, why didn’t you say anything until it was too late?

NY-21 needs a leader, not a follower.

Emily Martz

Saranac Lake