With the 23rd District Congressional election only a month away, I’m amazed at how little attention has been given in the media to informing the public about the backgrounds and positions of the two candidates.
With that in mind, I’d like to explain why I think Nate Shinagawa would be a great congressman to represent our district in Washington.
Nate Shinagawa is a third-generation Japanese-American who currently works as a hospital administrator at Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., a non-profit medical center nationally recognized for its high quality and low costs. He holds an undergraduate degree in sociology and a master of hospital administration degree from Cornell University. If Nate is elected, we will have someone in Congress who can speak from experience about how to improve our current health care system.
In the political sphere, Nate serves as vice chairman of the Tompkins County Legislature, where he has worked with both Democrats and Republicans to provide county residents with better services at lower costs. He previously worked for two years as a legislative aide to New York Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, where he focused on constituent services. He has served on the board of the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency and the Community Development Corp. All of these experiences have taught him how to motivate people to work together for the common good.
Nate has been a community activist for many years, coordinating successful efforts to protect the rights of abused workers at a local restaurant and to stop the closure of a vitally important nursing home in Tompkins County. He also directed his hospital’s response to the massive flooding that occurred in the central Southern Tier in 2011 due to Tropical Storm Lee. In short, Nate is a doer, not just a talker.
Nate decided to run for Congress after our current congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, voted against federal disaster relief funding for his own district following Tropical Storm Lee. He was also convinced that his education and experience regarding the American health care system would give him a unique perspective on one of the most pressing problems facing America today.
Below is a brief summary of Nate’s positions on some of the key issues in the current election cycle.
1. Health care: Nate is a firm supporter of a single-payer national health care system, but he is also a pragmatist who will work with others (including Republicans) to improve the present system incrementally wherever it can be done.
2. Education: Nate accepts the need for measurements to evaluate how students are progressing through school, but he rejects the narrow testing approach and penalties associated with the No Child Left Behind Act. He believes that schools need to place more emphasis on critical thinking and teamwork alongside traditional academic subjects.
3. Taxes and Jobs: Nate believes that we need to move toward a more progressive tax system in which those who have more pay more and invest the proceeds in infrastructure and other projects that will provide jobs for Americans. He also believes that more attention should be given to promoting manufacturing in the U.S., including our district. He opposes job-destroying free trade agreements such as NAFTA.
4. Foreign Policy: Nate believes that war should be a genuine last option in American diplomacy. He opposes American saber-rattling toward Iran and supports diplomatic efforts and economic pressure to deal with the Iranian regime. He supports efforts to eliminate waste in the Pentagon budget and cut costs by closing military bases.
5. Women’s Rights: Nate is a strong supporter of women’s reproductive rights and pay equity for women.
6. Social Security and Medicare: Nate opposes privatization of Social Security and believes that any long-term solution to its funding problems must involve bipartisan cooperation. He believes that Medicare should be improved, not cut or turned into vouchers.
7. Environment: Nate strongly opposes hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and supports more funding for renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels. He would work to end oil speculation that leads to higher gasoline prices. He believes that climate change is real and must be addressed at the federal level, and he would work to strengthen environmental protections and enforcement of existing laws.
I don’t agree with Nate on every issue, but I’ve had several opportunities to talk with him, and I believe that he is the best congressional candidate that we have had in this district for many years. More information is available at www.nateshinagawa.com.
(Dr. Stanley lives in Olean.)