CORNING — Rick Gallant, a Corning teacher and basketball coach, declared his candidacy Wednesday for the Democratic nomination for the 23rd Congressional District.
Gallant has served as a teacher and basketball coach in the Corning-Painted Post School District for the past 17 years. If he receives the nomination next year, Gallant would face four-term Corning Republican Rep. Tom Reed.
In an interview with the Olean Times Herald, Galant said he had filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and is looking forward to hitting the campaign trail.
Gallant said he was among several interested candidates who were interviewed last month by the Democratic chairmen of the 11 counties in the 23rd Congressional District.
“There’s one advantage to being a teacher,” he said. “You have summers off. I’m going to shake every hand in the district, then shake them again.”
Active in the New York State United Teachers, Gallant said he is already familiar with much of the 23rd Congressional District through the frequent NYSUT meetings he attends across the Southern Tier.
“The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when Tom Reed was in the district and saying how concerned he was for families,” Gallant said.
That was after Reed and other House Republicans “ripped up the Affordable Care Act. What he’s saying and doing are two different things. I think it was a mistake to throw out the ACA. We need to slow down and tweak some things.”
A former assistant college basketball coach and sportswriter, Gallant and his wife, Amy, moved to the area 20 years ago and operated a small business running whitewater rafting tours.
“I am an educator, coach and father who has devoted his life to educating young people and serving our communities,” Gallant said. “I look forward to taking that work ethic and focus to Congress to ensure our children have a bright future, and to bring good jobs to our district.”
Gallant said Reed is “voting in lockstep with Donald Trump and his party. He says one thing here at home, but votes another way once he’s in Washington. It’s time for a representative who will deliver more than lip service.”
As a teacher and coach, Gallant said he knows that children need the skills and abilities to succeed in the 21st century, while all should be given the opportunity to attend college if they qualify, and not forced to graduate burdened with huge loan debt.
“I ran a small business and I understand the opportunities and challenges our families face,” Gallant said. “We can grow the local economy and bring jobs back to the region by enacting tax reform that supports middle-class families and eliminating wasteful spending.”
He said that repealing the Affordable Care Act and putting insurance companies in charge of healthcare would be disastrous.
“And as the father of two daughters,” Gallant said, “I won’t sit silently as Rep. Reed and President Trump cut off funding for Planned Parenthood.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)