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Tonko, Dieterich vie for Congress

October 29, 2012
By ARTHUR CLEVELAND , The Leader Herald

The economy is a major issue in the race in the 20th district for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Squaring off are Paul D. Tonko, an Amsterdam Democrat who now represents the 21st district, and Bob Dieterich, a Glenville Republican who is running with the additional support of the Conservative Party.

Tonko's current district will become the 20th district on Jan. 1 as a result of this year's redistricting. It will include all of Albany and Schenectady counties and portions of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Montgomery Counties. Johnstown and Gloversville will not be included - they will be part of the new 21st District, which will encompass Northern New York, including the Adirondack Park.

Tonko, whose campaign spending has outpaced his opponent's by a nearly 4-1 ratio, was born in Amsterdam and has been in politics for more than 25 years. Before serving in Washington, he served in the New York State Assembly from 1983 to 2007 and was president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority from 2007 to 2008.

Tonko says his opponent supports Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's federal budget-cutting plan, which Tonko says would be a bad move.

"The Paul Ryan budget isn't merely a discussion draft or some abstract theory. If Paul Ryan and Tea Party Republicans had their way, it would be the official tax-and- spending document of the United States government," Tonko said.

Dieterich said he never endorsed the plan, but said there needs to be a plan beyond taxing and spending.

Tonko said there needs to be a plan to help stimulate the growth of the middle class through investments in green-color jobs and other methods of investment. He said the Republican plan of what he called trickle-down economics does not work.

"The tax relief must come from middle class," Tonko said.

Tonko said there would need to be much more cooperation between the two parties to get the Farm Bill, which expired in September, renewed. The bill, still under discussion, has been held up by what Tonko refers to as "party politics."

He said he believes the Republican leadership wanted to break up the bill and not allow it to progress, leading to its expiration.

Dieterich, raised in Glenville, currently serves as the senior vice president and CFO for the First National Bank of Scotia. He also served in the New York Air National Guard for more than a decade, rising to the rank of captain. He also served on the zoning board of appeals for Glenville and a chairman on the Independent Bankers Association.

According to Dieterich, his policies will be focused on solving what he considers wasteful spending, legacy entitlements such as the current system of Medicare, and poor congressional oversight.

"Our government gets bigger and bigger; we add regulations, we add agencies, but we never take anything away. If you are in business, you know that you find ways to become more efficient. We are not doing that."

Dieterich said Medicare and Medicaid are not viable for a long-term solution. He would propose Congress make immediate changes to the system to try to preserve the benefits.

"We can't bury our head in the sand and pretend it is not happening," Dieterich said.

Dieterich said these changes could include raising the age of those who could gain benefits or excluding some economic groups.

Dieterich said the Affordable Care Act, known to some as Obamacare, was unsuccessful. He said the bill has not provided any of the benefits it had promised.

"We have had the bill for three years, we haven't found any fraud, we haven't found any savings," Dieterich said.

According to Federal Election Commission documents, Tonko received $906,465 in campaign contributions from Jan. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012, and spent $550,585 during that period.

The documents show Dieterich received $191,926 in campaign contributions from Feb. 15 to Sept. 30 and spent $145,939.

The 20th district will include all of Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery and Schoharie counties and parts of Saratoga, Rensselaer and Fulton counties.

Representative serve two-year terms and are paid a salary of $174,000 per year.

Editor's note: This story has been revised from its original version to correct the description of the new 20th Congressional District.



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