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NY-19 Decides: Gareth Rhodes

Written By Timothy Knight on 6/20/18 | 6/20/18

"People are actually looking for experience and looking for someone who knows what they're doing..." - Gareth Rhodes.

NY-19 Decides: Gareth Rhodes
By Timothy Knight 
Born and raised on a farm in Esopus, NY-19 congressional candidate and former Cuomo Administration alum Gareth Rhodes told the Mountain Eagle in a recent sit down interview that he is the most experienced candidate running because, "I'm the only candidate running with government experience here in New York State."

Mr. Rhodes, who is a Political Science major from CUNY City College of New York and who has more government experience than his opponents combined at only age 29, is one of seven Democratic candidates vying to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman John Faso in this fall's general election.

Running on a platform that is often more local than national in nature, Mr. Rhodes has struck a chord of identifying community needs in his campaign: increasing cell phone service, hastening the spread of broadband, developing public transportation, and bringing a maternity ward back to underserved communities. 

This local emphasis is due in part to Mr. Rhodes' folksy tour of all 163 towns in the district - which is bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined - in his 1999 Ford Winnebago, where the candidate met the Mountain Eagle for this story.

Although this technique is not new, as former U.S. Senator Scott Brown is renown for his 2010 campaign in his beat up pickup truck in neighboring Massachusetts, it represents a simpler approach in a race that has become defined by candidates spending large amounts of money on mailers, commercials, and consultants. 

"The majority of my challengers are running very much Washington campaigns, which is raise as much money as you can from out of district donors - very wealthy out of district donors - that is the Washington playbook and it has been tried in NY-19 many, many times; I'm doing completely opposite," commented Mr. Rhodes.

In addition to advocating for the aforementioned local issues, Mr. Rhodes is also campaigning on a very strong environmental message. Citing his childhood in the Catskills, he believes in fighting climate change, fully funding the EPA, and protecting air and water and farm land in Congress. 

From drilling water wells before college to protesting against the Iraq War in his youth and working in Governor Cuomo's office for five years, the candidate has a record of deeply intertwined public advocacy that is motivated by his political science bonafides. Mr. Rhodes, in particular, is passionate about health care after having lost a parent to cancer and is in favor of Medicare for All.

Describing the difference between himself and his potential fall GOP rival as, "Like night and day," Mr. Rhodes dinged the one term representative for not holding public meetings and for not showing up in his district, while saying constituents need someone who will "look voters in the eye" and put the district first.

When asked to make his final case to undecided voters, Mr. Rhodes said "Gareth is the best candidate to beat John Faso and he's the best candidate to serve this community because he has taken the time to listen and the needs of each town are the issues he will fight for in Washington, D.C."

Democrats will choose their nominee on Tuesday, June 26th.

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series of interviews with the seven candidates vying for the NY-19 Democratic nomination. All seven interviews will appear in the Friday, June 22nd print edition of the Mountain Eagle.
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