At the Cornell Democrats Town Hall discussion on Wednesday, congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano J.D. ’95 discussed her motivation for running for office and voiced her support for campaign finance reform and a single-payer healthcare system.
Mitrano is currently running as the democratic candidate for New York’s 23rd district congressional seat, the district which covers Tompkins County, against incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
At the event, Mitrano mentioned that she wanted to run for public office after the 2016 presidential election, when she realized that this region needs a new voice. She believes her own unique background in cybersecurity makes her a compelling candidate.
“As I watched this country move into directions that genuinely concerned me, I became more thoughtful about what I could do to help,” Mitrano said. “After the election I checked to see if anyone in Congress has this background in cybersecurity and it turns out that no one does.”
After considering reaching out to Reed, her congressional representative, to discuss her concerns about the current state of the country, Mitrano realized that she was in a position to take the plunge into politics in order to deal with the issues herself.
Mitrano also believes that this district is made of working and middle class people and needs policies that reflect such. According to Mitrano, this district doesn’t have the same demographic makeup as a place like downtown Manhattan.
“We don’t have a lot of millionaires to serve with tax policies that privilege the wealthy and ultimately take advantage of poor people and middle class people,” Mitrano said.
Campaign finance reform is an issue that she is really passionate about, and she said she would like to “wave a magic wand” in Congress to make it happen.
“I believe campaign finance reform, in some ways, I don’t mean to be simplistic, is the root of all of our evils,” Mitrano said. “It’s hard to talk about for a broader scope because you want to be sure that people understand what it connects to in their world.”
She has personally received endorsements from groups such as End Citizens United and Patriotic Millionaires, organizations that address campaign finance and equal political representation.
Mitrano said her first step for reform would be transparency and she said she isn’t opposed to restrictions on the financing of elections. According to her, an ideal situation, which is currently present in other countries, is a system where elections are financed by governments and candidates each receive a set amount of money.
Mitrano labels herself as a centrist and believes she has the ability to connect with moderates and voters who are not aligned with parties. According to Mitrano, it is those voters who are not affiliated with a party that decide elections.
Mitrano was able to talk with a group of Republican constituents in the Hammondsport, NY region after she won the democratic primary election. They were disturbed with the rhetoric of President Donald Trump and the way he speaks about disabled people. According to Mitrano, they were concerned that Reed doesn’t stand up to Trump.
“Sometimes it’s a matter of leadership and then people will talk about policies,” Mitrano said.
On the topic of higher education, Mitrano said that free education may come with “unintended consequences” and she believes in the diversity of the current education system. Instead, she would like to work towards reducing interests rates on federal loans.
“I think the best way to approach that issue is to bring the interest rates down in the federally secured loans,” Mitrano said. “We can also work with the colleges, state-colleges, state-universities to make education more bearable, private universities too.”
In regards to healthcare, Mitrano believes in a single-payer health care system. Under this system, healthcare would be financed by a single public entity through taxes and all residents would be covered for essential medical services.
“I think a single-payer system that is brought in incrementally but is designed to have coverage for everyone, is the best way to go,” Mitrano said. “I believe that our problem right now is that there is no real competition in the market.”
“That is true for the drug companies and the prices they set, and it is true for the health maintenance organizations,” Mitrano continued.
When asked if she would be apart of an effort to investigate the claims of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the conduct of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh if elected to Congress, Mitrano responded by saying that she would like to address the process of his nomination.
“We either need to do something so that when these situations come up we don’t revert to an FBI doing an investigation that is inconclusive on the merits of what the complaints were and we need to have a proper process of ways to get these candidates when potentially actionable issues arise.”
The talk was hosted by the Cornell Democrats and moderated by the organization’s president Isabelle De Brabanter ’19. She believed it was important to bring candidates to campus so students could be familiar with who was running ahead of the election.
“I think Cornell students need to see who they are voting for, who is their district. Cornell students need to know that they are in a really competitive race, that their voice counts,” De Brabanter told The Sun.