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Dems participate in 19th Congressional District forum

Three candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination in New York’s 19th congressional district. They’re trying to shore up support in the newly drawn district which stretches west from Tompkins County to the Hudson River.

The three Democrats presented their views in a forum hosted by the Tompkins County Democratic Committee Monday.

Jamie Cheney is a farmer and small business owner in Dutchess County. She said her top issue going into the race is affordability for working people.

“Obviously food costs are a huge concern,” Cheney said. “So, I see the issues that are facing our nation in tandem with the issues that are facing people's wallets."

The other challengers in the race include Josh Riley, a former staff lawyer for the U.S. Senate. Riley said his primary focus is on good government issues like campaign finance.

“We have a campaign finances system that is an absolute cesspool,” Riley said. “We have dark money. We have special interests. We have corporate PAC's flooding our elections, buying politicians and sending them to Washington to do their bidding instead of working for working folks.”

Osun Zotique director of an LGBTQ advocacy group in Hudson, is also running for the seat. They said their top priority is ensuring existing government programs are being implemented to benefit everyone.

"I'm heartbroken that 38 percent of people without access to broadband internet might not be able to log onto healthcare.gov and take access of all of the existing benefits that are basic quality of life things that are fully afforded to them, again, under existing statute,” Zotique said.

Congressional primary elections will take place Aug. 23.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.