With Elise Stefanik, the North Country’s representative in the House under immense speculation, criticism and scrutiny for her comments before and after the protests at the nation’s capitol, local representatives, officials and constituents spoke with NYVT Media on their thoughts of what transpired.
State Sen. Dan Stec expressed his stance on the Jan. 6 events via text message.
“The violence we saw in Washington D.C. is totally unacceptable. The peaceful exercise of the right to protest is vital to the health of our democracy,” Stec said. “So, too, is the maintenance and respect of law and order. There is no room for this kind of behavior in any part of America.”
Stec was understanding of the anger possessed by pro-Trump Americans, but said it needs to be portrayed in a safe, legal way.
“There’s obviously a lot of frustration across the political spectrum, but that can never be an excuse for public disorder that puts lives at risk,” Stec said. “(Jan 6.’s) outcome was tragic and it shouldn’t have happened. As a nation and in our communities, we can’t lose sight of what’s most important in our lives and the example we set for our children. Passionate disagreement is not only good, it is essential. But, we have to find a way to tone down the often overheated rhetoric that can lead to situations in which people get hurt and property needlessly damaged.”
In regards to his security and safety at the Senate in Albany, Stec confirmed he was protected.
“Security at the State Capitol in Albany changed dramatically after 9/11. With COVID, very few people not having business in the building are allowed in,” Stec said. “I think what would help at this time is for leaders in both political parties, as well as those with large audiences in (the) media, to focus on substance over rhetoric.”
Assemblyman Matt Simpson was in Horicon when contacted for a comment, stating he was unaware of any issues that could have occurred in Albany.
“I haven’t heard of any change in security today in Albany,” Simpson said.
Simpson described the events at the capitol building as “horrific” and “tragic.”
“I don’t think anyone should be standing for any violence,” Simpson said. “Violence, there’s no room for violence.”
Referencing voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, Simpson says it’s time to move on.
“I have not witnessed any issues in the New York elections,” Simpson said. “The courts ruled on those, the election commissioners have confirmed those results. That’s how we have to move forward.”
Simpson emphasized that the elected officials who serve Americans throughout the country need to recognize the power and significance of each move and word they make, as they are looked up to for guidance and political direction.
“I think it’s incumbent upon us as representatives to Americans that we’re aware of the words we say mean things,” Simpson said. “We need to be mindful that our words and actions have implications.”
Speaking on the protests and reflecting on prior experiences in Washington D.C., Simpson was shocked to see how the protestors were able to force themselves into the capitol building.
“I’ve never felt unsafe when I was in Washington D.C.,” Simpson said. “It is surprising they (protestors) found ways to smash windows and go into representatives’ offices.”
Granville Mayor Paul Labas said he did not want comment on a situation he knew little about, as he was stuck with work priorities and was unaware of the Stefanik happenings. However, Labas spoke on the national scene and his hopes for the nation.
“This needs to be a peaceful transition of power,” Labas said. “I don’t condone any kind of violence whatsoever.”
Whitehall Mayor Phil Smith said that he was emotional watching the events unfold at the Capitol on Wednesday. Earlier in the day the Washington County Democratic Committee called for Stefanik to resign from her position.
Smith echoed that sentiment.
“If they sent me a petition or wanted me to sign something I would,” he said. “I agree.”
After Congress got back to work Wednesday evening, Stefanik stuck her ground and objected to a few states’ electoral vote counts, including that of Pennsylvania.
Joe Swahn, of Whitehall, said that these actions are totally within her constitutional right and legal.
But he said that her actions don’t seem to coincide with her objectives.
“I think there are fundamental differences between her actions and intentions. Her actions are misguided, yet legal,” Swahn said.
Even though he feels her actions are fallacious, he doesn’t think the calls for resignation are warranted.
“I don’t think it was an egregious action that warrants asking for a resignation,” he said.
When she heard of those calling for the resignation of Stefanik, Lyn Parisi of Dresden said that she didn’t have an opinion on the matter. But she did have higher hopes for the future.
“I only hope she can keep working for our North Country,” Parisi said. “Holding up her promises she made during her campaign.”
Opinions have been shared throughout the election cycle and Parisi said that we all know the difference in those opinions.
She said that we as Americans are better that the rioting she witnessed.
“We now just need to unite under our new president and start the healing process,” she said.
Dawn VanDerwarker of Whitehall said that she supports Stefanik 100% in her efforts to look into the election.
“I think it’s kind of a shame everybody is so hyperbolic about looking into it when there is suspicion,” she said. “The best thing is to look into it. You can’t avoid it, you’re not going to bring unity to the country.”
She applauded Stefanik for standing for what she believed in while objecting to the certification of the presidential win of Joe Biden, saying that she supports looking into the election.
She said that Stefanik is a fighter.
“I think we need more fighters,” VanDerwarker said. “I think it’s a shame, we don’t have enough of them.”
Jeff Anderson, Granville, said he was sadly anticipating a reaction to the degree of what was seen on Wednesday.
“I was not surprised and have been warning of such a thing for months. Violence has been promised from the top down,” Anderson said. “The only surprise was the serious lack of security around the capitol building given the known threats.”
After being asked for his thoughts on Rep. Stefanik’s leadership, Anderson’s response was blunt.
“Leadership doesn’t describe her,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s stance on politics in today’s society creates a scary thought of “where do we go from here?”
“Social barriers have been toppled, decency and rule of law mean nothing to a large portion of our populace. I don’t think the violence is over, it was dealt with poorly,” Anderson said.
“Intimidation has gained a foothold as a so-called political strategy. Truth and facts are not subjective, but are treated as such. The next month will tell us a lot.”
Lindsey Liebig of Granville left a short but effective comment on the Granville Sentinel’s Facebook post regarding the situation, resulting in 22 reactions.
”She (Stefanik) has a hand in this and should be expelled from Congress,” Liebig said.
Some pro-Stefanik comments on the posts commended Stefanik for standing her ground “for our constitutional right for a fair election process,”ofa nd that “she is good for New York.”
Meriel Brooks of North Hebron sounded off with a Facebook comment displaying her sentiments for Stefanik.
“Elise Stefanik is a tool of Donald Trump, hoping to ride the coattails of his populist movement into more power over the next several years,” Brooks said. “I am absolutely positive that if the population of her district really wants a Republican (for reasons that escape me but never mind that) one who is a better human being can be found and trotted out for the next election.”
Brooks elaborated passionately on her feelings of Stefanik and her capabilities as an elected official in Washington D.C.
“At a time when she should be focusing on keeping people safe from COVID, she is busy trying to find Donald Trump’s 11,788 nonexistent ‘votes.’ Her support of this latest series of ‘objections’ which fed the vanity of a would-be dictator in order to keep her on the in with his supporters for future elections, and look at the result. Her statement was followed by continuing the objection to certified electoral votes in other states, so it cannot be considered as a real condemnation of anything,” Brooks said.
“In my view she is unfit for office, as is anybody who sold their values out for power. This is a difficult district for a Democrat to win in, and I am a Democrat who supported Tedra Cobb in the last election. However, I do believe that there are also good people who are Republicans and who could do a much better job than Stefanik has. She should resign, she is unfit for public office.”