Green Party candidate Matthew J. Funiciello knows that he may not necessarily win this year's 21st Congressional district race. But the goal, he said, is more about getting more votes than Democratic candidate William "Mike" Derrick.
In a Times editorial board meeting Wednesday, Mr. Funiciello discussed the progress of his second campaign for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro. In the 2014 election, Mr. Funiciello lost to Ms. Stefanik, who pulled away with 53 percent of the vote. Then-Democratic candidate Aaron G. Woolf finished with 32 percent. Mr. Funiciello did, however, secure 11 percent of the vote.
In this election, riding on the heels of the movement spurred by former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, Mr. Funiciello said he could make more progress.
"I think a lot of cracks are going to happen this election cycle as a result of Bernie running in the Democratic primaries," he said. "One of them might see me elected, but I don't really think that's what's going to happen. I think what's going to happen is I'm going to beat the Democrat in this election cycle and I'm going to show that we really better talk together about doing something with the voters who are out there for the next election cycle."
Mr. Funiciello will participate in a Monday debate with his two opponents hosted by Time Warner Cable. The debate will air at 7 p.m. on channel 200.
On the issues, Mr. Funiciello said he opposes international trade deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and argued that deals need better negotiation in order to protect jobs.
In this district, Mr. Funiciello said, tourism and agri-business are becoming primary industries, with workers in those industries not being paid enough to create a robust economy. He supports increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. New York state is rolling out that wage over the next several years. He also said he'd support a wage tied to the cost of housing, or even a wage tied to productivity.
Mr. Funiciello also continues to advocate for a national single-payer health care system as well as keeping American troops out of foreign conflicts by giving them jobs at home. He noted that a decreased U.S. military presence in the Middle East could lessen the threat of terrorism.
"Our experiences in the Middle East should tell us there is no right answer to anything we are going to do over there as long as it is being done with a gun," he said.
On the presidential election front, Mr. Funiciello mirrored the opinion of his party's presidential nominee, Jill E. Stein, in that Republican nominee Donald J. Trump may be the "lesser of two evils" because he will be constantly obstructed by Democrats and Republicans if elected.
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