The purpose of this blog is to promote a discussion of issues affecting Chemung County. With November 6th fast approaching, and an unprecedented number of people running for local office, the elections themselves are relevant to that discussion right now. Even though there are many contested races, the race in the 7th District is clearly the one I know best.
I am incredibly proud of the positive, hopeful and diverse characteristics of my campaign team. Our team is comprised of members of many different political parties, along with folks who are not affiliated with a party at all, and it includes many people who have never been involved with political activities in their lives. We have men, women, retirees, new parents, children, teachers, business leaders, engineers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, stay-at-home moms and dads, caregivers and many others all working together for one singular purpose: to help improve Chemung County. There is no question people want more for our community, and the actions of these volunteers and hundreds of others out there campaigning for local candidates across the area shows we are willing to hard to bring about the change we need.
Our team has been at it since February 23, 2018, when we assembled for the first time on a cold winter night at Charlie’s Cafe to kick things off.
A month later we formally announced our campaign, and unveiled a video featuring members of the community talking about why they support our efforts.
In June we held a fundraiser at the Federal Building in downtown Elmira. We chose that location because the building itself symbolizes our community: it is beautiful with a deep, rich history, and is slowly being restored through the dedication and hard work of some new people. Honoring the past while celebrating the future is what this campaign is all about.
From that point on we have been hard at work getting out to meet the voters. We collected petition signatures, took in nearly $30,000 in donations, put out almost 500 lawn signs, sent several mailers with more than 1,700 postcards ready to go, held a Town Hall meeting and spent countless nights and weekends on our neighbors’ porches talking about how we can all work together to move our community forward in a positive direction.
On October 25, 2018, I finally had a chance to go head-to-head with my opponent, current 7th District Legislator Neil Milliken, at a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters, YWCA and the NAACP.
A full recording of the question and answer session from the forum can be viewed here.
As the campaign winds down, Neil Milliken continues to question my fitness to serve. Just this morning he appeared on the Frankly Speaking radio show where stated I am relative newcomer to the area, I lack governmental experience, and my history with political parties renders me inconsistent and unreliable.
This is an audio clip from the show:
I grew up in Pine City near the Fair Shake Ice Cream store where my parents, who started dating in 10th grade at Southside High School, still live. I left the area for college, and I chose to return after law school. My husband, who also grew up here, and I are raising our young family here. The suggestion that I am a newcomer and somehow not in touch with issues affecting the 7th District is quite a stretch.
With respect to my experience with government, I worked at the Chemung County District Attorney’s Office for many years, and have been a partner at the Ziff Law Firm since 2012 where a great deal of my caseload involves municipal law. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Food Bank and the Arctic League, previously served on the City of Elmira’s Planning Board and Notre Dame High School’s Board of Trustees, and was honored to receive the prestigious Jefferson Award for Public Service in recognition of this service. Although it is true that have not worked as a legislator, my background has prepared me very well for the job.
Finally, I disagree that changing political parties is a negative attribute. To the contrary, I am proud of my decisions as they confirm I am both independent-minded and genuinely able to work across party lines.
At the onset, the suggestion that I have had five different political affiliations is a misrepresentation. My parents, Tom and Pat Bruner, were always involved with local politics while I was growing up, but neither has ever belonged to a political party – something that greatly shaped the way I view government. When I first registered to vote at age 18, I also chose to remain unaffiliated. However, in 1996, during my sophomore year at Georgetown University, Newt Gingrich introduced the “Contract with America”, something that threatened to take away the student loans I needed to remain in school. I joined the Democratic Party for a few years in order to fight that measure. When it became clear financial aide was safe from cuts, I again became an unaffiliated voter.
Many years later, after returning to Chemung County, I became involved in local politics where I managed two judicial campaigns for a Republican candidate. Through those experiences I got to know members of the local Republican party and liked what I saw. I joined and eventually became a member of its Executive Committee. I have always been fiscally conservative and vocal about the need for small, accountable and transparent government, values that fit well with Republican ideology at that time.
But, by the fall of 2015 I felt the Republican party at the national level had changed and no longer represented my many of my views. I left for reasons that have nothing to do with local politics. Although I have rejoined the Democratic Party, my views don’t fit perfectly there either.
Many people experience similar struggles with partisanship. Having essentially a two-party system that asks everyone to pick a team and support it no matter what may not be the best way to go about creating a functional government. All I know for sure is that it doesn’t always work for me.
Regardless of the ideological aspects of this matter, I believe the relationships I have created since I moved back to Chemung County with local leaders and elected officials from a number of political parties will be a tremendous asset on the Chemung County Legislature. They are my friends and colleagues, and I know we will be able to work together if I am elected.
But you don’t have to take it from me. This is what some of those leaders have said:
- Former Chemung County Republican Party Chairman John Meier: “I was the Chairman of the Chemung County Republican Committee when Christina first joined, and I have observed her style of leadership since then. I am confident Christina brings the right mix of independence, intelligence and commitment to help our community thrive. Good things are happening in Chemung County, and people like Christina are exactly what we need to keep this momentum going.”
- New York State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long: “We are very interested in seeing how Christina’s philosophy about government translates into action once she is elected. The Conservative Party recognizes that the only way we are going to get our state and nation back on track is by electing qualified, strong leaders who are willing to stand up against corruption and the status quo. Christina has shown us she has the potential to help lead Chemung County in the right direction, and we are extremely proud to support her efforts.”
- Chemung County Conservative Party Chairman Louis DeCicco: “Christina has a very unique way of approaching political matters. One of the reasons Christina has such a successful law practice is that she is able to look at problems from all sides and find solutions that work. She is not afraid to take hard stands, even if they are unpopular. These are traits that will make her one heck of a legislator.”
- Town of Elmira Conservative Party Chairman Joseph Coletta: “Christina is not afraid to speak out in order to hold governmental officials accountable while still attempting to foster genuine cooperation – qualities we desperately need in order to help our community begin to thrive. Christina will be a tremendous enhancement to the Chemung County Legislature as well as to the Town of Elmira.”
We only have 12 more days to go before the election. Neil Milliken is clearly qualified to do the job, and so am I. Let’s move the discussion away from ourselves and back to what people care about – moving Chemung County forward in a positive direction.
Thanks for reading,