On Oct. 5, New York state representative Aileen Gunther sat down with Vision Times to discuss the upcoming midterm elections in which she is seeking reelection to the State Assembly to represent District 100.
“Democracy to me is something that I cherish,” she said
Gunther entered politics in an unusual way, stepping up and filling a vacancy for District 98 in the State Assembly left by her deceased husband, Jake Gunther in November 2003.
Gunther grew up in Orange County and studied nursing at Orange County Community College. She then furthered her studies in the liberal arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
She remains a registered nurse and was the former Director of Performance Improvement and Risk Management for the Catskill Regional Medical Center. With well over 25 years of healthcare experience in surgery, obstetrics, mental health and emergency departments, Gunther says her main focus is to care for people.
She told Vision Times, “people want healthcare, they want good education, they want to be able to purchase food.”
Securing more mental health services for her community is a top priority for Gunther, particularly for youth.
“I think there should be a nurse in every school, quite frankly, because we have seen an acceleration of children having mental health issues at an earlier age … it’s so important to have that intervention as soon as possible,” she said.
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In her time in office, Gunther has sponsored numerous pieces of legislation, most recently a bill relating to fingerprinting of prospective child day care employees, an effort to bolster safety in communities.
At the same time, she told Vision Times that small businesses in her community need more incentives to start up and stay in the community.
“They should have increased incentives to open a business,” she said adding that “We give these large incentives, for periods of time, and when that period is over, there’s a train ready to be taken to get them out to another place where the incentives can also be offered. So I sometimes think these incentives are great but we also need them to stay in our community to keep those jobs for long periods of time.”
She said that “Ma and Pa” shops are just as important to the community, or even more so, than big corporations.
She acknowledged the tax burden on her constituents, telling Vision Times that the current tax levies are “very, very high.”
Gunther, a Democrat who has served as a member of the New York State Assembly, representing District 100 since 2013 says she is campaigning on her record.
“I think that I have a very good record and I think that when your mom said to you ‘your hard work pays off’ I believe that to be true,” she said, adding that she has not taken a vacation in some time and works daily to meet the needs of her constituents.
Having run many campaigns unopposed this election cycle she will be squaring off against Republican Lisa LaBue.
“I’m going to say one thing, I don’t like to be negative against other people,” she said adding that, “I mean if I am debating or something, I might challenge them, but … throughout my career, I’ve been very careful not to be mean against other people even when that person is saying some negative things, probably untrue things about me.”
“But, I have a record that stands for what I stand for,” she said.
Gunther is on the ballot for this fall’s midterm elections on Nov. 8 when New Yorkers from across the state will choose representatives for the New York State Assembly for all 150 districts.