After pulling off a momentous election win in August to secure his place as the Democratic nominee for New York’s State Congress, Pat Ryan hopes to once again emerge victorious as he faces off against Republican opponent Colin Schmitt on Nov. 8.
A decorated veteran, small business owner, and former Cadet at the U.S. Military West Point Academy, Ryan hopes to bring values of: duty, honor and country back to politics — ethical pillars he hopes to center his campaign around.
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In an exclusive interview, Ryan spoke with Vision Times to discuss his views on gun control laws, how to create more jobs and why local governments should be held to higher standards of transparency and fiscal responsibility.
“We have a tapestry of different values, but some of the ones that I think are core are: freedom,” Ryan says, delving into why he believes Americans should not have their right to choose taken away from them.
“I talked a lot about abortion rights and reproductive rights being part of a set of freedoms; of safety, justice, and democracy,” he says, hoping to remind people that society has a lot more common ground than what we may think.
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“You can think about abortion rights as being a historically controversial topic and divisive issue, or it can help bring people together,” he said. “The vast preponderance of Americans agree it [abortion] should be a person’s individual decision with their doctor — not the government’s decision.”
On creating more jobs
When asked about his plans to stimulate the economy and how he plans to bring more jobs to his district, Ryan says he hopes to optimize chip production in the region to fill hundreds of positions.
“I’m a big ‘actions speak louder than words’ person, so this is something I have tangentially done in my previous role as Ulster County Executive,” he said, describing how a former IBM manufacturing site in Kingston, New York was revitalized to create more jobs in tech.
“Just [earlier] this week we had an announcement to bring 500 green jobs in a battery technology company to an area that hasn’t had growth in quite a long time,” he said, adding that he hopes to work alongside tech companies such as IBM to revamp chip production in the area in a sizable way.
“We recently saw [President Biden] announce a $20 billion commitment from IBM to the Hudson Valley,” Ryan said, describing how he hopes the cash influx will “encompass not just Poughkeepsie, but the whole region.”
Ryan hopes that by revamping the sector, his constituents can be part of “the leading edge of the economy,” as opposed to being on the back end and struggling to find good-paying jobs.
On gun control
When asked about his views on gun control, Ryan believes a federal background check should be mandated.
“A common sense gun law is universal background checks,” he said, describing how he believes a more thorough screening process should be in place on a federal level.
If a person wishing to purchase firearms has a “record of previous violence or mental health issues, a universal background check would [filter them out] before we put a deadly weapon in [their] hands,” he said.
He continued by describing how “a lot of what’s happening is that most of the violence, much of the violent crime in New York, is perpetrated with guns that come from other states with weaker gun laws.”
Investing in housing
With inflation reaching 40-year highs and battering the global economy, Ryan believes in strengthening the middle class and giving average families the financial tools they need to succeed.
“At the end of day, people need to be able to earn a good living, provide for their family and not worry about putting food on the table and paying the utility bills and all the other costs,” he said, adding that, “It’s not just about creating jobs. We have to invest in housing. We need to build more housing to bring down the price.”
“Housing prices across [Hudson Valley] are through the roof,” he said, underscoring how funds need to be properly allocated to ensure transparency and accountability.
While talking about how his county in Ulster, New York received $34 million from the American Rescue Plan funds for COVID-19, Ryan described how several million dollars of those federal funds have been allocated specifically for “building and enabling housing.”
“So one of the projects that we are doing right now, and we just broke ground on involves knocking down an old county jail and building 160 apartments for seniors and working families,” he said, adding that, “All of them must be filled by folks making middle income wages.”
“Dollars need to get down to local governments and city and village leaders who know the area well and can actually put [the money] to work.”