On the morning of Thursday, October 27th, The Legislative Gazette conducted an interview with congressional candidate for District 18, Colin Schmitt, R-New Windsor. Schmitt currently serves as the Assemblyman for New York’s 99th District covering sections of Rockland and Orange County. Schmitt has held office since 2018.
He is also a licensed commercial real estate agent with his wife, Nikki, who is broker of their third-generation family business.
Schmitt is running against Democrat Pat Ryan.
What motivated you to run for Congress?
My wife and I, we sat down and living here in the Hudson Valley we saw one party control from the statehouse to the White House and felt that the Hudson Valley was getting left behind and that we needed checks and balances, that a government had to have a conversation, how to compromise, how to negotiate [what] would be the best government for all people. We felt that our voice wasn’t being heard in Washington and decided to throw our hat in the ring. We’ve been on a full steam effort ever since. To talk about why we need those checks and balances in Washington; for economic reasons, for public safety and for those concerns that are impacting so many residents.
What kind of impact do you believe you can have as a congressman as opposed to your current office of assemblyman?
I think that the unique issues we have in New York state, in this country, is specifically since we have one party control from the State House to the White House. As a member of Congress in the new House Republican majority we will be on the front lines of the federal government for our neighbors here in the Hudson Valley. We will be able to ensure we get our economy back on track, work to support law enforcement and ensure public safety. We will tackle issues regarding border security, which is impacting our communities with the secret migrant flights into Orange County Airport and the fentanyl that’s killing so many young residents of the three counties of this district.
If honored to be elected, I will be given a unique position to directly impact those top issues for all who live here in the Hudson Valley. It’s a distinct honor to hold such a position and have that ability to impact those issues and impact change and we’ll be looking to do just that.
You touched upon a number of issues currently facing New Yorkers. If elected, what would a list of priorities be for you if elected?
First is the economy, getting our economy back on track. We’re facing the highest inflation over 40 years, the highest food prices in over 43 years, the highest interest rates to buy a new home, first home, in decades. We need to turn the economy back around. We’re going to stop the reckless spending, over $10 trillion in just the last few years from the Biden Administration. That is the main fuel of this inflation crisis. We want to restore an all American supply chain which will directly impact the Hudson Valley in a positive way and remove our dependence from China. We’re gonna get energy costs under control and ensure American energy independence. I’m for an all of the above approach. The traditional fuel sources as well as advanced sources, advanced technologies and everything in between.
I think we need to be the best at all of them.
Law enforcement, public safety. So many people are concerned with public safety. crime issues here in New York — with a lack of support for law enforcement [that] is unacceptable. The failed, no bail law that we’re dealing with and so many other issues. We want to hire 200,000 new police officers in this country, many of them for the Hudson Valley who will be well paid and well trained. We want District Attorneys to be accountable. That’s a big issue. That they prosecute crimes and hold criminals accountable for what they do.
The number one cause of death in the Hudson Valley across the country for 18 to 45-year-olds is fentanyl. We have a serious crisis at our southern border that’s being exported to the Hudson Valley. The secret migrant flights coming into Orange County Airport and other airports. As congressmen, we’re gonna stop those flights and we’re gonna secure a border using common sense approach. Physical infrastructure where it makes sense to, advanced technology where it makes sense. Fully staffing up Border Patrol which is, in the almost 4000 range, understaffed during the last few years with the Biden Administration. That will end human smuggling [and] sex trafficking or get the cartels and stop the flow of illicit fentanyl coming into our communities.
Can you elaborate on what you meant when you said advanced technologies?
Everything, solar, wind, traditional sources of fuel. I believe we should be looking at all avenues. We should be the leader in all avenues. That’s how we’ll have a robust, well-rounded, independent energy status for our country.
What is your current view on the cost of living in New York state?
It’s unsustainable. The cost of living in New York right now is unsustainable. We have record grocery prices, record energy costs, supply chain issues, people still can’t buy baby formula. We have people that are just simply being priced out and they’re now making difficult decisions. Particularly seniors in our community, families as well, but seniors have already reached [that point].
They’re deciding, do we eat or do we fill up our tank to stay warm?
How do we bridge that gap? This inflation is the leading cause driving costs up for everything. Even for used cars and for transportation. Everything is just astronomical at historic levels. So we really need to get that inflation down.
If elected, what approaches would you take to lower inflation?
We are focusing on ensuring that we stop the reckless spending. There is $10 trillion of new reckless spending that has occurred under the last few years under the Biden administration. That is the main fueler of this sky high inflation crisis. So our commitment to America and the new Republican majority plan is to stop the out of control trillions of dollars of reckless spending and new spending that we’ve had for the last few years, which is the root cause of the inflationary crisis.
We’re also going to restore American energy independence. The lack of energy, or the lack of energy independence here in the United States, is coupled in with one of the main fuelers of the inflation crisis. The cost of gas, cost of energy, [is] driving the inflationary crisis, driving the CPI numbers through the roof. Then we get to the other piece, which is a supply chain issue, manufacturing issue. We’re going to restore the American supply chain, remove it from China, create an environment where those industries can thrive, and ensure that we are able to secure our own supply chain and manufacturing.
These are basically the three items at the onset that we can do in the new House Republican Majority to ensure that we start getting this economy back on track.
Switching gears here, what is your current position on abortion rights?
I’m pro life. That’s my voting record in the state Assembly.
What am I not? An extremist like my opponent Pat Ryan, who supports taxpayer funded partial birth abortion up till the moment of birth. Non-doctors performing abortions. Support or removing parental notification for minors in distress and supporting removing penal law protections for pregnant expectant mothers who God forbid, may be the subject of a violent attack.
I come from a common sense, compassionate approach.
What is your current position on gun control in New York state?
I’m a supporter of the Second Amendment. That is my voting record in the state Assembly as well.
We need to ensure that we protect the Second Amendment, at the same time giving law enforcement the resources and tools it needs to prevent and respond to crisis situations. We need to ensure that we have the proper mental health funding for our communities, across our region and across our state to tackle mental health crises that we have seen develop. Particularly [this] has been exacerbated in the last few years under the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, to ensure that we give schools, educational facilities and any other area that might need [it],the funding and resources necessary to be secure and to harden themselves.
I think that it is so important that we fully fund law enforcement. We give them the tools necessary to prevent and to respond to tragedies. When it comes to gun violence in our communities, we particularly have to focus on the No Bail law that is greatly impacting our public safety. We have the District Attorney in Albany County, who’s come out and said that gun violence in his city and his county is not [something he’s] able to control based on laws that are in place in New York to the failed no bail law and the illegal guns that he’s dealing with.
You’ve weighed in on the MTA and congestive pricing debate in the past, where do you currently stand on the issue?
It’s a disaster. I’m opposed to congestion pricing. I voted against it. I co-sponsor a bill right now with my colleague in the Hudson Valley, Mike Waller, to repeal the congestion pricing plan.
It is a commuter tax, particularly on residents of the Hudson Valley.
So many people in my district commute to New York City for work or for medical care or for other services. Having a up to $23 trip, extra tax, is what it really is, added on is not sustainable. It’s just simply not sustainable. We’ve seen bipartisan opposition across the region and by region I mean multiple states. I co-sponsored legislation in the Assembly to get rid of it. I stand with Governor Candidate Lee Zeldin, who’s running to get rid of it. When elected to Congress I will join with my former colleague and future colleague now, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who has done bipartisan efforts to push back on congestion pricing – both legislatively and administratively.
Before we conclude, what is your final message for the voters of New York?
I am certainly asking everyone for their vote on November 8. We’re encouraging to get out early because early voting starts this Saturday and runs next Sunday. Vote on election day, but why wait? Go vote in person early.
I’m proud I have a proven bipartisan track record that is successful in the Hudson Valley and in the State Assembly. I’d like to put that to work for all of us in the Hudson Valley down in Washington, DC. Our country is at a crossroads. We have so many issues that are impacting our families and our communities.
A government that works best is a government that has to compromise, there has to be negotiation, where there’s checks and balances.
The best chance to have checks and balances, to get these issues under control is to flip this seat and have a House Republican majority. That’s why I’m asking people to give me the opportunity, for the next two years, to put my bipartisan track record to work to get our federal government back on track working for all of us.
NOTE: The Legislative Gazette has reached out to Schmitt’s opponent Pat Ryan, D-Gardiner, to offer a similar forum to express his platform.