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Stefanik: Campaign has taught her importance of listening, learning

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Elise Stefanik SJ 02.jpg

Congressional candidate Elise Stefanik speaks during an editorial board meeting at The Post-Star, Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014. (Steve Jacobs - sjacobs@poststar.com)

GLENS FALLS -- Running for Congress has taught her the importance of “really listening” to voters, said Republican congressional candidate Elise Stefanik.

“What I have learned is listening is really important. No candidate is going to be an expert on every issue,” she said Tuesday at a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board. “I certainly am not, necessarily, an expert, in the way Congressman Owens was, on northern border issues.”

Stefanik, who also is the Conservative Party and Independence Party candidate, said climate change is one of the issues she has been listening and learning about during the campaign.

“In terms of climate change, this is an issue where I have spent a lot of time listening to the environmental groups and the Adirondack groups in the district,” she said. “And it’s reflective of making sure that we have a strong advocate for this district.”

At a meeting with The Post-Star editorial board in June, she said about climate change, “I’m concerned about it. I’m more concerned about how we are going to lower our energy prices. ... I’m not a scientist. I read on both sides of the issue.”

At the meeting on Tuesday, she said climate change should be dealt with in conjunction with China and India.

“It’s clear the climate is changing. I think it’s a combination of man-made and natural processes,” she said. “We’re going to have to deal with this as a global issues and not a go-alone approach of the United States.”

Stefanik, a plywood company vice president and former White House policy adviser from Willsboro, is running in the 21st Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, is not seeking re-election.

The Democratic and Working Families Party candidate is Aaron Woolf, a filmmaker from Elizabethtown.

The Green Party candidate is Matt Funiciello, a bakery owner and political activist from Glens Falls.

Stefanik said listening to voters has reinforced her positions that President Obama’s health care reform plan should be repealed and replaced, and that comprehensive tax reform is necessary.

“I think I was two when we last had fundamental tax reform in this country,” said Stefanik, 30. “I think we are in need of it for future generations.”

Stefanik said learning to be a better listener has been an internal process.

She didn’t read self-help books or seek advice from mentors.

“I think it was sort of self-learned over this past year,” she said.

“It’s helped me understand what’s on voters’ minds and what they care about, not in a way that is politically expedient but in a way that I feel I am able to have a positive message of what this district needs.”

Stefanik said, if elected, she will continue to listen, not just through touring the district but also using Facebook and Twitter.

“My generation — we kind of came of age in our professional life with social networking, with the growth of these digital companies and technology companies that are booming,” she said.

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