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Anna Kelles and Matthew McIntyre

Ithaca Times sat down with the candidates for the Congressional, Senate and NYS Assembly races to break down their policies and stances.

Polls are currently open for early voting, so we talked to the candidates for local races to help you decide what choices to make. Election Day is Nov. 3, and is the last day to vote. We encourage you to be informed and make your voice count.

This article is part of a three part series written by Glenn Epps, Tanner Harding and Sydney Keller.

District 125 NYS Assembly race

The New York State Assembly Race will take place on Election Day, Nov. 3rd. The candidates are Democrat Anna Kelles and Libertarian and Republican Matthew McIntyre.? ?

Kelles believes people can enter into the world of politics for many different reasons.? ?

“A lot of people enter into politics because there are issues that they become very passionate about and the more they learn, the more involved they are. And that just leads to this natural progression that turns into running and wanting to be someone who is creating policy,” Kelles said.?

Kelles ran for office in 2015, but said her passion for politics began earlier.?

“In my heart and with the work I was doing, my political career started years before [2015] when I was the director of the Green Resource Hub,” Kelles said.?

This organization worked to help local businesses transition from profit-focused to people-, planet- and profit-based, which led Kelles into being interested in environmental change. Kelles became an activist when she worked at the Nutrition Advocacy in 2012. Within this job, she researched legislation laws in every state, learning that politics played a role in which states had access to practicing the field of nutrition and which did not.??

“It was the first time I was really delving into legislation and seeing the political arena in this field,” Kelles said.??

Kelles said her activism helped spark her interests in politics because she sought to make a change.??

“[I'm] trying to influence the direction of policy in a way, that is inclusive and equitable. Those two characteristics are moral compasses for me,” Kelles said.?

Kelles said what represents her ethos are these two things: Policy for the people and the coexistence of planet health and human health.?

“When you have those things, there is equity in human access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” she said. “You can’t have that if you don’t have your basic needs met. And if people don’t have their basic needs met then they cannot participate in the stewardship of the planet, which is necessary to continue to sustain humans. So, they’re intrinsically linked.”?

Kelles highlights several important issues on her website that she wants to address if she becomes elected, and the environment is one of them. Also, if elected, Kelles says will sponsor and fight for the New York Health Act (NYHA), which is a universal, single-payer health care system.
She also believes racial justice is important and wants to change how the New York State police department operates locally by starting with sustainable and substantial policy changes based on communicating with Black and brown communities. She believes we need to reimagine our criminal justice system* so that there is a focus on prevention.

On the law enforcement side, this includes ensuring transparency and establishing clear consequences for situations when actions are influenced by biases. On the public health side, this includes priorities like a focus on poverty and structural racism in our very societal structures (e.g. lack of housing, access to food, job opportunities).?

Kelles wants to focus on economic recovery and has two three-step plans in order to boost the economy once again. Universal childcare is an important issue to Kelles, especially in Cortland and Tompkins County, because families are struggling on how to find and pay for their child’s health. Other issues that Kelles stands for are finding housing for all people, supporting mandatory vaccinations, changing the problem of mass incarceration and fighting for a stop to food insecurity.? ?

Matthew McIntyre’s political career began in 2018 when he formed the Cortland County Libertarian party. He said he did not give politics much thought until he was asked to run for state assembly.?

McIntrye pursued higher education at Le Moyne College where he studied business and management and minored in political philosophy. McIntyre continued his schooling at Syracuse University to get his master’s degree in business administration.?

McIntrye said his education has helped him immerse himself into the political world.? ?

“[Education] gives you a better understanding of the economy…” McIntrye said.?

McIntrye stresses the importance of making the healthcare system more affordable, but also sustainable. He believes in consumer-driven health care reform, meaning McIntrye, if elected, wants to return choices and power to the people while lowering healthcare prices. Additionally, he strongly believes in having sustainable ways to have clean energy.

He hopes to challenge the government if he is elected because McIntrye stands for a “freer New York.”?

“Getting rid of laws is harder than creating them,” McIntrye said. “I want to allow people to use their own best judgement to make decisions for themselves. The government’s not there to tell you how to live your life or protect you from your own decisions. That’s you being a responsible person and a responsible adult.”

He also is in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. He wants to treat the substance use of marijuana more as a health concern as opposed to a criminal matter. McIntrye has a four-step drug policy layout which includes defunding law enforcement programs and initiatives that enforce the arrest and prosecution of non-violent, drug-related crimes.?

“Let’s end the prohibition at the state level. It’s not working. Clearly. Let’s utilize that to benefit everybody,” McIntyre said.??

Other important issues the candidate supports are a more affordable means of childcare, education reform and firearm reform.? ?

Libertarians, according to McIntyre, are financially conservative and socially liberal.?

“The beauty of it is that I’m not held to a party ideal or anything,” McIntyre said. “I’m held to principals.”?

Both Kelles and McIntrye are unique candidates for the Assembly Race because of their backgrounds.?

McIntrye wants the people to know that he is not running as a career politician.?

“I literally am there for the people,” McIntyre said. “I’m a representative. I am the first person in New York history that is a registered third-party person, a registered Libertarian, that has been given the authorization to run…”?

Kelles has been a local her whole life and believes that being raised in New York has helped with her passion for politics in this area.?

“I find it’s helpful for me that my heart is deeply connected to this area because of the memories I have here [...] It’s in my blood. It’s in my veins,” Kelles said. “It creates a very personal connection."

*An earlier version of this article mistakenly said Kelles was in favor of defunding the police. The story has been updated to reflect that correction.

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