Collins promises long-term vision
BATAVIA — Family, financial responsbility and the future were foremost on the mind of newly-elected Congressman Chris Collins this weekend.
During his second ceremonial swearing-in for the day Saturday, he promised to do what he could to taper federal spending habits, represent all constituents and especially farmers and small business and have a long-term vision.
Collins, who won a close race against incumbent Kathy Hochul this past November, couldn’t take his oath of office without wife Mary and children Caitlin and Cameron by his side.
“It really brings it home; it’s about family,” he said to a packed courtroom at the old county courthouse. “When I look at my kids who are in college and my granddaughter ... there’s $50,000 of debt at her feet and she’s not even walking yet. We must understand that the country spends too much. We owe it to our kids, our grandchildren and future generations to get our financial house in order. And to me that means reducing spending significantly so that we can have a future for our kids.”
As a representative of the 27th Congressional District, Collins has already placed nine votes during his first few days in office, he said. He is eager to get moving at “a very critical moment” in a country that has hit its debt ceiling and is braced for important votes including a Farm Bill, the failure of which would mean farm programs would lose billions of dollars in financing.
He is confident that he brings with him experience as a county executive of Erie County, which seemed to be in the same shape five years ago as what the United States is today: out of money, unable to pay bills and needing to change course, he said.
He made some tough decisions to help turn that county around financially. That makes him hopeful to make an impact at the federal level while working locally, he said.
His congressional district is a territory of 105 towns and eight counties. He’s already got a roundtable set this week with area farmers to discuss their concerns and needs, he said. It’s part of his pledge to run an “accountable and accessible” office.
“The message here is that I’m going to serve the constituents throughout the 27th District,” he said. “I am going to be out and about as much as I can ... I’m going to have people I can count on to make sure we are representing their interests. They’re going to see a lot of me here.”
Dick Siebert admitted to doing a little “crowing” during the ceremonies, which included his oath as county election commissioner and the swearing in of state Assemblyman Steve Hawley, Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, county Sheriff Gary Maha, Undersheriff William Sheron and treasurer Scott German.
Siebert gave a nod to Collins, who helped bring the tally of Republican representation up a notch in Genesee County.
“From Congress to coroner, of the 22 elected officials, 21 are Republican,” Siebert said. “It’s a tribute to the work they’ve done in the county.”
The day was “a most significant moment in Genesee County history,” county Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock said. She nudged Collins — who she believes is “a practical, no-nonsense Congressman” — and the others to return to their jobs with “vigor.” They need to fight for relief of state mandates and help with the fiscal crisis and impending farm and transportation bills.
“They all impact us,” she said.