By SHARON TURANO
Special to the OBSERVER
Republican Tom Reed, former mayor of Corning, will run against Democratic veteran Matt Zeller for the seat vacated by Eric Massa, the 29th Congressional District that includes portions of Cattaraugus County.
Both point to their private lives as reasons for wanting to run for public office.
Zeller said he got back from serving in the war in Afghanistan, saw the government lent banks billions, saw going-out-of-business signs and learned other entrepreneurs were getting bonuses while Congress seemed OK with it all. He knew he had to take action, he said.
"It's an obligation to pass the country on better than you found it for your kids," he said, adding he wants to be able to look his children in the eye someday and say he did everything he was supposed to do to pass on the country to them in a better state than he found it.
"You act when your country needs you," he said.
It was Reed's two children that made him want to run, he said, adding he saw policies coming out of Washington, D.C., and did not want his children to live in the world being made or have future debt accompanying those policies.
"Big government solutions," he said are not sustainable or acceptable. He therefore said he wants to do what he believes is right: "living within means," which he thinks will lead to fiscal stability.
Zeller wants to see the country develop, make, consume and distribute and store clean energy.
"Every large economy on the planet is going to clean energy," he said, adding there is a global demand for clean products from everything to light bulbs and windows to nuclear power. The global demand for such products, he said, provides an opportunity since some have not yet been invented. Zeller said if those in America can make and supply product to the world, "a tremendous job opportunity" could be created.
Reed said he wants to make sure free trade agreements are enforced and make sure budgets are handled responsibly, leading to a balanced budget over time. He said he has reached out to other "fiscal conservatives," forming a coalition of candidates: "the Freshman 50," who have banded together to try to ensure reaching goals. He said the group is made up of representatives from different parties in favor of a stable economy, and, he said, it is growing.
Unemployment, Zeller said, is too high and people need work to live, prosper and remain here, or, they will go elsewhere resulting in the area's way of life disappearing.
"It's worth fighting for," said Zeller. In order to get people to stay, he said, property taxes and utility bills also need to be reduced, along with infrastructure upgrades that could lead to more energy efficiency.
He said he would like to see business and home owners offered a tax rebate if they agree to upgrade homes and businesses to make them more energy efficient, which will reduce bills and result in local firms being hired. He estimates that for every dollar spent on home and business modifications, $7 more can be earned.
"Weve got to stop outsourcing American jobs," he said, calling for restructuring of taxes. Currently, he said, taxpayer dollars are being used to subsidize money that sends jobs to other countries.
''We want to stop that," he said, adding outsourcing should be replaced with insourcing instead by encouraging the rewarding of companies that bring jobs home. He would propose offering a tax holiday to firms who bring jobs back to the country.
Reed said he would also like to focus on being a "constituent servant." For instance, he said, he has put 72,000 miles on his vehicle since announcing his candidacy in July 2009, trying to visit constituents.
A Western New York native, Zeller lives in Victor. He is an Army officer, who serves in the reserves, worked as an intelligence officer for the Central Intelligence Agency and served his country overseas. He holds two master's degrees from Syracuse University in public administration and international relations. He is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion and is engaged to be married.
Reed, of Corning, said he has 11 older brothers and sisters, who grew up in a family that had nothing. He now owns small businesses.
"I hope that demonstrates work ethic," he said, adding he now has various small businesses and thinks the experience of owning them puts him in a position to understand the private sector. He said he has met payroll, been there at 2 a.m. figuring how to make business work and has "first-hand experience" at running a business.
"Recovery has to come from the private sector," he said about the economy, adding it can not be "public-based."
Reed is an Alfred University graduate, who went to law school at Ohio Northern. He has a law practice, real estate firm and property development and rental business and lives with his wife and two children.