Meet Matt Funiciello, a local baker seeking to land the Green Party’s nomination in the race to replace outgoing Congressman Bill Owens, a Democrat who announced in January that he is retiring from his four-year stint as the federal representative of New York’s 21st District.
Funiciello said he’s “watched in horror,” as aspiring candidates from the two major political parties have been coming from outside of the area in increasing numbers in an attempt to represent its 400,000-plus voters, a trend that he feels isn’t isolated and doesn’t reflect how Congress is supposed to work.
“Congress is supposed to be a cacophony of voices representing the uniqueness across the United States,” he told the Valley News in a phone interview. “When they meet, they’re supposed to represent that. We’ve seen a corporate takeover and that’s really frightening to me.”
Funciello said Democrats and Republicans have both set up a practice of buying congressional seats, walking into county committee endorsement meetings with hundreds of thousands of dollars pledged from special interests:
“Or they promise that they can self-fund a multi-million dollar ‘race,’” he said.
The answer, he said, is to give the public an alternative.
Funiciello, speaking eruditely like someone who has grown accustomed to hatching their ideas in complete sentences, said he thinks it’s important to have a multi-party system and that he’s not necessarily for the Green Party and everything it stands for, but rather against the Republican and Democratic parties who he says don’t have the best interests of the working class in mind.
“I ask all my friends who are Democrats to name one pro-worker piece of legislation that has come out of Democratic control of congress in their lifetime and they’re hard-pressed to give me even one example,” he said.
“I can’t in good conscience run as a member of a party that doesn’t work for those of us who work for a living. We need a voice.”