Though he lives nowhere near here, U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Scott Noren, of Ithaca, approached the Tarrytown Patch for an interview after we outlined current Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's 'optimistic plan for a greater New York.' The Senator spoke to the Business Council of Westchester at for an event that was, admittedly, Gillibrand-friendly.
Noren wrote, introducing himself and his candidacy, “I am running for U.S. Senate and would appreciate equal time.”
Noren's background: he is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon practicing in Ithaca, where he is married with three teenagers at home, one multiply-disabled, and an older daughter in the Chicago area.
Born in Illinois and schooled in Chicago, Noren entered the U.S. Army active duty and said he spent six years serving his country. He was a medical whistle blower while on active duty. Following this he did two oral surgery associateships in Duluth, MN and Saratoga Springs. He then purchased an oral surgery practice in Ithaca in 2005, a practice that had been there for over 40 years, providing, he said, "quality health care and advocating for health care policy changes."
Noren described his campaign thus far: “It’s been a very, very busy month. Still working on infrastructure and some fund raising in the campaign. It’s going well though for a grassroots campaign.”
And then he took the time to answer our questions:
What issues facing New York do you feel most strongly about?
SN: HydroFracking is definitely a major concern. I am strongly committed to writing Federal legislation to ban hydrofracking. I think the locomotive money train from the gas industry is too powerful to only address this at the local or even state levels.
Creating green energy jobs by manufacturing the products needed to partly take homes and business off the public utility grids will be an enormous boost economically for this state. Senator Gillibrand has said let’s protect our water supply and only allow fracking if it’s done safely. I disagree and don’t want any fracking here. She also advocated for more nuclear power plants in Western NY and I am absolutely against this proposal.
Federal funding for medical and dental services for all states needs boosting; I do feel that tobacco control for recipients of public assistance is needed, as well as better educational programs from K-12 on smoking, obesity, healthy eating habits and drug abuse need more adequate funding and emphasis.
Job training programs and freeing up small business loans federally will boost NY’s economy. Senator Gillibrand has co-sponsored a few bills but has not written a jobs bill that ever made it out of a committee yet. I plan to float my already written jobs bill and sell it bi-partisanly in an aggressive manner. The campaign finance reform on both the Federal and state levels needs massive reforming; Senator Gillibrand was #1 recipient of Commercial Bank Lobby money in the entire U.S. Senate in 2010, and is #5 of 100 currently. She took Fracking Company PAC money, and her husband shorted the market in the downturn and then advocated for reforms after they already benefited. We need stronger voices in Congress to make these reforms happen Federally and also coerce states to pass state level reforms if they want continued funding for certain programs.
Lastly, we need a passenger rail system, paid for by U.S. military budget cuts connecting Western NY with NYC. I will fight for this passionately!
What do you think you can do for Westchester County?
SN: Westchester County has $80 Million in capital projects on hold. This represents huge potential in providing jobs, infrastructure improvements, tax revenues and economic development. The Board has been sitting on this for some time according to the County Executives’ office there. I would, as a U.S. Senator, try to bring reason and compromise to this County and other municipalities and help in any way to resolve these disputes so as to move these projects along in a bi-partisan way. Federal funding for infrastructure development should come at the expense again, of the bloated military budget.
The tax burden on the middle class, which I believe goes all the way up to $500,000, needs tweaking at the expense of those collecting $250,000 or more in dividend income per year. That dividend income could be taxed a few percentage points higher and the middle class taxed a few percentage points lower, while paying for this by military cuts as well as fraud, waste and abuse savings.
How would you address the issue of our "corridor" that is a bit clogged now with our unfunded and no-mass-transit Tappan Zee rebuild?
SN: #1, I would change the Commuter plan to an even more economical plan for travelers; I would advocate making it very competitive with the cash rate.
#2 I think that avoiding the addition of transit (bus and rail) to the Tappan-Zee bridge re-do is a massively huge error. It will create a situation where the bridge will again be hampered with slowdowns, not adding the bigger picture of creating a conduit for a Suffern-Hudson Metro North connection. It also handicaps the bus system that should be part of a bigger, cleaner transportation system for this region. The Governor and the Federal Highway Administration are short-sighted if they let this happen.
What differentiates you from your opponent?
SN: In short, I am never influenced by PAC money which I will never accept and allow this to influence policy. She has clearly allowed herself to be influenced by PAC and individual donations from Wall Street, Pharma (voted against the safe importation of prescription drugs), Gas and Oil (fracking money too), and health insurance entities. I stand up for what I believe in, and instead of co-sponsoring bills as her sole action, I will write stepping stone legislation to make government smaller, smarter and protect the interests of all classes, not just the rich who benefit from status-quo incumbents. It’s sometimes what you write, not what you don’t write legislatively that makes the difference.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your questions. Obviously, not everything can be covered.
For more information on Dr. Scott Noren: www.norenforsenate.com.