WEST CARTHAGE, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s an old saying in politics, one which goes “All politics is local.”
The saying is generally taken as a warning for politicians and journalists and anyone else who spends too much time thinking about politics. Translated, it means “What people (meaning voters) really care about is the stuff which affects them directly. Ignore this fact at your own peril.”
So it’s worth noting that there is a new political consulting firm in the Carthage area, Eagle Politics Inc.
Political consultants help politicians get elected, and then stay elected. If you hire one in Washington D.C., you’re talking extravagant offices and thousands of dollars in expenses.
Eagle Politics isn’t that fancy.
Staffers and two candidates working with Eagle gathered around a kitchen table Friday morning to talk politics, right down to details like the proper color for yard signs. (Hint: use white.)
“We will door knock for you, we’ll do phone calls, text messaging campaigns, run your social media. Basically anything that happens in a political campaign that you can think of, we will assist you,” said James Uhlinger, the driving force behind Eagle Politics.
Eagle Politics has five candidates, six if you count Uhlinger himself, who’s running for a seat on the Champion town council. The others are Jonathan Schell, running for Champion town supervisor; Sierra Weston, running for town clerk; Angela McGill, running for town justice; Matt Gump, running for District 7 county legislator and Shannon Newberry, running for town council in Alexandria.
All the candidates are Republicans except for Newberry, but Uhlinger says Eagle Politics is not a Republican-only operation.
“They (candidates) might be Republicans, they might be Democrats, conservatives, but at the end of the day we’re not really worried about their policy necessarily, we’re worried about getting them elected and enacting change, their vision, what they see for their area,” he said.
Uhlinger said he’s motivated by a strong belief the economy in West Carthage could be better.
He blames the town board and the West Carthage village board for a Tractor Supply store locating just over the county line in Lewis County.
“Tractor Supply was supposed to be in Champion. But there was no communication between the Champion board and the West Carthage village board to figure that out,” he said.
“And then they ended up putting Tractor Supply literally right after the Lewis County sign, so it’s in Lewis County in the Town of Denmark, like, 10 feet past the sign.”
“We’ve had the same people in office for, some of them for like 30 years. And that’s kind of a problem,” Uhlinger said.
Schell, who is a current member of the Carthage school board and who has run unsuccessfully for Champion supervisor in the past, said he hopes Eagle will help him reach more voters.
“So my hope is, collaborating with Eagle Politics, is exposure to a group of voters who don’t know me and potentially having them mentor me to work harder to campaign in the village to get those village votes,” he said.
While issues local and specific to Champion shape Eagle Politics for now, Uhlinger acknowledged the events of the last several months have also affected him.
He called the attack on the Capitol January 6 “sad,” but added “It could have been avoided. All they had to do was investigate the election. That’s all they had to do.
“Nobody would have done anything as long as they would have investigated the election.”
According to Uhlinger, his background includes stints working for the campaigns of congresswomen Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney.
He plans to become a teacher, in addition to working as a political consultant - and he hopes to expand Eagle Politics to other parts of the state and to neighboring states.
“Our goal is to get people elected, and as long as we’re getting people elected and playing the game correctly, then I’d say that’s a successful thing.”