Our conversation with congressional candidate Matt Castelli

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 2:57 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 3, 2022 at 5:02 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - In the second of our reports on the candidates for New York’s 21st Congressional District, we speak with Democrat Matt Castelli.

“When we see politicians who are willing to put party and their own self-interests, their careers ahead of country and community, that is really what’s wrong with Washington right now,” he said.

Castelli, a former CIA officer and director for counterterrorism, says he’s a moderate. The democratic candidate hopes a return from the extremes of the right and left will resonate with voters - enough so that he can unseat Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik.

“We need a moderate, someone who’s actually going to bring us together to solve problems, not create them. We need someone who is going to represent all of us,” said Castelli.

A recent Washington Post poll lists the economy and inflation as two of the top concerns for voters headed into the midterm elections. Additionally, hot-button topics in the 21st Congressional District have included individual freedoms like gun and reproductive rights.

“I’m going to fight to defend our freedoms like a woman’s right to control her own body and her healthcare decisions. And the Second Amendment - I’m going to fight to make sure that we have safety and security for everyone. Yes, that’s funding our law enforcement and securing our border, but it’s also about defending our democracy. Making sure our military and our veterans have the resources they need and making sure we have health security. That comes from access to health care, or job security, and economic security,” said Castelli.

While Castelli says he will be voting for Governor Hochul this year, that doesn’t necessarily mean he agrees with all of her policies.

“As a gun owner myself, and someone who strongly supports the Second Amendment, I swore an oath to the Constitution to protect and defend our Second Amendment rights. I think a lot of the recent gun legislation was passed too hastily and didn’t have the input of law-abiding gun owners like myself,” said Castelli.

When our questions for Castelli ended, he had one for the voters in New York’s 21st: “Do they feel as if they’ve been well served over the last eight years? Do they feel that they are better off now today than eight years ago before Elise Stefanik came into office?”

Election Day is next Tuesday.

See our report on Stefanik here.