POTSDAM — As she looks to gain support across the sprawling 21st Congressional District, local business strategist and former St. Lawrence County Legislator Tedra L. Cobb demonstrated a personal connection to many of the issues she spoke on at Wednesday night’s town hall.
Ms. Cobb, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Elise Stefanik in the 21st District, made it abundantly clear why she was running early on in the forum.
“The core of why I am running is health care,” she stated. “This does get to economic development, it does get to the jobs that we have in the north country that are related to health care.”
Ms. Cobb said the most recent attempts to overhaul the nation’s health care system hit close to home and sparked a desire to act. According to Ms. Cobb, her daughter had a complex back issue that took months to resolve and resulted in emergency surgery.
“When that health care vote happened, when she voted, Elise Stefanik voted for that health care vote, I, like many other people looked at my family and said ‘wow, my kid has a pre-existing condition. Now what?’” Ms. Cobb said.
“That health care bill was a catastrophe,” she said. “It would close hospitals, it would close nursing homes, it would lay off the people who work in health care. So when we think about that health care bill, first and foremost we can talk about economics but we can also talk about 83,000 people who would have lost their health insurance in this district.”
Ms. Cobb pointed out that health care is an economic driver in the north country and that every vote has an impact on the lives of her potential constituents, and she believes understanding the impact of those votes is important.
Creating a cohesion in the north country was another major talking point for Ms. Cobb Wednesday night. While she recognized there is significant diversity in the area, that does not mean similar problems do not plague the district as a whole.
In order to more closely examine district-wide issues, Ms. Cobb believes working in coalitions would be a step in the right direction.
“Massena has its struggles and Gouverneur has its struggles and Ogdensburg has its struggles and we often divide ourselves as opposed to really leveraging ourselves together,” she said. “The first thing, for me, is to think of the district as a whole and to really build coalitions.
“We have farming here, but there is also farming in Washington county and those farmers struggle with the same kinds of issues,” she added.
Ms. Cobb said areas like health care and education are major pieces to a vibrant local economy. She also believes a strong small business culture can help boost the north country, and being supported by the federal budget will be key.
While there are many pieces to the economic puzzle, Ms. Cobb circled back to cohesion as the answer for many issues in the 21st Congressional District.
“We have veterans all over the region, they are not all working together. We have health care providers all over the region, they are not all working together,” she said. “I do think that a task group … that is actually looking at the region, advocating for the region, prioritizing and strategizing as a region gets us much farther forward than we are in bits of pieces.”
Ms. Cobb said elected officials have an ability to pull people together and as someone who enjoys building relationships with others, she believes her leadership can help foster growth in the north country.
“To me, this was the time to really fight for our district. And we have disparate parts,” Ms. Cobb said. “There are 12 counties in this district and we are often pitted against each other in the north country.’’
She added, “We see ourselves as one small piece. We are a large piece. I think there is an opportunity to leverage the power that we have as a district together and that is another reason for me and why I decided to run.”