Congressional races taking shape

Races are shaping up in two Montgomery County congressional districts.

Major-party candidates submitted petitions to run for seats in the 19th and 20th congressional districts. The petition deadline was April 10.

In the 19th district, Sean Eldridge of Shokan submitted signatures for the Democratic and Working Families parties, while incumbent Chris Gibson of Kinderhook submitted signatures for the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties.

In the 20th district, incumbent Paul Tonko of Amsterdam submitted signatures for the Democratic, Working Families and Independence parties, while Jim Fischer of Ballston submitted signatures for the Republican and Conservative parties.

The 19th and 20th districts include parts of Montgomery County.

Eldridge, a first-time congressional candidate originally from Ohio, serves as the president of Kingston-based Hudson River Ventures, an investment company that has created local jobs and grown small businesses throughout the region. He’s worked with Planned Parenthood to protect women’s access to health care in the Hudson Valley and led a successful campaign in 2011 for marriage equality in New York state.

Eldridge said he’s frustrated with the “lack of progress in Congress,” and that’s why he’s running for the position.

“We need new leadership,” he said. “We need a jobs bill to get people back to work. I think we can do that … I’ve had a great response from District 19 voters; I’m excited to be endorsed by the Democratic party and have the support of [U.S.] Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. I plan on working very hard over the next few months.”

Gibson, who’s been working in Congress since 2010 and has represented the 19th and 20th congressional districts due to redistricting in 2012, is hoping to be re-elected for the third time. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Siena College, and a master’s in public administration and a Ph.D. in government from Cornell University.

Gibson said he wants to continue serving the 19th district because he thinks he’s a “leader who brings everyone together.”

“I’m a constituent-driven leader,” he said. “I listen to all of my constituents, their advice and ideas. I protect their freedoms and I’ve got a lot of goals to help them. I want to create more jobs, have a tax reform, have a health care reform and have a lot of smart investments that help our local buildings and bridges. … This is an important election and I think it’s important to have a leader that represents the district he grew up in.”

Tonko, who’s been working in Congress since 2009, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University. In Congress, he serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee. In the past, he’s also served on the Science, Space and Technology Committee, the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee, the Natural Resources Committee, Education and Workforce Committee and the Budget Committee.

“I’m running for re-election because, while we are making progress in our recovery, we must do better,” Tonko said in an email. “For now, I’m focused on the work that I was sent to Washington to do – reach across the aisle to help create jobs, promote economic mobility for the middle-class and those struggling to enter it, and enact a sound budget that cuts where we can and invests where we must.”

Fischer graduated from the State University of New York at Cortland with a degree in economics and a minor in American history.

He’s been in the wireless communications industry since 1985, when he began working for Motorola. Fischer started the Bill Swanker Memorial Golf Tournament to benefit the New York State Trooper Foundation.

Independent candidates must file their petitions by Aug. 5.

The congressional general election will be Nov. 4.

Fischer could not be reached for comment for this story.