Democrat Dana Balter is looking to do what she couldn’t in 2018 — unseat incumbent Republican Congressman John Katko. According to the most recent Siena College poll, the race for New York’s 24th Congressional District is a relatively dead heat

Who is Dana Balter?

Balter’s background is in education. At 12 years old, she got her first paycheck for teaching Sunday school. She worked at a disability services nonprofit and has taught at Syracuse University.

“Well, I think I am a pretty passionate person about doing what’s best for the community and working hard to make our community better,” said Balter. “I am, as you said, a teacher; a lifelong educator."

That passion is what has led Balter to stay on the campaign trail for three years. She calls it the longest interview of her life, but she says this election is too important to sit out. 

“They will be sending to Congress someone who will start out every day asking just one question: 'Will this make life better for Central and Western New Yorkers?' And the reason that I’m the person that will ask that question and who understands the answer to that questions is because my story is the voters’ story,” said Balter.

On the Issues

Years ago, she got a concussion and had trouble finding healthcare because of her preexisting condition. So Balter says she understands the need for universal healthcare — especially during a pandemic. She says the majority of people agree with her positions. 

“All of the things I’m fighting for are what the people here need and want from their government. I support universal healthcare, so do 63% of Americans. I support a $15 minimum wage, so do 68% of Americans,” said Balter. “I support universal background checks for gun purchases, so do 97% of Americans.”

Navigating the Pandemic

The top priority during this economic and health crisis should be to get the spread of the virus under control, Balter said, which is something she said the president refuses to do.

“In a time of economic crisis is not the time to be worried about the deficit and debt,” Balter said. “History shows us this over and over again. In crisis is the time we need government to be making investments. We need government to be providing relief to small businesses, to families, to nonprofits, to farms, to help everybody make it through.”

Once we are on the other side of the crisis, Balter said then it’s time to focus on the national debt and deficit. She said the country needs a new economic policy that will cut taxes for families making less than $400,000 a year and ensure wealthy people and giant corporations pay their fair share.  

“The path that we are on is not sustainable,” said Balter. “That’s why the 2017 tax bill that John Katko championed is so irresponsible. It added $2 trillion to our national debt and put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. That is not the kind of policy that we need in this country. What we’ve got to do is make sure that tax policy prioritizes the wellbeing of working families and seniors and people with disabilities and  veterans and students — all the people who need just a little bit of extra help to make life a little bit easier.”

Off the Trail

Away from the campaign trail, Balter is a crafter. She has a sewing room in her home.

Balter loves her two rescue pups: Luke and Gracie; and you might find her hiking at Pratts Falls. 

“It is a way to not only clear my head and have some quiet, but also reconnect to the things that are really important, to kind of be still, center myself, and be able to think without all of the noise,” said Balter.