SYRACUSE Congressperson Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) chuckled anticipating the welcome she would receive at the United Nations, where she has been appointed as an observer for the House of Representatives. Buerkle has been critical of the UN and advocates withholding paying America’s dues to the body pending a restructuring of certain activities. She will walk through the doors of the world organization, however, well prepared for any reaction she might encounter by the experiences logged in her series of monthly town hall meetings. Typically she finds three distinct groups at each location: one ready to kiss her feet, one looking like they want to throw rocks and call nasty names, and a third, declining in numbers at each successive forum, looking at each other as if to ask what could possibly have created this atmosphere.
Republican Buerkle unseated incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei last year by 648 votes, although he outspent her $3.1 million to $758,000. She had hardly had time to settle into her Congressional chair before three potential challengers announced potential challenges two years hence. Last August Maffei announced he would make the move for the 2012 ballot, billing himself a much more moderate choice than current incumbent Buerkle.
Although Maffei held a significant edge in Onondaga County, Buerkle’s tallies in Cayuga, Wayne and Monroe put her over the top. She previously served on the Syracuse Common Council.
Bipartisanship in Congress seems impossible these days. Is there any way to get to it?
“I think we have to. We have to work toward finding the common ground. Start with the majority of Americans and a majority of the people in the Congress love the United States of America, and want to do what’s right. So we start with that. The administration has this Keynesian approach where we spend money. I think there has to be some recognition and realization that that doesn’t work. I think it’s fair to say that doesn’t work. We spend close to a trillion dollars, unemployment did go above 8 percent, it’s hovered at 10 percent at some points. So let’s try something different. We all agree that unemployment and the economy is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s an American issue. So what are we going to do?