Does my voice matter?
Do people with more money have the right to bigger voices and more influence?
Is there anyone at all who will fight for the little people?
These are questions that I ask myself every day for the past two years. But, in the midst of these challenging times, when my frustrations with an unresponsive political system were the greatest, I observed people who continued to stand up for the right thing. They were not deterred by the the negativity and attack nature of our current political climate. They are beacons shining in the night. One of those hope-givers is someone who has become a good friend to me. His energy and his enthusiasm and his belief that this country can change for the better has inspired me to fight alongside him.
His name is Nate McMurray. He is running for election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 27th district of New York State. Nate cares about the people of the large district, which encompasses eight counties. It is a diverse district that includes countryside, villages, small towns, and small cities. It is a district full of people who also have wondered if their voices matter. For six years, they have had a representative who cared more about his donors than about his constituents. Chris Collins never held town hall meetings, and there are parts of the district that has has never once visited.
Nate understands people who struggle because he was one of them. When Nate was just four years old, his father passed away, leaving his mother to raise six sons and one daughter on her own. It was very challenging for them economically. "When I was in high school, I used to have to help my mom clean doctors’ offices. There was a time that we cleaned doctors’ offices all night. That’s the only way that we could get by. My mom worked all day and, after school, my brothers and I would go clean with her all night long. So there was one time when we were going out there, and she said to a doctor 'hi.' The doctor said to her, as he was on his way out of the office, 'Don’t you have some urinals to clean?' So I felt powerless to help her. It made me think that, for the rest of my life, I’m going to stand up for what’s right. Life is too short and, if someone needs my help, I’m going to stand up and do the right thing."
Nate has traveled throughout the entire district. He's marched in parades and he's visited county fairs. He's listened to people at house parties and at barn storm rallies, and he has heard the stories of people who struggled, people who needed his help.
Nate has a connection with his Western New York community, as well as with people who struggle. "We have such an incredible abundance of beauty here. It is the most beautiful place in the entire world. Eighty percent of North America’s fresh water is flowing by here (Grand Island), right now. Twenty percent of the world’s fresh water."
When Nate first announced that he was running for Congress, there were who dismissed Nate as a Don Quixote type who was tilting at windmills. They said that Nate didn't have a chance. Of course, that was before Mr. Collins was indicted on charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and with lying to the FBI.
At the start, only one member of Congress expressed confidence in Nate. That was the late Rep. Louise Slaughter, who represented the Rochester area. Nate said, "I was told that this was a throw-away race. One person told me to fight. It was Louise Slaughter. She was the only member of Congress who agreed to meet with me. She looked me in the eye. She was power. She was fierce. She said, Nate, if you get into this thing, I'm going to ask you one thing: Fight like hell!"
Give 'em hell, Nate. We are closer to the finish line in this race in this race, and, I believe, closer to victory.