By Jeremy J. Zellner
When Hillary Clinton stood before 300 people at the Buffalo Hyatt Hotel last November, it was not just political theater, or a politician rewarding patrons with her presence. It was a celebration of a proven leader with a long-standing affinity for our community, someone who has consistently been on our side when it comes to the challenges facing Western New York.
That’s why the Erie County Democratic Party has been with Clinton since she announced her White House bid. And it is why we were eager to welcome her to Buffalo for the most successful presidential fundraiser in our party’s history.
Politics, among other things, is the art of transforming campaign positions into governing policy. Of all those running for president, Clinton is the candidate with the skills and experience to make that transition.
Clinton’s leadership has made the difference on issues important to our community. As senator, she helped secure millions for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and worked closely with Rep. Brian Higgins to secure a relicensing agreement from the New York Power Authority that provided funding to revitalize our waterfront.
From the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the Niagara Wine Trail to Artspace Buffalo Lofts and Canalside, Clinton brought jobs, opportunity and a rebirth of optimism to our region.
As secretary of state, Clinton was part of the team that successfully targeted Osama bin Laden. She fought to boost trade exports to China by more than 50 percent, and worked to impose tough economic sanctions that finally brought Iran to the nuclear bargaining table. And when she was America’s first lady, health care, women’s rights and the rights of all humanity were at the heart of her mission and message to the world.
Eight years after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we are a nation well into recovery but still on the mend. Fifteen years after 9/11 we are grappling with a shifting world order in which democratic nations combat violent zealots within their borders. At home we still struggle to ensure justice and equality for those who have not always enjoyed the blessings of liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.
And when we contrast Clinton’s measured manner and achievements with the Republican candidates’ divisiveness and extremism, it’s clear who possesses the temperament and worldview best suited to the presidency.
The next president will face challenges we know, and some we can’t predict. The candidate who is elected this November must be ready to meet those challenges on day one. As we approach New York’s spring primary and look toward the autumn election, I believe Clinton is the right choice for Western New York and America.
Jeremy C. Zellner is chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.