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It’s not your typical image of a denizen prowling the hallways under the rotunda on Northeast and First Street. But that’s just what Golden, who claims himself a progressive, grassroots candidate, wants to portray.
“I think there’s a lot of people that are very leery with just another politician stepping to the plate,” Golden said. “I think I can relate more to a lot of people across the district because I’ve been on the ground. Because I haven’t been a politician. Of all the things that I think I bring to the table, I would probably this day and age see as strengths, not weaknesses.”
While Golden’s record as a politician may be essentially nonexistent, his record doing business in the area is well known. Now in his eleventh year in business running the Commons institution Finger Lakes Trail and Running Company as well as events company Red Newt Racing Golden said he believes his experience gives him a unique and important perspective of being “on the ground” in the 23rd district.
“I’ve been open, since my first business, eleven years now and a lot of that’s been really month to month living,” Golden said. “I’ve been trying to figure out power, keeping the lights on. I think that allows me an ability to relate to which line item may make a big difference for me and what federal and state revenues streams have really made a difference to getting me open and I think keeping me open.”
In his role as a business owner, Golden says he is more inclined to approach the federal budget as well as aspects of other issues like healthcare and how they affect the average small business owner in New York.
Campaign finance is a major issue for Golden, who claims he is not going to accept money from corporations or super PACs in the course of the campaign even despite facing likely heavily funded opponents in the primary and possibly general election. He’s a supporter of a carbon tax on the federal level and believe congress could pass such a measure with bipartisan support.
Despite his full support of environmental issues, Golden says he empathizes with those who may not prioritize the environment and have other priorities like making ends meet.
“I really can’t blame or criticize too harshly some of the people that may have been for it,” Golden recalls from the battle over fracking. “I think just staying in my relative privileged and liberal or progressive bubble wouldn’t necessarily be conducive necessarily where a lot of people are at. A lot of people aren’t necessarily as privileged or don’t necessarily have this much opportunity and don’t necessarily have as strong environmental persuasions and I kind of get that. It’s a topic that’s offered a lot of fairly lucrative opportunities that they just didn’t have a pathway to achieve otherwise.”Though Golden did not grow up using guns for hunting or protection he does recognize the constitutional right to bear arms and considers himself an advocate for sensible gun ownership.
Golden touts his experiences as a business owner and the knowledge it’s given him over as to the difficulties associated with starting and maintaining small businesses in New York.
“I think here being a founder and a manager of four small businesses in New York I think that I can relate to the economy on the ground and these are truly small businesses,” Golden said.
To him, it’s the federal and state grant money that got him off the ground and sustained him for the first critical months in the first place. It’s those line items like community block grants and loan development funding that are most important to Golden in relation to the federal and state budgets.
“Without that money line item, federal to state, businesses don’t get off the ground and we don’t grow in that sense,” Golden said. “So, I don’t think it needs to be all necessarily large scale growth to really make a difference as in most of our employers are like me, small business. So, I think I have been privy to figuring out and making a go at where that balance lies.”Similar to the topic of the economy, Golden recognizes not only the individual drawbacks to the current healthcare system and proposed repeal and replacement plan (the AHCA was still being addressed in the senate at the time these profiles were written), but also the tough position it puts small businesses in.
“I’ve seen those premiums and when I try to cover health insurance for employees, it’s tough,” Golden said. “That makes a much bigger difference to me than any tax reforms or other regulations that are being put on businesses. When I look at projections of what a single payer system might filter down through on the ground. He says he’s met with farmers as far out as Yates county who are advocating reforms or replacement to the H2A system as it exists a measure that Golden isn’t opposed to.
“For them [the farmers], they’ve been working actively on coming up with good solutions and they have presented them to somewhat deaf ears on our representatives and that H2A is one that they feel isn’t nearly as efficient as it should be and maybe it should be scrapped altogether, but that immigration reform is for sure absolutely needed,” Golden said.
“We as community members and legislators need to do our part to address the antecedents and not just make it a law enforcement issue because that is us putting Band Aids on a much larger wound,” Golden said.