Republican Chriss Lee was reticent during last year's campaign season, often declining interviews and frequently unwilling to speak one-on-one with the press. Most news that came our way came via cut-and-paste press releases put together by his campaign team. Yet that strategy proved the way to win the seat in the 26th Congressional District, which, if we're to be honest with ourselves, was the real goal—transparency and cooperation mean nothing without that win. With such a strategy, Lee beat out Democratic challenger Alice Kryzan, who was much his opposite: ferocious in her willingness to get out and talk with anybody who would listen.
Well, Lee is now one day into his new job and already proclaiming that his "doors are always open." In fact, he even held an open house immediately following the ceremony in Washington! Quite a turnaround from the campaign trail. Here's more from the press release that went out late yesterday afternoon:
“It is an honor and a privilege to represent the people of Western New York,” Congressman Lee said. “I am prepared to fight every day for new jobs, lower taxes, and real accountability for the hard-earned money Western New Yorkers send to Washington. For starters, we need a sensible economic recovery package that makes the right investments to spur future growth and provides much-needed tax relief for working families and small business owners.
“We also need Washington to stop treating fiscal responsibility like an afterthought. I will work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to control federal spending and hold Washington accountable for every decision it makes.”
Lee continued on in the same vein.
“We face significant challenges right now, and I am ready to work with anyone who is committed to getting our economy moving again, regardless of what party he or she belongs to,” Congressman Lee added. “Changing the way we do business in Washington will require a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions.”
What are your thoughts on Lee's opening day statements? Does it sound like he will in fact get things done for the people of this district? Or does it sound like the same old political blather—i.e., "a sustained bipartisan commitment to forward-looking solutions"?
As we said, Lee made it a point to avoid debates, avoid public appearances that were not choreographed and avoid interviews by the media. That sort of behavior, in the midst of a very public campaign, whether it was strategy or personality, does not speak to a character of unquestioning and altruistic cooperation. Yet here he is, making promises of openness and availability. In fact, Lee will host a pair of open houses at his two local district offices in Williamsville and Greece on January 24. Lee will be in Williamsville first from 9:00am to noon, and in Greece from 1:00pm to 4:00pm.
“Our doors are always open to our constituents; listening to their concerns and addressing their needs is our highest priority,” Congressman Lee said.
He will not make any appearance in Genesee County. We sent an e-mail to his office to find out what representation Genesee County will have since both of his district offices are out of the area, in the Buffalo and Rochester suburbs. We will get up any response as soon as it comes our way.
Now, I may have come out of the gate with a critical edge to my blade, but I don't at all mean to condemn Lee before he even gets a chance to prove himself. That being said, we plan to keep a close eye on our newest representative in Congress to see if he lives up to his promises—or if he lives up to his campaign strategy.