It's crunch time for candidates running for the 23rd Congressional District.
And with just over a week before the June 26 primary, congressional hopefuls are giving their last-second pitch throughout the Southern Tier.
The candidates areincumbent Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning; Democrats Leslie Danks Burke; Melissa Dobson; and Nate Shinagawa.
Reed, a first-term congressman, will square off in November against the Democratic winner for the new 23rd Congressional District, which will include Chautauqua County for the first time in a decade.
Overall, the sprawling district includes 11 counties, many of which are located along the Pennsylvania border.
So what makes each candidate stand out?
In response to The Post-Journal, each candidate was asked what the district's voters should know heading into the state's primary election.
LESLIE DANKS BURKE
"As I travel around this district over and over again and the No. 1 thing I hear from everyone ... is jobs. Are we going to bring back jobs for those as we come out of the recession?
And I believe there are real opportunities here to get people back to work. And I also believe there are opportunities here at the federal level to create that kind of work.
"... We have a president and a governor who want to put money into infrastructure development. We have to take advantage of that in the Southern Tier, and I think we have a real opportunity there.
"It's going to be my job to make sure that I am present in every one of those (11 cities in the district). That is the job of anyone who seeks to represent this district to make sure that you are reaching out to all of the separate communities.
"I really think we need to be proactive to bring jobs back to the U.S. Part of that is making education in the job market important, and working with existing companies to help with these vacant properties. We need to bring back the 2.5 million jobs back to the U.S.
"Also, prioritizing education. We need to bring our children back on top. Where we are now is unacceptable. Also, Medicaid and Medicare is important and providing for our seniors who have paid into it their whole lives. They have paid into these systems.
"... We also need to work on infrastructure growth because our communication throughout the district is lacking. I do see some growth with the rail system, but I'm not sure it's a priority right now.
"I also think hydrofracking needs to be discussed, and I don't think anyone else has touched on it. It's another industry that needs to be regulated and the safety needs to be looked at. It's definitely an option, though. As long as we look at the risks and protect the waters."
"Well I would say there are two big issues: jobs and economic development. I'm the only candidate in the race, even compared to Tom Reed, that has a record to bring jobs into an area.
"And so jobs and economic development are key, specifically in the areas of manufacturing; trying to bring back hi-tech manufacturing into the community. I think it will create a lot of middle-class jobs, but we also need to support small businesses. And the way we can do that is through low-interest financing. And also make it easier to afford health insurance.
"I think health care should be the No. 1 issue. I will be a strong defender of Medicare programs in this country. And I believe we need to make sure that health care becomes affordable and that we improve the quality, too."