Dana Balter

U.S. House, New York 24

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Who am I?

I learned the value of fearless advocacy at a young age, growing up with a younger brother with cognitive disabilities. He taught me that we are stronger when everyone is included. So I’ve spent my life pushing our society toward that goal.

I began my career in the field of special education, working at a nonprofit that provides support services to adults with cognitive disabilities. I began as a teacher and became the Director of Education. Ensuring our clients had the support they needed to live rich, full lives was immensely gratifying. But I realized that to help all families we really needed systemic change. So I returned to graduate school to study Public Administration.

I spent years at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University studying and teaching citizenship, policy, administration and democracy. After the 2016 election, I became a community organizer to fight for a stronger and fairer central and western New York. And I recently founded a nonpartisan nonprofit to build civic engagement because I know we thrive when every voice is heard and everyone participates in shaping our community.

In 2018, I was the Democratic nominee for Congress - and we gave John Katko the closest race of his life. I did 16 points better than the Democrat who ran in 2016 - and we came within 5 points of beating John Katko. Our campaign broke records - over 1,900 active volunteers, over 40,000 donors, the largest fundraising quarter in NY-24 history.

What am I fighting for?

I’m proud to call central New York my home. But I’ve grown increasingly frustrated watching the entrenched powers in Washington DC dictate policy that harms working families. We’ve been left out and left behind for too long. The fighting spirit I developed by my brother’s side requires me to stand up and demand better for myself, my neighbors, and our communities.

I believe in a society where everyone has a fair shot. Where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Where we put people first and where everyone who works hard can build a better future for their family. I stand with workers to demand a world where jobs come with living wages and worker protections. I stand with students to demand a world where every child–no matter where they live–has access to excellent public schools. I stand with future generations to demand a world where we invest in renewable energy so that we can grow our economy and preserve our planet. I stand with families to demand a world where we rid our communities and schools of gun violence because every child has the right to survive to adulthood. I stand with seniors, people with disabilities, and people living in poverty to demand a world where we protect and expand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I stand with patients to demand a world where every single person in this country has healthcare.

That’s why I’m running for Congress in NY-24.

My DFA Values

I ran a campaign in 2018 based on the notion that it was time to bring politics and government back to the hands of the people where they belong. Because of our commitment to that idea, we truly built a movement in central and western New York. We had more than 100 house parties, held open town halls in every part of the district, and involved more than 1,900 volunteers. We intentionally campaigned in parts of the district candidates and elected officials typically ignore. These are just some of the ways I demonstrated my commitment to showing up everywhere and listening to everyone.

And everywhere we went we talked about values. We connected the history of our region–a place at the leading edge of the abolition movement, the women’s suffrage movement, and the movement for environmental justice–to our campaign’s modern day fight for justice and equity. We discussed the policies that will allow us to redress past and current injustices and build a future for our region and our country that guarantees opportunity to all of us.

Our powerful grassroots campaign carried me to victory over the DCCC-backed candidate in the primary by 25 points, proving that voters will choose a strong, values-based campaign over handpicked party insiders.

And we will do it again because this is a time for leaders who do what’s right, not what’s easy. Strong, fearless leaders who will stand up to powerful interests and fight tirelessly for the people.

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