After years of adjusting and handling the ripple effects of decisions made far away in Albany, Lisa Hoeschele decided it was time to address what seems, to her, to be a long-term difference in expectations of “well-meaning” legislators and the tangible ways their votes are carried out.
Hoeschele works as the CEO of Family and Children’s Counseling Services in Cortland, NY, and has been on the receiving end of plenty of those votes, both good and bad. She’s running on a platform that includes support for universal healthcare, the Green New Deal and student loan forgiveness, among plenty of other topics, though outside of policy positions Hoeschele said her run is motivated by a desire to serve as a connection between state government and those who have to deal with the fallout of policy action.
“I see this huge disconnect between policy in Albany and what’s rolled out on the ground,” Hoeschele said. “We have a very large Medicaid population, and folks with really terrible health insurance. We’re highly regulated, but those regulations don’t often make a lot of sense. I see this epidemic of despair, that was occurring even before the pandemic, that really shows a large segment of our population have not benefitted from any type of economic upturn that we, among the middle class, each think is occurring.”
Hoeschele said those people are the engine behind her inspiration to run for office originally, though the scope has now expanded because of the pandemic. Pragmatism and practicality are Hoeschele’s guiding mantras, vastly different than what’s currently produced by the state government, she contended. Hoeschele pointed out healthcare, mental health and addiction treatment, and education as the main examples of that sentiment -- troublingly, those policy areas are often necessary to access for society’s most vulnerable people.
“All of the areas that touch those who are most in need, we’re making policies that are not practical in terms of providing solutions to their problems,” Hoeschele said. “And I want to change that.”
Hoeschele, part of a crowded field of seven Democrats seeking to claim the party nomination in the June 23 primary, continued to make the case that a candidate’s prior experience in politics is not as important as having a tested approach that allows someone to gauge real-life impact and feasibility of policy decisions.
“Being able to think quickly on my feet, having connections in Albany that allow for policy implementation on a fast-track, being able to understand every aspect of policy,” Hoeschele said of herself. “I have a lot of connections in Albany that would allow me to specifically implement policy after fully vetting through the people on the ground that will be impacted by that policy.”
The campaign can be a time for evolution for any candidate, particularly as they engage both with voters and with opposing candidates. Hoeschele said she had shifted on some topics, though most of her process had involved researching topics that were brought up in forums or debates to make sure she was comfortable with her answers and feelings in all situations, not just being swayed by the conversation.
“I’ve had to really think through my feelings on vaccinations, and I firmly believe that we need to have a safe environment in schools for our kids, but I really had to dig deep into vaccination science to make sure that when I speak about that, I’m not trying to please the person in front of me, but that I have an honest answer that I feel comfortable with,” Hoeschele said. She does still support a vaccination mandate for school children who don’t have a physical reason to avoid them.
Hoeschele added that throughout the campaign she’s come to understand the importance of broadband internet as a topic going forward, something that has become far more clear as the pandemic has made web-conferencing and telehealth options so vital for people to stay at home.
Overall, it is clear that Hoeschele’s message is that considering her job and experience, she is more capable of navigating government and being able to provide substantive solutions to problems that will work both in theory and in practice.
“Government is important, government needs leadership,” Hoeschele said. “Government needs people who understand what the impact of their actions might be. [...] I’m doing this because I think I have something to bring to the table to support a larger group of people in our state and our community.”