BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Director of Education for the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County is now throwing her hat into the ring for the democratic nomination in the race for the NY-27 congressional seat left vacant by Chris Collins.
Melodie Baker, 37, is a mother of 5 and lives in Clarence with her husband.
She will run against supervisor Nate McMurray seeking to be the democratic nominee.
“Someone said to me, ‘Why are you running? You are a mother, with children.’ But that is exactly why I’m running,” said Baker when she stopped by the 7 Eyewitness News studios Tuesday afternoon.
It was just hours after she announced her candidacy.
A decision that’s been some time in the making — and was inspired by a conversation with politician Stacey Abrams.
Baker has spent 14 years doing advocacy work involving education and health care.
She runs a small policy evaluation firm working on projects for government and nonprofit organizations.
She asked Abrams how to get policymakers to align with an agenda.
“She said, ‘If you want a policymaker to align with your agenda — you need to be the policy maker. The people who are passionate about the policies are the ones who should be in place making them.’”
7 Eyewitness News reporter Madison Carter asked Baker about her lack of experience in politics.
“Our forefathers never intended to have career politicians,” said Baker. “They intended to have regular working people, everyday people.”
Baker is running on a platform of creating economic opportunity through investments in education and expanding access to affordable health care and reducing medical debt.
She says her campaign will not accept money from any corporate PACS.
Raised in rural Texas and then moving to Buffalo with her family at a young age has had an impact on how Baker views a number of issues - including guns.
Her letter to Chairman Zellner says she learned to shoot a 12-gauge gun before she was a teenager, and she tells Carter her family has used guns for generations to hunt meals.
Baker supports the second amendment and the use of guns as tools, she says, but does not support their use as weapons.
“I certainly think people who have a history of violence and mental health instability, need to definitely not have those guns and even the type of guns — AK-47s do not belong on the street.
Chairman Zellner says it will be an uphill battle for Baker entering the race at this point ahead of the special election.
“Supervisor (Nate) McMurray certainly has a lot of support out there, and a lot of county leaders who have already put their names in to support and endorse him,” said Zellner.
But he feels Baker bring something unique to the race.
“She’s a more diverse candidate and a woman candidate. Women are lighting the world on fire, especially in our party right now.”
The Governor has not set a date for the special election after the seat was left vacant by Chris Collins.
Zellner said we could know within the next 90 days.
The Democratic Party has not yet endorsed a candidate.
“I’ve still got 21 towns in our county and 16 town leaders…who want their voices to be heard.”