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Jul. 21—Bridie Farrell, a child abuse survivor, activist and former national speedskater, announced her campaign Wednesday to challenge Rep. Elise Stefanik in the state's 21st Congressional District.
"From the ice in Lake Placid and the trails in the High Peaks, to my crowded family kitchen table in Saratoga, my values and drive to compete and succeed were born in the North Country," Farrell said in a release announcing her candidacy.
Growing up in Saratoga Springs, Farrell was a nationally-ranked speed skater by age 13. She competed in four different Olympic trials and traveled around the world on the national speedskating team.
When she was 15, Farrell was sexually abused by a 33-year-old mentor and teammate. Later in her life she spoke out about her childhood abuse and became a prominent activist advocating for New York's Child Victims Act, which became law in 2019 and enabled victims of child abuse to come forward with sometimes decades-old allegations. She advocated for similar laws in New Jersey and Arizona, which were also eventually passed.
"I am a survivor," she said in a campaign announcement video. "And this is about all of us. We are survivors. We are strivers. We are dreamers."
Farrell joins attorney Matt Putorti, of Whitehall, in the Democratic primary. The Stefanik campaign on Wednesday wasted no time dismiss Farrell's candidacy as the "third far-left candidate" in the race, "all of whom support Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Andrew Cuomo and their racial, socialist policies hurting North Country families."
The Stefanik campaign has also sought to paint the challengers as carpetbaggers who only recently registered to vote in the district.
"Our campaign welcomes these radical candidates to the race and to the North Country!" the Stefanik campaign wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Farrell now lives in North River in the Adirondacks; she founded a nonprofit organization, America Loves Kids, to support abuse victims and advocate with policymakers.