May 7—CANTON — A self-described moderate Republican woman who wants to challenge Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, in 2024 visited Canton on Saturday at Little Grasse Foodworks.
About 14 people, Democrats and Republicans, spent nearly 90 minutes talking with Jill A. Lochner from Greenfield in Saratoga County about her plans to challenge the fourth most powerful Republican in Congress.
"Politics is not supposed to be a civil war," Ms. Lochner said.
The polarization of the country and Rep. Stefanik's part in it inspired the 41-year-old, with no political experience, to run.
"I will be willing to listen across the aisle," she said. "I would represent all of NY-21, not just those that line up with my point of view."
Ms. Lochner said that while she had no political experience, she has had "real jobs that demand measurable results,"
Mrs. Lochner has worked in education for her entire professional life, focused on education for disabled students in her early years.
She has a master's degree in educational technology from Nazareth College in Rochester and became a state-certified elementary and special education teacher. In the late 2000s, Mrs. Lochner moved to New York City and began helping the city school district implement educational technologies.
Ms. Lochner said getting on the primary ballot next year will be tough.
"I don't have the backing of the Republican Committee to help with petitioning," Ms. Lochner said. "The system is set up not to have someone challenge the incumbent."
James Curtis, Canton, one of the Republicans at the meeting, said he, too, was sick of the political civil war.
"Your story aligns with our values," he said. "I think you are in for a battle. We know that there are grassroots people out there for you."
Ms. Lochner's views line up with Republican Party positions. She is for limited government, fiscal responsibility and upholding constitutional liberties, including the Second Amendment.
She said she is for women's reproductive rights and against banning books in schools.
"I trust schools to make these decisions," she said. "Librarians are trained and educated to do these things."
As a mother of four children between the ages of 5 and 9, she said she is in constant contact with teachers, that she gets notes and emails, attends meetings with teachers and goes to school board meetings.
She said that if parents want to have a say in their children's education, the opportunity has always existed.
Petitioning for the 2024 race won't begin until next February. Until then, Ms. Lochner said she will seek campaign staff and get out in the district to meet and talk with constituents.