Former New York Republican Congressman Chris Gibson was in Poughkeepsie Thursday, giving a talk on leadership. He addressed graduates of a regional leadership program and weighed in on the federal healthcare bills.
After delivering his speech to the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress Fellows graduates, Gibson, a retired Army colonel and former three-term congressman from the 19th District, took questions, including one about who he thought was having a worse season, the Mets or Congress?
“Look, that’s a very tough question, actually,” Gibson says. “I think that, when it comes to Congress, there were some a priori strategic decisions that were made that are causing things now to really stack up.”
Gibson says Congress is not working in a bipartisan manner on healthcare.
“I think that, when it comes to the healthcare situation, look, my record speaks for itself. I think people know where I stand on this. I think we need a new healthcare system,” Gibson says. “But I think both parties are really in denial here.”
Following a House bill, the Senate just released its healthcare bill. Gibson says partisan Democrats believe Obamacare will continue to work.
“Well, the Republicans think that they’re going to be able to replace this with only Republican policy. I mean, they haven’t learned anything about what happened in 2010 and I don’t even think they’ll be successful,” Gibson says. “The fact of the matter is is we’ve got to have a bipartisan healthcare system. And it should work to lower cost, expand access and keep quality care. There aren’t any panaceas out there but there are, I believe, ideas that we can get both parties to support.”
“I don’t think we’re solving this in the next 18 months. I just, I’m being very candid with you,” Gibson says. “ I don’t think the Repub… The Republican-only plans aren’t going to get enacted and I think ultimately we’re going to need real leadership that says we’re going to have to do this together.”
Gibson, a visiting professor of leadership studies at Williams College, used stories from his Army days to illustrate successful leadership attributes, such as getting it right and building trust in one’s organization.
“You need to be consistent,” Gibson says. “You need to be transparent and accountable.”
Pattern for Progress President and CEO Jonathan Drapkin says Gibson’s guiding points of leadership are highly applicable to the fellows.
“There’s no question that if you listened to what they were they applied to whether you’re the head of a not-for-profit, whether you work in local government,” Drapkin says. “They’re sensible concepts for leadership, and, after all, the Pattern Fellows program is a program that features regional leadership so he couldn’t have been a more appropriate speaker.”
Democrat Dana Levenberg is Ossining town supervisor and former Pattern fellow.
“He talked a lot about partisan politics and he talked a lot of about reaching across the aisle and really having to have conversations, listening and character building and having to get past ‘us versus them’. And I think that is truly our only way forward is if we can all communicate with one another and to compromise,” Levenberg says. “And I think comprise is very, very important at this time.”
Gibson also answered a question about his book “Rally Point” due out in October, which is highly autobiographical. He says it is about the state of the country and what can be done. Gibson decided not to seek reelection in 2016. He says he’ll consider another run for political office once his youngest child graduates from high school.
“In June of 2019, we’ll take a look and see if it makes sense for me to get back in to national leadership,” says Gibson. “But, at the moment, I’m really relishing spending more time with family. I love the classroom. I’m having a tremendous experience at Williams College, and I really enjoy writing.”
Gibson’s Kinderhook neighbor Republican John Faso now represents the district. Gibson’s luncheon address for Pattern’s Fellows program was at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel. The fellows program, celebrating its 10th anniversary, aims to sharpen Hudson Valley leaders’ abilities to address issues from a regional perspective.