NORTH RIVER — A former U.S. speedskater turned crime victim advocate is seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, to represent New York’s 21st Congressional District.
Bridie Farrell, a Democrat originally from Saratoga Springs, announced she would be entering the race Wednesday via a video posted to her Twitter feed touting her North Country roots and criticizing Stefanik as a “far-right” politician more focused on gaining national prominence than serving her constituents.
“I won’t divide people for political gain,” she says in the video. “I’ll never forget the people I’ve been elected to represent.”
Farrell, who currently resides in North River, was a nationally recognized speedskater by 13, competing in four Olympic trials between 1998 and 2014. At one point, she held several U.S. records in the sport.
She would later turn her attention to advocating for crime victims after revealing she was sexually abused when she was 15 by a 33-year-old speedskating teammate, who she considered a mentor.
Farrell launched a nonprofit, America Loves Kids, to help support abuse survivors. In 2019, she lobbied state lawmakers to pass the Child Victims Act, which extended the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims.
In a statement, Farrell said she is running to represent the North County in order to ensure the communities that shaped her have the representation they deserve.
“I was taught that everyone’s opinion can be voiced and should be heard. When you do a job, you do it right. We need someone in Washington with North Country values instead of someone who is focused on her own gain at the expense of our communities,” she said.
Farrell joins a growing field of Democratic candidates seeking to unseat Stefanik, now in her fourth term, in next year's midterm elections.
Matt Putorti, a Whitehall lawyer, announced his candidacy last month. Ezra Watson, of Wilton, has also announced plans to enter the race.
In a statement, Putorti said he was looking forward to running on the issues and earning the Democratic nomination.
“I am excited for a campaign on the issues that matter to the people of upstate New York," he said. “Growing up in the North Country taught me about service, community, empathy and patriotism. Those are the values I have lived and demonstrated my entire life — and the values I know a majority of the people in this area hold as well."
But the Stefanik campaign blasted Farrell's campaign announcement in a statement of its own, calling her a far-left Democrat whose values do not represent the North Country.
Stefanik has recently risen to national prominence, assuming the No. 3 leadership position among House Republicans after Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney was ousted from the position.
Cheney had backed a Democratic-led impeachment inquiry into former President Donald Trump and has criticized efforts to overturn last year's election results after numerous Republicans, including Stefanik, questioned the validity of the results in some states.
"Far-Left New York City Democrat Brigid "Bridie" Farrell only registered in NY-21 just weeks ago — even more recently than Far-Left NYC lawyer Matt Putorti," Alex DeGrasse, a senior adviser to Stefanik, said in a statement.
He added: "Our campaign welcomes these radical candidates to the race and to the North Country! Team Elise will continue to make sure voters know there is a clear choice between real results for the North Country and yet another Far-Left New York City Democrat who will rubber-stamp the reckless policies of Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Andrew Cuomo."