MASSENA, N.Y. (WWTI) — Matt Castelli is one of two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the 21st Congressional District seat in November.

Castelli, a former CIA agent, said his goal for his campaign has to put “country before party.”

“I’m not just running as a Democrat,” he said. “I’m also running as a member of the moderate party. Something we established here at the beginning of this race and we had tremendous support,” he said.

The January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was one of the reasons Castelli decided to run for Congress, he said, given his experience in national security. But after more than a year campaigning, Castelli said he believes North Country voters are most concerned about the rising cost of daily life.

Castelli proposes making more community investments in childcare, healthcare and mental health resources.

“This is an opportunity where we can come together and actually make investments in our community,” Castelli said. “To help grow our economy and reduce costs for working families.”

Castelli said he will show up for all voters, regardless of political party.

“It’s making yourself available to listen to the top concerns of all constituents. Yes, our servicemembers outside places like Fort Drum. Yes, our agricultural industry, our farmers. The first step is actually showing up and listening to folks,” he concluded.

Castelli will face Democratic candidate Matt Putorti in New York’s primary on August 23. If successful, he will go on to face incumbent Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in the November 2022 general election.