CANTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — All eyes are on the North Country as candidates vie to represent the 21st Congressional District in this year’s race.

Washington County native Matt Putorti is one of the two democratic candidates running ahead of the August 23 Primary Election.

NY-21 is the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi River, resulting in a diverse constituent base such as rural communities, farmers, active duty soldiers, small business owners, and more.

Putorti said his personal experience will help him represent the wide variety of lifestyles.

“I’m the son of small business owners, my brother-in-law is from a dairy farm in Washington County. I know this area, I know the things people are facing,” Putorti explained.

Given recent tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde, one of the candidate’s top priorities is reducing and preventing gun violence across the North Country through a federal assault weapons ban.

“To be sure, I support the second amendment,” Putorti explained. “But we need to be doing what we can to keep our communities safe while protecting lawful gun owner’s rights to own and possess weapons.”

This push to protect individual rights, Putorti said, extends to other issues.

“Protecting women’s rights, the rights to an abortion, rights that extend to everybody, contraception, same-sex marriage, interracial marriage,” he listed. “There is this renewed push because we know these rights can be taken away very, very quickly.

In his campaign, Putorti is also focusing on lowering the costs of childcare, fighting food insecurity, finding low-income housing solutions, and addressing climate change.

He said he believes he has what it takes to find solutions.

“The problems that we’re facing, the solutions that we need to address them are across party lines,” Putorti emphasized. “We’re facing real issues, we need somebody who will fight.”

Putorti will face Democratic candidate Matt Castelli in New York’s Primary Election on Tuesday, August 23. If successful, he will go on to face Congresswoman Elise Stefanik in the November 2022 general election.