Breaking the stalemate in Congress means reaching out across the aisle, a simple concept that has plagued the nation's Capitol for the last two years.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom Reed and Nate Shinagawa, battling for the 23rd Congressional District seat in Washington, preached a need for bipartisanship. Both conceded the task is easier said than done.
"We need to solve these issues," said Reed, a Corning Republican seeking his second term in Congress.
Rep. Tom Reed
Reed, the youngest of 12 children, noted his upbringing in a crowded, convoluted household - similar to the gridlock in Washington. "There were a lot of different points of view," he said. "There were a lot of different conversations going on."
Shinagawa pointed to his time serving as the hospital administrator at Robert Packer Hospital, overseeing a staff of 200 and a $500 million budget.
The Democratic candidate also noted his tenure on the Tompkins County Legislature, where a bipartisan budget was passed in 2008 and 2009.
"I've shown people that you can be the Democrat and work with somebody that is a Republican and still get things done," Shinagawa said.
Current conception of the 112th Congress, however, is less than flattering. Just last month, a Gallup Poll had Congressional approval ratings at 13 percent, a near all-time low for an election year.
A major factor of the low ratings, Gallup suggests, is due to the split in leadership - Republicans holding the majority in the House and Democrats in the Senate.
"Relationships are absolutely key," Shinagawa said. "So now how do we bring this to Washington?"
The Democratic candidate criticized Reed over his lack of support for a farm bill that has stalled in Washington. The bill assists crop payments and food assistance for the poor. A 2008 version of the legislation expired Sept. 30.
The 2012 edition of the bill overwhelmingly received bipartisan support in the Senate, but failed to gain traction with the House. Reed, who does not support the current version, expects legislation to be passed by the end of the year.
Shinagawa said without immediate approval, prices for dairy products - including cheese and milk - could double. He added that the stalled effort is just another example of a lack of accord by lawmakers.
"I'm a solutions-based person, that's always how I've been. That's how I've managed my budgets. And that's how I governed, and I will continue to take that same approach when I'm in Washington."
Shinagawa also said he would like to see members of Congress spend less time campaigning for re-election and more time serving constituents.
"The longer you stay out of campaign mode, the more you will be in governance mode," he said.
"That's going to be controversial," he continued, "but it's something that I would push for because I see the permanent campaign as one of the fundamental reasons why we don't have more bipartisanship and getting things done in Washington."
Reed, meanwhile, said building relationships with freshmen lawmakers is the first step to breaking the stalemate.
"One of the things they pick on me now in Washington is that I'm the guy that's always smiling," Reed said. "It's just the way I live my life, and that attracts other people."
He added: "You treat people with respect. You work hard."