Democratic candidate Nate McMurray rallied residents in Atwater Park in his bid for the 27th Congressional District

CANANDAIGUA — A sign waved by Vince Golbeck summed up why he and others rallied Wednesday in Atwater Park in Canandaigua.

Golbeck, a retired assistant Dallas Police chief who lives in Canandaigua, displayed, in all-caps: “Disgraceful Mr. Trump & Mr. Collins The military and first responders still believe in American values Not Russian values."

Golbeck was one of more than 60 people who turned out for the event sparked by a visit from Democratic candidate Nate McMurray. McMurray is challenging U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, to represent the 27th Congressional District, where Collins seeks a fourth term. The district stretches across western New York and covers more than half of Ontario County — including Canandaigua, Victor and Farmington.

Waving Vote McMurray signs and other messages — many of them targeting Collins — people stood outside the park along the curb of Main Street, as some passing by honked horns or gave the thumbs-up sign.

Canandaigua residents Barb Stahl and Amy Ogden said they came out to support McMurray because he is experienced, truthful and dedicated to American values — values they see as having eroded under the current Congress and Trump administration.

Michelle Ellwood of Canandaigua, who brought her two young children to the park, said she found Collins’ pro-Trump remarks following Monday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin “more horrifying than usual.” The stance taken by Trump and Collins with his “blind support” for Trump is a threat to national security, she said. 

McMurray, talking to supporters in the park, also zeroed in on the recent performance by Trump, which drew criticism from government leaders and others of both parties. Trump — who has since walked back on certain comments Monday — said among other things that he didn't see "any reason" why Russia would have been responsible for hacking the 2016 election, despite the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies. The president also said Monday that Putin's denials of interference were "extremely strong and powerful."

When McMurray asked if people are disgusted with Trump and Collins, cheers went up, as they did when McMurray said it’s time to “take our country back.”

“This is the country our veterans have fought so hard for,” said McMurray.

McMurray, who will face Collins in November, is town supervisor of Grand Island in Erie County and grew up in western New York. McMurray holds a law degree and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, is fluent in Korean and Mandarin Chinese, and is an expert in Korean culture and business. 

Many in the crowd were veterans or first responders, as indicated by a show of hands when McMurray asked.

One of those was Gunnar Johnson, an Army veteran who doesn’t live in the district. He turned out, he said, because voters everywhere must elect new leaders in Congress to protect American values and preserve Democracy.

Johnson, who lives in Fairport, talked one-on-one with McMurray about veterans'concerns, as the candidate talked also with others in the park, both individually and in small groups.

Others at the park included former Victor mayor Jason Ashton, a firefighter and Desert Storm veteran who McMurray quoted in a release announcing his Canandaigua visit.

“As a long time resident of Western New York who is a father, a veteran, and firefighter I want someone in Congress who represents our values,” Ashton stated. “I believe Nathan McMurray will bring the change needed to right the country again.”