Orleans Democrats urged to stay active in local elections despite advantages by Republicans
Comptroller rails against ‘triple whammy’ from Trump that would punish New Yorkers with lost healthcare, reduced federal funds for programs, and loss of deductions in income tax
ALBION – Orleans County Democrats were praised by two leading Democrats in the state government for fielding candidates in local elections.
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli both addressed about 100 people on Saturday at the Democratic Party’s fall dinner and rally.
“Don’t be daunted,” DiNapoli told the crowd. “People are outraged and they are waking up, and I guarantee you in Orleans County, a county that voted for Trump, that this is not what they voted for. They didn’t vote for a government that seems to be for sale, they didn’t vote for a government that is bringing us to the brink of conflicts around the world, they didn’t vote for a government where there is such infighting on their own side, let alone closing Democrats out of their opportunity to make decisions on important policy.”
DiNapoli said Orleans County will find itself the focus of a Congressional race of national importance next year. Chris Collins, the incumbent Republican, was the first member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, and remains an outspoken “apologist” for the president, even in the face of policy proposals that would harm the 27th District and the state, DiNapoli said.
“I guarantee next year all eyes will be on Orleans because of your Congressional race,” the comptroller said. “You have a great opportunity to really seize the day and make a big difference by electing a Democrat to represent you in the House of Representatives.”
DiNapoli said Trump has pushed a “triple whammy” of proposals that would hurt the state and its residents, from ending the Affordable Care Act, taking billions away the state in federal funding and also ending healthcare for 2 million New Yorkers. That would lead to more emergency room visits by residents without healthcare, trips that likely would not be paid for, he said.
The Trump and Republican budget would also chop about $1.2 billion from education and local government programs, nutrition, housing, and Meals on Wheels.
“Is that really what people were looking for when then voted for Trump in this county? I don’t think so,” DiNapoli said.
The tax cut proposal would benefit wealthy residents and expand the national deficit, he said. Losing state and local income taxes as deduction is “a crazy idea.” Collins and Tom Reed, a Congressman in the Southern Tier, were the only Repulbicans from New York to vote for the legislation last week.
“How could you have in your own community a member of Congress that would vote for that?” DiNapoli said. “It doesn’t make any sense. It will hurt you in your pocketbook.”
DiNapoli said the state has been doing OK overall. The strength of downstate has helped New York bounce back from the jobs lost during the Great Recession about a decade ago. However, many parts of the state, including Western New York, continue struggle, he said.
The greatest threat to the state, however, remains the policies from Trump and the Republican-led Congress, DiNapoli said.
“I’m concerned where we are headed,” he said. “We’ve never had a situation where Washington would be so hostile to our interests right here in New York State.”
Hochul said Trump and the Republican Congress have proposed policies that are an attack on working class families. She praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for pushing back hard against Trump. She urged the local Democrats, even in a county that is dominated by Republicans, to speak out, run for office and vote.
“We’re going to take back our country,” Hochul said.
DiNapoli said Orleans County can make a statement against that direction by electing Democrats to town and county offices on Nov. 7.
DiNapoli, who started his political career running for the Board of Education in Nassau County when he was 18. He served on that board for 10 years. That was his first public campaign and a chance “to be involved in politics at the grass roots level.”
In Orleans County, Republicans have a 2-to-1 advantage in enrolled registered voters over Democrats. That makes for an uphill battle for the Democrats.
DiNapoli praised the candidates for town and county offices, clerk, judge, and Town Board seats. “You are the ones who are building up our brand,” he said. “You are the ones who show that Democrats are there for good government.”
DiNapoli was invited to the fall rally by Jeanne Crane, the county’s Democratic Party leader. The local Democrats have two candidates running for seven County Legislature seats. Incumbent Fred Miller is unopposed by Republicans for a district seat that includes the towns of Albion and Gaines. Al Capurso is challenging incumbent Don Allport, a countywide legislator seat.
“When I grow up I don’t want to have any opposition just like Fred Miller,” DiNapoli told the crowd. “But it’s very lonely on the County Legislature. Al Capurso, you’re going to give him some company.”
The comptroller also thanked Tonia Ettinger for entering the race for County Court judge. She is backed by the Democratic and Conservative parties in an election against Sanford Church, a Republican. They are vying to succeed the retiring James Punch.
Besides the candidates at the county levels, Democrats are backing two in Barre: Cyndi VanLieshout for town supervisor and Maureen Beach for town Clerk. In Gaines, Democrats have endorsed Joe Grube for town supervisor, Susan Heard for town clerk, Toni Plummer for town justice, and Joyce Riley for the Town Board. Democrats also have backed Janet Bolton for town clerk in Kendall.
Two people who have announced their intentions to run against Collins for Congress attended the Democratic rally.
Sean Bunny, 35, lives in East Aurora. He is a graduate of Syracuse University and Army Officer Candidate School. He was a platoon leader in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum and served in Iraq in 2009. After his honorable discharge from the Army, he graduated from the University at Buffalo School of Law and joined the District Attorney’s Office in Erie County as a prosecutor. He left that job to run for Congress.
Nicholas Stankevich of Mumford in Livingston County last week announced his campaign. Stankevich grew up in Elma, Erie County. He is vice president of Marketing and Operations at Genesee Country Inn Bed and Breakfast at Mumford, and also works as an advisor for businesses.
Judge Erin Peradotto, a State Supreme Court justice, also attended the event in Albion and is seeking re-election to the 8th Judicial District.