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Voter guide: Karen Bisso
September 10, 2012 - Chris Morris
As mentioned in my previous blog post, here are Karen Bisso's responses to a list of questions I sent out as part of our coverage of the Republican primary in New York's new 115th Assembly District.
Consolidate into one sentence why you make a better, more effective member of the Assembly than the incumbent?
With 11% unemployment, two prisons closed, millions being wasted on land purchases, the North Country is definitely feeling the effects of the incumbent and the voters have asked for someone better.
What would your top priorities as a state lawmaker be?
The politically correct answer is jobs and the economy. Since this campaign is anything but, I would have to put it this way. There are 155 Assembly people and each puts forth an average of 100 bills per year. While many of these bills which make it through to the Assembly floor may be minor to downstate counties with much larger revenue streams, they could have the potential to do even more damage to our North County fragile economy. So, on any given day, my priority will be to make sure that none of that legislation passes. Additionally, the multiple attacks on our 2nd amendment rights which are being brought forth by downstate democrats which my staff and I are watching carefully would also be my priority.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in numerous recent visits to the North Country, has said he believes exciting things are happening in this region. He often cites the Regional Economic Development Council and other regional initiatives as evidence that the North Country has strong economic prospects. Do you agree? How do you view the state of the North Country?
Are you kidding me? What strong economic prospects? Again, shall I mention over 11% unemployment? The Regional Economic Development Program is nothing but a scaled down version of the failed Obama Stimulus plan. Please tell me how 10 million dollars to rebuild an abandoned railroad track to a closed paper mill, $175,000 to a mobile chicken plucker that is yet to pluck one chicken, and $300,000 to counsel first time homebuyers who can’t buy homes because there are no jobs, are examples of strong economic prospects? When did the taxpayers become a bank? Bombardier gets $1.9 million while companies like Jeffords Steel and Tri Town Packing invest their own money to stimulate the economy. I, unlike the current Assemblywoman, understand that grants aren’t free money. They are taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.
The only way to improve the state of the North Country as well as the rest of NY is to lower taxes and eliminate unfunded mandates which can’t happen with NY State constantly raising taxes so that it can hand out frivolous grants.
The unemployment rate in many North Country counties is still in the double-digits. What do you see as the biggest barriers to getting more people working, and how would you, as a state lawmaker, work to fix the problem?
The biggest barrier to getting people working is New York’s horrible anti-business reputation. In industry, NY is considered a dirty word. Why is it most of our elected officials cannot grasp the concept of lowering taxes, eliminating –not passing- regulation, and presenting NY in a positive light for both domestic and foreign investment? Once elected, I will target and eliminate legislation, which only lends itself to supporting NY’s bad image. I will also work to make sure that the power that is generated here is available for our use at low cost. Furthermore, I will take a hard line stance on NY agencies which stifle development and business growth like the APA.
Lawmakers have been talking for many years about easing state mandates on local governments, but so far, not much has been done to shift some of those burdens from local property taxes to state income and sales taxes. What would you do about it?
Let’s talk about baby steps and giant leaps. Baby step? New York State is supposed to pay 50% of the costs of our county Probation Departments. Currently, they are only paying 12%. The State should pick up the tab that they are supposed to. Giant Leap? If you get rid of the Regional Economic Development Council and take the $870 million that it is wasting on frivolous grants, the state could then keep its promise to all 62 counties by providing each county $14.7 million in relief to the huge unfunded mandate called Medicaid. This would be an enormous relief to the counties in the 115th Assembly District which would then eliminate the need to both raise property taxes and sales tax. This is a first step in making the area more attractive to potential employers.
Talk about how you, as a lawmaker, would interact with your constituents. Is the incumbent doing a good job when it comes to interacting with taxpayers, local officials and businesses?
I feel that for the last 7 months, I have been doing what an Assemblywoman should do. I have worked on and visited farms, attended gun shows, fire department meetings, and have traveled hundreds of miles on ATV rides. I have even sat in the kitchen and tasted the contaminated water of a homeowners group in Dannemora whose wells have been affected by the State DOT’s salt sheds. The job is working with, communicating with and knowing the people, business and organizations of the district and then representing their wants and needs in Albany. To my knowledge, the current Assemblywoman has done none of these things. Instead of asking us what WE need, she tells us what Albany is willing to give. My pledge as the Assemblywoman will be to have myself and my staff out in the field being proactive with these groups, organizations and local governments, not sitting in an office in Albany being reactive and waiting for these people to contact us as it is done currently.
According to recent polls by Siena and Quinnipiac, the state Legislature has improved its image with the public significantly in the last two years. How do you view the state Legislature?
The one qualification I lack in becoming an Assemblywoman, is I am physically unable to pat myself on the back as seems to be what the current Assembly spends most of their time doing. Apparently,
Siena and Quinnipiac did not do any polling in the 518 and 315 area codes. A poll was conducted at 75 events, over 1400 doors knocked on and several thousand people spoken with over the last 7 months by myself and my staff and my poll results are identical to the people reading this article: Nobody is happy and nobody is satisfied.
The Assembly is likely to retain its Democratic majority. As a Republican from a rural area, how would you bring attention to the issues that matter most to you and build relationships with people from across the political aisle?
If anyone believes that in politics they are just going to take the world by storm, they are sadly mistaken and naïve. The key to getting the job done is to be relentless. Everyone knows what the issues are for this area…..protect the 2nd amendment, register the ATVs, protect our family farms, bring industry not just seasonal tourism jobs to the area, and to accomplish this I must be prepared to constantly push these issues. As Assemblywoman, I am prepared to go door to door and present my case on our issues as many times as it takes, not just ask once and give up by saying, “My hands are tied,” and then vote 29 out of 32 times with downstate Democrats and call it bipartisanship.
Between new teacher evaluation systems and the Dignity for All Students Act, New York has passed big education laws this year. Is the state heading down the right path when it comes to reforming the education system? If not, what do you think the state is getting wrong and what are the best solutions?
If you think unfunded mandates are bad now, you haven’t seen anything yet. I have 27 years of experience in this arena and this is nothing more than an unfunded mandate being pushed on us by the state, coming from a soon to be unfunded mandate by the federal government in an attempt to nationalize our education system. What are the best solutions? Let’s go back to parents being parents, teachers being teachers and the local school districts attending to the learning needs of the children in their community. As I previously stated, with 27 years of experience in the education field, I am the most experienced candidate to handle educational issues in this race.
Quick hitters; where do you stand on the following issues?
Not an issue that has anything to do with the 115th Assembly District. It is a local issue. Next question.
I disagree with the current Assemblywoman who has forever changed the meaning of marriage in this state. I would have voted no. I believe the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.
Casino gambling (should it be expanded as Cuomo wishes)
Hasn’t Cuomo gambled with enough of our tax dollars with frivolous grants and stimulus programs? We already have enough casinos.
Minimum wage (should it be raised as Democrats have suggested)
No. Minimum wage jobs are entry level jobs which were never designed to support families. That is why we have to bring in companies offering better paying jobs to a skilled workforce.
Lawmaker pay (should legislators get a higher salary as some have proposed)
NO. If you really want to see the economy turn around, then base Assembly pay on the average pay of the constituents of their district with a salary cap of no more than what they are receiving for their base salary right now. (ie. Average pay in the 115th Assembly District is roughly $35,000 while our Assemblywoman grosses $175,000.)
Medical marijuana (should New York legalize it)
While at some point this issue will have to be addressed, we have much more important issues to tackle.
Janet Duprey has been at odds with the conservative wing of her party for a while now. That includes support for same-sex marriage, as well as her endorsement of Dede Scozzafava over Doug Hoffman. Does she still fit with the modern mood of the GOP?
Voting “Yes” on gay marriage, employing the assistance of Dede Scozzafava and her husband for petitions and union endorsements, applauding the Governor for the handling of the recent land acquisition and voting 29 out of 32 times with NYs most liberal Assembly people, stating to the Central Trades Union officials that she is proud of being a moderate and then receiving their endorsement, for a Republican, Janet Duprey makes an excellent Democrat.
Considering the fact that the Democrat in this race has not campaigned, has no website, has not filed a single required financial report, I firmly believe that should Janet Duprey lose the primary, Tim Carpenter will drop out of the race and the Democrats will endorse the current Assemblywoman given the strong ties she already has to the Democrat Party and their platform.
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