With less than a month to go before Election Day, Dan Stec and Dennis Tarantino continue to make their pitch to voters in New York's new 114th Assembly District.
The candidates squared off in a debate last month in Queensbury, and since then they've been campaigning nonstop, meeting with local elected officials and making the rounds at community events throughout the district.
Each candidate received two endorsements last week. Stec picked up support from the National Rifle Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB's New York state director, Mike Durant, said in a press release that Stec "has demonstrated the strongest support for the small business agenda."
Dennis Tarantino and Dan Stec debate Sept. 25 in Queensbury.
(Enterprise photos — Chris Morris)
Tarantino received backing from two unions: the Service Employees International Union Local 200 United and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 910.
New York's new 114th Assembly District includes all of Essex and Warren counties as well as the northern parts of Saratoga and Washington counties. The district is currently the 113th and has been represented by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, since 2003. Sayward will retire at year's end to spend more time with her family.
Dan Stec will be on the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines. He is supervisor of the town of Queensbury and chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
Dennis Tarantino will be on the Democratic and Working Families party lines. He is sole proprietor of the Kenneally and Tarantino law firm and owner of Maple Abstract and Realty Corporation, both in Glens Falls.
Both candidates agreed that the biggest challenge for upstate school districts is the state's formula for distributing aid.
"Often the school aid formula favors downstate schools, leaving our upstate schools with big challenges in funding a high quality education that prepares our kids for the new economy," Stec said. "I will work to remedy the school aid formula."
Tarantino said reforms to crack down on cyberbullying and new teacher evaluation systems will have a positive impact on the state's education system, but he also stressed that funneling more state aid to rural school districts is the most important step Albany can take.
"We've got to figure out this aid formula and get some more aid to the schools," Tarantino said. "There's nothing more important than getting these kids educated."
While hydraulic fracturing of underground shale deposits to extract natural gas won't affect North Country communities, some proponents say it will have a positive impact on the state's economy. Opponents say the practice could jeopardize water quality.
Stec said if the state departments of Health and Environmental Conservation deem "fracking" safe, it would be "worth exploring as part of an overall economic recovery plan.
"The decision that is ultimately made should be based on science and should respect the wishes of the local municipalities," he said.
Tarantino said he doesn't like to be labeled as pro-development or as an environmentalist. He said the state is right to require expert review before moving forward.
"My first reaction was as a businessman and as somebody who has represented farmers in the past - it's a good thing," Tarantino said. "Then you start to look at the rest of the story. ... If we're going to do hydro fracking, we better have in place a bond - maybe a bond, maybe force these companies to put up money in escrow - so if that unfortunate thing happens that the environmentalists say could happen, we can draw on it and fix it.
"That doesn't mean I'm supporting hydro fracking. I'm going to look at it; I'm going to listen to both sides of the argument."
In 2011, New York state passed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage. Some Republican lawmakers, like state Sen. Roy McDonald of Saratoga, crossed party lines to vote for the bill. McDonald paid a price for that vote, losing a Sept. 13 Republican primary to Saratoga City Clerk Kathy Marchione, who is against same-sex marriage.
Tarantino called same-sex marriage a dead issue, despite the fact that it became a focal point of several Republican primary races in New York state, including the race for his neighboring 115th Assembly District. He declined to state whether he supports it.
Stec said he would not have supported same-sex marriage legislation.
"I view marriage traditionally as most other New Yorkers do - between one man and one woman," he said. "With that said, I recognize that this model does not work for everyone and that this question has been addressed by the state already recently. However, rather than redefining marriage, I would suggest that virtually all rights and benefits can be provided to all by simply creating a structure to allow for civil unions as a legal status to provide the benefits most of us associate with traditional marriage."
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, whose son is gay, defiantly broke ranks with her party to vote for the legislation, stating in March that she was "proud to stand up, speak out and vote in support of marriage equality for all New Yorkers."
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.