Stec will run for NY Senate, prompting others to line up for his Assembly seat
Queesbury's Mark Westcott considers facing Stec in primary
QUEENSBURY — Republican Assemblyman Dan Stec on Wednesday officially announced his candidacy to replace the retiring Sen. Betty Little, triggering a wave of people lining up to replace Stec in the Assembly.
Horicon Supervisor Matt Simpson, former Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood and Willsboro Supervisor Shaun Gillilland have submitted letters of interest to run in the 114th Assembly District.
In addition, Stec may face a primary as former Queensbury at-large Supervisor Mark Westcott is exploring a run for the 45th Senate District.
Stec, R-Queensbury, said in a news release that he is running because after Little, R-Queensbury, announced her retirement last Thursday, “it’s so important that we elect someone that understands the issues we face, and has the experience and record of fighting on our behalf.”
“My top priorities have always been defending our values and fighting for common-sense solutions to the challenges we face,” he said in a news release. “This is why I’ve partnered with local law enforcement to oppose the bail reforms instituted by Senate and Assembly Democrats. It’s why I opposed giving drivers’ licenses, ‘free’ college tuition to illegal immigrants and other initiatives that put the rights of criminals before the well-being of our communities.”
Stec, who has been in the Assembly since 2013, cited his accomplishments as including passing the first countywide EMS bill for Essex County; advocating for the constitutional amendment to strip pensions from corrupt politicians; shepherding three other constitutional amendments that were important to the residents of the North Country; and obtaining funding for roads, water, sewer, broadband and cell service.
“This is the proven record of advocacy and accomplishment I want to bring to the state Senate. With one-party control, we need someone who will push back against the radical liberal tax-and-spend agenda that crushes our communities,” Stec stated.
The 45th Senate District includes all of Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Warren counties, as well as parts of St. Lawrence and Washington counties. Stec was first elected to the Assembly in 2012.
Stec said later Wednesday that running for Senate is a logical step because the 45th Senate District encompasses about 90% of the territory of his current Assembly district and he is familiar with the issues in Albany.
“The learning curve isn’t there for somebody that’s already there in the Assembly,” he said.
Stec said the state needs to address its fiscal situation.
“We have a $6 billion gap in a booming national economy,” he said.
Raising taxes is not the solution, he added.
Democrat Kimberly Davis, who announced her candidacy in May for the Senate seat, criticized Stec for “right out of the gate talking with vitriol that we see in Washington, D.C.”
“He’s in attack mode and that’s not needed,” she said.
Davis, who is the Clinton County treasurer, said she is not a tax-and-spend liberal.
“I will look at every bill regardless of who submits it –Republican or Democrat –through a financial lens and people will have to say how they will pay for what they want,” she said.
She said she also would not have supported the bail reform measure that would eliminate cash bail for most defendants.
“If he thinks that he is going up against a radical leftist, as he has stated in his announcement of the agenda, that’s not what he’s going to get in myself as an opponent. I am a proud Democrat, but as I stated, I know when you’re in there, you have to represent everybody,” she said.
Davis is the lone announced Democratic candidate.
Assemblyman Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh, sent out a news release Wednesday stating that he will not seek the Senate seat.
Stec may face a Republican primary.
Mark Westcott, who served as Queensbury supervisor-at-large from 2012 to 2015, said Wednesday that he was contacted by some people asking him to run after Little’s announcement.
“I reached out to some of my former political colleagues. The response was very positive, so I said, ‘Let’s put our heads together, look at the numbers and see what our path to victory is,'” he said.
If he were to run, Westcott said he would focus on getting the state’s fiscal house in order and rooting out corruption.
Tupper Lake Mayor Paul Maroun had been considering a run, but said Tuesday he would not challenge Stec in a primary because he believes it could be a bitter contest.
Warren County GOP Chairman Mike Grasso said there may be some other people interested in the seat.
Grasso said a prospective candidate must secure 55% of the votes of the members of the Republican committees to get the endorsement. However, Grasso believes the committees will support Stec because of his track record.
“He’s got the experience. He’s been pretty close with Betty and he knows what’s going on in the Senate. Also, he doesn’t need on-the-job training,” he said.
Glens Falls GOP Chairman Michael Borgos said he could not speak for the party but personally is supportive of Stec.
“I think he’s put in the time. I think he’s going to have widespread support throughout the Adirondacks. He knows the territory. He spends time up there on a regular basis. He’s not just phoning it in,” he said.
Little on Wednesday praised Stec’s work but stopped short of an endorsement.
“I’ve known Dan for a long time and we’ve worked together as a team,” she said. “I think he’s very qualified and would do a very good job, but I don’t want to jump ahead of the county chairs and the county committees with an endorsement.”
Open Assembly seat Stec’s bid leaves an opening in the 114th Assembly District, which covers all of Warren and Essex counties and portions of Saratoga and Washington counties.
Simpson, who has been Horicon supervisor for the last six years, said he believes he has the necessary experience because he also serves as president of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages.
“I’ve been very involved with these issues that are being decided in Albany,” he said.
He said an important issue is balancing protecting the environment and providing economic opportunities for residents of the park.
He would also like to expand cellular coverage, protect water resources from invasive species and pollution from salt and other contaminants, and improve wastewater treatment.
Wood, who served as Thurman supervisor from 2010 until resigning in January 2017, said she believes she has a good combination of experience.
“I have served in office successfully for a number of years, but also I am an average citizen of the district and I believe there is a need for a certain amount of practicality and common sense,” she said.
Wood cited her accomplishments as helping the town rebuild infrastructure and facilities after storms Irene and Lee and superstorm Sandy and helping to obtain internet access for people through the white space internet program, which has languished since Wood has left.
If elected, Wood said she wants to focus on obtaining money for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements and combating land-based invasive species that could damage the area’s maple farms.
Gillilland is chairman of the Essex County Board of Supervisors in addition to being Willsboro supervisor. He did not return an email seeking comment.
Grasso said he believes that Queensbury at-large Supervisor Doug Beaty also had expressed interest in running for the Assembly but had not made up his mind.
Former Plattsburgh Mayor Donald Kasprzak may also be interested in the seat, according to the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. Kasprzak did not return a call seeking comment.
On the Democratic side, Glens Falls 3rd Ward Supervisor Claudia Braymer has expressed interest in running for Stec’s Assembly seat.
Grasso said it is going to be an interesting election season.
“You’re going to need a scorecard,” he said.