State Senate hopeful Kevin Beary on weed, abortion and New York’s $6 billion deficit
SARANAC LAKE — Kevin Beary announced his campaign to run for retiring state Sen. Betty Little’s New York 45th Senate District seat last month by focusing on economics, tourism and his history. Now he is talking about his wider platform.
Beary, a Republican and retired English teacher from Colton in St. Lawrence County, wants New Yorkers to be able to grow their own marijuana plants, the state to not celebrate or expand abortion, and taxpayers to not pay for “pipe dream” projects.
Grow your own marijuana
Beary said he thinks marijuana legalization is important, but while Gov. Andrew Cuomo has focused on the revenue aspect of legalization taxing pot sold commercially, Beary believes people should be able to grow the plant themselves, in moderation.
He said there would have to be a limit, because when it blooms in large quantities it puts off a dank odor that could be obnoxious to nearby residents. He does not want this limit to be strictly enforced, unless there is a complaint. He call this “garden-sized” growing.
“I wouldn’t want to see a situation where you have law enforcement going into people’s houses to see if they have (more than) the limit,” Beary said.
He said pharmaceutical companies and other business looking to sell pot do not want home-grown weed legalized, as they might lose billions of dollars in revenue if they don’t have exclusive growing rights. Beary said he checked what the price of medical marijuana extract is online in the Potsdam area. He said 30 milliliters, less than a shot glass, costs $1,200.
“Unless it’s covered by insurance, a lot of people can’t afford to pay that,” Beary said. “And also, even if it is covered by insurance, the reason health insurance is so expensive is because of the price of these drugs.”
He said he believes marijuana is the opposite of a gateway drug, that it discourages people from seeking out harder, more dangerous drugs. In response to the idea that people are always looking for something stronger, he points to alcohol and said many alcoholics drink beer, while liquor is stronger.
He said drug abuse and addiction are not a law enforcement problem but a mental health problem.
He said no county should opt out of legalizing marijuana because it would create a crime situation in that county.
When asked about legalizing other drugs, he said his focus is on marijuana.
Beary said he would have voted against the Reproductive Health Act because, he said, it legalized late-term abortion.
He said he has no plans to try overturning Roe v. Wade or the Reproductive Health Act, as he believes that would create an illegal market for abortion. He said he wants to change the atmosphere around public thought on children, birth and abortions.
He said that he did not like what he saw in a video of the signing of the Reproductive Health Act.
“There was a celebratory atmosphere to the thing that I found very inappropriate,” Beary said. “I don’t think abortion is something to celebrate.
“I think young women are being told today that if they have an abortion they are somehow affirming themselves as individuals or as people.”
He said he feels that women are sometimes being “pressured” into abortions by society, the same way a boyfriend would pressure a girlfriend to get one.
“There should be a curriculum in the schools, and also in the universities, about the positive aspects of having children and having a family and being a mother,” Beary said. “To kind of counteract that pressure on them to have an abortion … to give them a real choice.
“Women as well as men,” he continued. “You could say ‘Well, the man isn’t giving birth.’ Yes; but he’s the father, he’s responsible for the child. He can’t walk away. … Legally, his responsibility is recognized.”
Medicaid and the deficit
Regarding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address Jan. 8, Beary said he does not think counties should not have to help pay for Medicaid. The state has gradually lowered counties’ share in recent years by picking up yearly increases, but Cuomo’s speech led some to suspect that trend may not continue.
He said New York is one of the only states where counties are responsible for Medicaid, and that it is “insane.”
“This $6 billion deficit, they should not try to deal with it by raising people’s property and school taxes,” Beary said.
His solution is to control spending. Beary said the state has to stop funding projects that are “pipe dreams,” “non-essential” or “white elephants,” a term for projects that fail to live up to expectations.
“Projects like that add up,” Beary said. “No businessman would invest his own money in any of these schemes, but of course the government, it’s not run like a business. They kind of have an unlimited supply of funds that they can tap just by raising taxes.”
He’s run before
Beary has run for office twice before. In 2017 he ran for Colton town supervisor, after the town settled an assessment with Brookfield Renewable Partners reducing the tax assessment of its hydroelectric dams in his town by $30 million.
“The difference had to be made up by the homeowners,” Beary said. “I think they (the town board) just didn’t put up enough of a fight.”
He ran again in 2018 to be a St. Lawrence County legislator for District 7. He believes fusion voting cost him that election. Fusion voting is when one candidate runs on multiple political party ballot lines and the votes on all those lines are aggregated.
His opponent in 2018 ran on the Democratic, Working Families and Conservative lines. Beary said if he had received the 50 votes that were cast for his opponent on the Conservative line, he would have won the election. He thinks fusion voting should be abolished, because he does not think people should be running on political lines that contradict their politics.
Cuomo’s selected commission almost abolished it this year, and succeeded in limiting it.
Kimberly Davis from Clinton County is running for Little’s open 45th District seat on the Democratic line.
Beary currently faces one other Republican in the primary, state Assemblyman Dan Stec, R-Queensbury.
“I have nothing against him as a candidate,” Beary said. “I just think I can bring a different perspective, a fresh perspective to Albany because I’m not a professional politician.”