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Cohoes Resident Challenges McDonald For 108th State Assembly Seat

New York State Assembly

In New York’s 108th state Assembly District, a Cohoes Republican is hoping to unseat a former city mayor going for a fifth term in Albany.

Republican Petros Papanicolaou is running against four-term Democratic incumbent John McDonald for a seat representing all of Cohoes and Rensselaer, and parts of Albany and Troy.

McDonald, who is 58, is a licensed pharmacist who owns Marra's pharmacy in Cohoes. After a fall of campaigning, he says the ongoing effects of the pandemic are a major campaign issue.

"We know that COVID is there, but we need to also keep working to improve the economy and opportunity for everybody. I know there's a lot of concern about the second wave and legitimately so. I think that the governor's approach now with the micro clusters, is more sensible, and quite frankly, as an upstate member who was dealing with a lot of frustration, because a lot of the infection early on, back in the spring of this year, was in the city, and upstaters we were basically upset that we were dealing with a downstate issue. Now, I think the message is very clear. If your community works to keep that infection rate low, you are rewarded, you are not penalized."

McDonald vows if reelected he will be focusing on education funding, workforce development opportunities and a comprehensive approach to the opioid crisis.

The 52-year-old Papanicolaou is a resident of Cohoes, a city he characterizes as long neglected and in need of major infrastructure repair. He is critical of the Green Light Law that gives undocumented immigrants access to state driver’s licenses. Unlike McDonald, Papanicolaou has been keeping a low profile.

"I did not campaign because of the corona. I don't believe anybody is going to open the door to somebody, a stranger, trying to talk to them. But I love Cohoes, I've been here for 12 years, my wife owns the house and I want to give back to the community and that's the reason why I came to this country, is first of all for education. I came in 1987. I have a bachelor's degree in economics and master's degree in financial economics from SUNY Albany. And that's the reason my father worked for the American liberty in Athens, Greece for almost 33 years. So I have a gratitude against the taxpayers who provide, you know, foods and roof over my head. So I want to do the same thing as I was the reason why I became a citizen in December of 2016."

Albany County Legislator Sam Fein, who list the primary to McDonald, also appears on the ballot:

"I'm not actively campaigning since I lost the Democratic primary in June, but the Working Families Party; it is an important part of our political system to hold our leaders accountable, push them to answer to working people over special interests and to push for important policies like a $15 minimum wage and landmark climate change legislation. So I'm using this as an opportunity to get out that message and also encourage people to vote the Working Families line for Biden-Harris." Fein adds he is not hoping to win the seat.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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