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Race for 113th Assembly District Seat Heats Up

The campaign to fill New York’s vacant 113th Assembly District Seat in Saratoga and Washington Counties is under way.

The 113th District has been without representation in Albany since Republican Tony Jordan left to become Washington County District Attorney in January. Because the governor did not call for special elections, the two candidates have been on the campaign trail for months.

Democrat Carrie Woerner, a small business owner and Round Lake Village Trustee, lost to Jordan in 2012, but will now face off against Republican Steve Stallmer, of Saratoga Springs, who previously served as Hudson Valley Republican Congressman Chris Gibson’s chief of staff.

Woerner has campaigned on women’s equality, and supports the passage of Governor Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, which includes provisions for equal pay and abortion rights.

“Everyone who does equal work should be paid the same, and I am very committed to righting this wrong,” said Woerner. “It impacts our families, it impacts women who are head of households, and it’s just not right. It has to stop.”

All 10 points of the WEA were passed by the Democrat-controlled Assembly in the previous session; the Senate, controlled by breakaway Independent Democrats and Republicans in a power-sharing coalition, approved all measures except the abortion provision. The Assembly then chose not to pass the nine agreed-upon points. Republican Steve Stallmer:

“This is a perfect example of ‘if you agree on 9 out of 10, and 9 out of 10 would pass unanimously or overwhelmingly’, pass all 9 and keep negotiating the 10,” said Stallmer.

“We can make historic legislation to improve and protect the lives of women, and for political reasons we’re choosing not to do so,” added Stallmer.

New York’s minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $9 by the end of 2015. Advocates have been calling for an increase beyond that. Woerner said any discussion to raise the wage should be comprehensive in scope.

“We need to be thinking about the impact on the small business owner, so we want to put more money in the pockets of the people who are doing the work – that benefits the economy, it makes our families more stable. But we also need to focus on what drives the cost of labor for, particularly, small business owners and make this a comprehensive approach.”

Regarding a raise in the wage, Stallmer said considering the tourism-based economy of the district, there should be distinctions made between wage-earning students and teens versus wage-earning adults and parents.

“They’re not feeding a family – they’re trying to put money away to go to school, to take a vacation, to have fun, to buy stuff – clothes, shoes, whatever it may be – so to raise the minimum wage for them, to me, is a different scenario than raising the minimum wage for a family – a mother and father that have kids to support, that are just trying to make ends meet,” said Stallmer.

Stallmer has proposed cutting income taxes as one way to boost take-home pay.

Both candidates support the phase-out of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, aid cuts to school districts made at the height of the economic recession to fill a state budget deficit. Both candidates agree that the smaller upstate school districts are more negatively affected by the cuts. The candidates also both want an overhaul of New York’s Common Core testing requirements.

The candidates are each taking a stand against corruption at the capital, a regular election-year issue. Steve Stallmer said corruption is prevelant in both parties, and would support term-limits on legislative leaders, and other measures.

“There’s bills that I would support and hopefully get a vote that would tighten up what you could actually use campaign funds for, it would increase the penalties for people that commit crimes, it would remove your pension if you’re found guilty of this stuff,” said Stallmer.

Democrat Carrie Woerner…

“In my mind, if you are convicted of a crime, particularly a crime that you have committed in office, then frankly, you lose your state salary, you lose your pension, and your benefits. Period, end of story.”

While the two candidates may agree on many of the most serious issues facing the district, Woerner labeled Stallmer as a political insider, and touted her experience in small business and local government.

Meanwhile, Stallmer said while both candidates may describe themselves as fiscal conservatives, he criticized Woener’s record in Round Lake, saying public spending has gone up when she’s been a village trustee.

Both Woener and Stallmer faced no primary challenger.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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