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NY Special Elections Include 102nd, 107th Assembly Districts

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Voters head to the polls Tuesday for special elections to fill 11 vacant seats in the New York state Legislature.

In February, Governor Andrew Cuomo set an April 24 special election date for seats including the 107th district Assembly spot formerly held by Republican Steve McLaughlin, who became Rensselaer County Executive, along with the 102nd district Assembly seat vacated by Republican Pete Lopez, who was appointed Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September.

Democrat Aidan O’Connor Jr. and Republican Chris Tague are vying for Lopez's old seat.

O’Connor is a Greene County Legislator and a paramedic who has dealt with the opioid crisis first-hand. O’Connor said he’s supported policies to help those struggling with addiction — needle exchanges, medication drop-offs, and Narcan training. But he says it’s not enough. “We need inpatient services. We need beds. We need visit facilities with the right-guided patient population specialists to get these individuals in somewhere, get them solving their issues and addictions, and letting them get back go back out into the community and live their lives as best they possibly can.”

Tague says the district needs a hands-on Assemblyperson, the kind Lopez was. He has been Schoharie’s town supervisor since January 2016, where he says he attracted investment. “We were actually able to cut taxes by .76 percent this past year and we did it because we went out and we found some businesses, we brought them in. We were able to put properties back on the tax rolls.”

Wes Laraway, a teacher at Middleburgh Central School, is running as an independent. The district includes all of Schoharie County and parts of Otsego, Delaware, Greene, Columbia, Ulster and Albany Counties.

The 107th district most recently served by McLaughlin is evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. It includes parts of Rensselaer, Columbia and Washington Counties.

Democrat Cindy Doran was a teacher in the Troy City School District for 28 years and has represented Troy in the Rensselaer County legislature for six years.  Doran sees the core issues as opioid addiction and getting schools their fair share of financial support. Doran also mentioned the environment and concern about gun violence and gun-related crime.  "I'm in a position where I can devote every day to moving this district forward. And I have the skill set, I have the temperament, I have the experience in the legislature, and that's very important. I have served on committees, I have drafted resolutions. My opponent has not done that."

Republican Jake Ashby is a former U.S. Army captain from Castleton elected to the county legislature last fall. He is also concerned about the opioid epidemic, health care and growing small business. "I think I'm well prepared for this. My education, background and medical, I have an MBA in health care management from Union Graduate college and my education I think is diverse enough to give me a broad understanding and I think my personal experience and professional experience speaks for itself."

Ashby says he strongly supports 2nd Amendment rights.

After the special election Tuesday, candidates would have to seek a full two-year term when the entire legislature is up for grabs in November.

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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