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Klee Hood, Mannion debate on WRVO ahead of June 25 primary

Sarah Klee Hood / John Mannion
Sarah Klee Hood / John Mannion

The Democratic primary for central New York’s 22nd Congressional district is heating up. The two candidates hoping to take on incumbent Brandon Williams (R-Sennett) have been sparring in debates and forums, including on WRVO’s Campbell Conversations.

At its core, the June 25 primary will determine the candidate who has a chance to wrest central New York’s congressional seat from Brandon Williams. During a debate moderated by Campbell Conversations host Grant Reeher, DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood said in order to flip the 22nd District Congressional seat, Democrats have to align themselves strategically with voters, and said she has the qualifications to do it.

“We need a nominee that is able to contrast and compete with Brandon Williams and win over some of that support,” said Klee Hood. We need a veteran. Veterans that give Republicans and Independents an opportunity to vote for a Democrat that they normally would never have voted for. In a post-Roe era, women are mad, man. I am pissed off. We need a woman that is going to be able to support women's rights regardless of the political tides. And we need a candidate, let's be frank, that isn't burdened by ties to Albany."

Her opponent, State Sen. John Mannion (D-Geddes) said he has the legislative and electoral success needed to win a general election, noting he has won in a district with a Republican enrollment advantage.

“In my last election, 7,000 more Republicans voted than Democrats and I won. I work with everyone,” said Mannion. “33 municipalities, 29 of them are run by Republicans, so I have a proven track record and I believe that it's not just great campaigning or whatever. It's also the deep relationships that I have in the region. I was a teacher, my wife and I have lived here our entire lives. I was a union president and all those things are contributing factors."

Abortion rights are a major issue in this campaign, and many others around the nation. Both Mannion and Klee Hood support abortion, but there are nuances. In a campaign ad, Klee Hood suggested Mannion supports limits on abortion. Mannion said he supports the Reproductive Health Act enacted by the state legislature in 2019.

“What the Democratic majority voted on in that time and what I support is up to 24 weeks, and then beyond that is the health, mental health, risk of life to the mother, or an unviable fetus when an abortion can occur,” Mannion said.

Klee Hood supports H.R. 12, the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023.

“Which prohibits governmental restrictions on the provision of and access to abortion services,” said Klee Hood. “We need to trust that our women have the cognizance, the understanding, the competence to make the best decision for themselves, their family, and their future, in addition with a healthcare provider, without the opinions of politicians in the medical room.”

The full Campbell Conversations debate will air June 15 at 6:30 a.m. and June 16 at 6 p.m. and will be available online. The 22nd district includes all of Onondaga and Madison counties and parts of Cortland, Cayuga and Oneida counties.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.