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Sarah Klee Hood one of two Democrats in Tuesday's primary for CNY congressional seat

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The 22nd congressional district race is expected to be one of the most watched in the country this fall, as Republican Brandon Williams faces his first challenge as an incumbent. One of the Democrats hoping to take him on is DeWitt Town Councilor, Sarah Klee Hood.

Klee Hood has worn many hats, as an Air Force operations officer, environmental expert in the private sector, mother, and DeWitt Town Councilor. Now, she hopes to add “member of Congress” to that list.

"For too long, we have been hyper-focused on the big cities,” she said. “I would love to turn the attention back to our smaller communities to give them the resources, the programming, the services that they need to grow jobs, to grow their local economy, and really start focusing on the fabric of the U.S.”

During her time as a local politician, Klee Hood said she was inspired to run for federal office.

"Through this journey of a local town elected, I've realized that federal policy is not the best that it could be,” Klee Hood said. “It's usually outdated. It's created with barriers, or it's designed by folks who simply don't know how folks like us in central New York live our lives."

Klee Hood said one of her top priorities is using federal policy to grow the local economy, including addressing the area’s housing crisis and ensuring central New Yorkers benefit from Micron’s investment.

"I will be there watching to make sure that Micron is fulfilling their promises that they made when the ink was still wet, upholding those environmental standards, ensuring that central New Yorkers aren't carrying either the financial or tax burden for the infrastructure that we're going to need."

Klee Hood said as a woman with two young daughters, she is also passionate about protecting abortion rights.

"I think we're missing the mark when we only acknowledge a piece of the pie that is access to safe and legal abortions,” she said. “Yes, that is absolutely what we should be fighting for. We must codify Roe. It's also about recognizing and respecting women enough to allow them to make their own decisions in the doctor's office."

On the international front, Klee Hood points to her experience with the military, where she said she acted as a national security advisor for matters pertaining to Russia. She calls Russia a “bad actor,” but said she supports using diplomatic efforts first.

"Sending our U.S. troops, our greatest asset and our greatest resource to our great nation, sending them to war should always be our last call,” Klee Hood said. “So, there is absolutely an opportunity to continue what we're doing in terms of supporting our allies, while ensuring that our troops remain out of harm's way."

She said she believes better federal funding can help alleviate the immigration issues stemming from the U.S. southern border.

"Let's actually put the money where our mouth is. Let's fund the system as it was designed to, and we won't be seeing backlogs of folks held at the border. It will be a process as it was designed,” she said.

While Klee Hood’s views on many issues do not differ dramatically from her opponent, she has taken aim at Mannion’s fundraising efforts, claiming he accepted money from special interests. Mannion has called Klee Hood’s claims inflated and said those contributions make up less than .1 percent of his donations.

"My average contribution is $34,” said Klee Hood. “I'm working very hard, we're doing very well, but at the end of the day, I never want a community member here in NY 22 to question where my votes are coming from."

While Klee Hood said she has events planned through primary day, her main focus will be knocking on doors and talking to people in the district.

Early voting is underway. Primary day is June 25.

See our story on John Mannion here


Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.