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Katko, Maffei tackle heroin, synthetic drug use in different ways

Gino Geruntino
Republican congressional candidate John Katko stands with members of the Oswego County Legislature, Assemblyman Will Barclay, and Teresa Woolson, whose son died after using synthetic marijuana.

Both candidates running to represent the 24th Congressional District want to prevent heroin and synthetic drug use in New York, but have different ways of doing it.

Republican candidate John Katko says he has a twofold approach to address the issue.

"It's targeted enforcement, beefed up targeted enforcement about the heroin and synthetic drug problem, through the enhancement of task forces," Katko said. "So that's basically what this plan is about."

Katko proposes to increase law enforcement funding and manpower, and expand treatment options.

"Local agencies on all levels are so cash-strapped that it's hard for them to prioritize, it's hard for them to adequately do the job," Katko explained. "But if you can have access to the federal National Drug Control Policy task force dollars, then that would be a good thing."

Incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei agrees more needs to be done to combat drug use, but improvements should be made throughout society to provide more opportunities for people.

"Where I can make a difference as a congressman is to try to get that, everything we can do to improve the economy while at the same time doing these things that will combat drug use," Maffei explained. "But it's not going to just happen with the conventional programs, even if we expand those."

Maffei says the U.S. should take a different approach by boosting the economy to help fund drug initiatives.

"I think the best thing that we can do is continue to focus on making the economy better," Maffei said. "Then there will be more resources for the kind of drug treatment programs, for health departments and first responders."

Both candidates say they believe in expanding treatment options for those with heroin addictions. Katko's approach includes an expansion of methadone treatment centers for people who are in danger of relapsing.

The 24th Congressional District contains all or part of four counties, including Oswego, Cayuga, Wayne and Onondaga Counties.