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Coverage from WRVO Public Media on the 2015 election including: races in Syracuse and other parts of central New York, the Southern Tier, Watertown and the North Country, and more.Listen to WRVO online, or catch up on regional political news and more by following the WRVO news department on Twitter.

Three Democrats face off in 128th Assembly District primary


There will be a new representative in the 128th Assembly District in central New York next year. And that lawmaker could be determined in Thursday's primary election.

The 128th has been gerrymandered into a far-flung district that serves Syracuse's inner city, the university area, the Onondaga Nation, farm country in southern Onondaga County, as well as suburban Dewitt, Mattydale and Liverpool. It’s been reliably represented by Democrats for years, most recently by Assemblyman Sam Roberts, who left for a job in the Cuomo administration.  

Democrats have a big edge registration-wise, so it’s expected that Roberts’ shoes will be filled by another Democrat. There are three candidates. All cite education, jobs, infrastructure and crime as issues the district faces.  

Syracuse Common Councilor Pam Hunter goes into the race with the party endorsement.

"I am practical. I am progressive. I like to be able to identify a problem and work towards solutions. I’m not a sound bite person. I like to research. I like to make sure what I’m voting on will positively affect my constituency. It’s not personal,” said Hunter.

Also hoping to make the jump from Common Council to State Assembly is Jean Kessner.

"My M.O. is that I go out and listen. I like people. I like to go out and hear what they’re concerned about. I like to hear their thoughts and stuff. I’m the first to admit, as you would be, that I don’t know all the answers. You got any good ideas?” said Kessner.

Former Onondaga County Legislator David Stott is the only suburban Democrat hoping to win the race.

"This is not a part-time job. You need to be out there every time, every day -- talking to someone about something that will better this community. And that’s what I’m going to do. This is not an ivory tower position that some people might take and look down at the people. You need to be in the neighborhoods,” Stott said.

The three candidates also have different approaches on the high-priority issue of education.

Hunter is the mother of a high school student, which she says gives her insights into issues an urban district faces.

“I hear some of the socio-economic things that are happening, whether it’s something so simple as needing food, to greater things;  being ready for college and being able to pass regents,” said Hunter.

Kessner’s focus is on spreading out state education dollars evenly.

“If you live in a very rich place, then wonderful for you, your kids probably have exactly the money they need to get the education they deserve, and all children deserve that education,” said Kessner.

Stott suggests education can be improved with a soft reset of the Common Core curriculum.

“Because parents and students and teachers are frustrated. We need that federal money, but it was implemented incorrectly and we need to go back and look at it,” said Stott.

Whoever wins will face Republican John Sharon in the general election.

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.