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Barclay facing first Assembly challenger in 10 years

Payne Horning
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

Democrat Gail Tosh has worked a variety of jobs during her lifetime - a language consultant for video games, English teacher in eastern Europe and currrently the owner of a small chicken farm in Baldwinsville. But she's never held elected office.

Now is the time for change though, she says, not only for her but for all residents of the 120th Assembly District, which covers parts of Oswego, Onondaga and Jefferson counties.

Credit Payne Horning / WRVO News
Democratic Assembly candidate Gail Tosh

"Something’s wrong with our economy," Tosh said. "We need to make some changes. People are desperate for advancement. They want freedom, they want opportunity, they want security and it’s obvious just from driving through the area that they’re just not getting it and we need to put up a candidate that can offer some hope, and I think I’ve got that. I’ve got some ideas."

Tosh is running against Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), who was first elected to the New York State Legislature in 2002. If elected, Tosh says she would vote in favor of the New York Health Act, a bill to create a single-payer health care system, as a way to reduce living expenses for state residents. And she would also push the state to invest in the area's infrastructure and renewable energy resources.

"I know a lot of people’s children are going away to college and they’re getting degrees in renewable and alternative energy and they’re not able to come home and work because the jobs aren’t here," Tosh said. "I think we can change that."

But Barclay says more state spending is not the answer. 

"What I have been doing in the Assembly is push back against what I think is ill-conceived pieces of legislation and policy that’s essentially increased the cost of doing business, taxed people out of their homes and has caused a lot of our population to leave," Barclay said. "Not only have I sponsored legislation to push back against that, I’ve also fought against numerous budgets and legislation that causes our taxes and cost of doing business to go up."

Barclay says he's been a good representative for the region, advocating on behalf of the region's once-struggling nuclear power plants that New York state eventually bailed out, and getting state money for residents along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River who experienced devastating flooding last year.

Tosh may have an uphill battle in her bid to unseat Barclay. Republicans hold a nearly two-to-one enrollment advantage over Democrats in the district.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.