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Slater, Villarreal face off in Republican primary for CNY State Senate seat

Caleb Slater and Fanny Villarreal
Slater/Villarreal campaigns
Caleb Slater and Fanny Villarreal

Two Republicans are vying for the chance to face off against incumbent Democratic State Sen. Rachel May in November.

Caleb Slater and Fanny Villarreal are running in the Republican primary for Senate District 48.

Slater is self-employed and said he became politically motivated while attending Ithaca College. He was president of the Ithaca College Republicans and worked on campaigns. Now, he said he's running for Senate because he's upset with the way the state is running. A key issue for him is energy.

"We're one of the top states in the country when it comes to energy efficiency per capita and [we can't] try to completely dismantle our system without having a proper system in place for how the energy grid and how our system is going to operate," Slater said. "So I am against the Green New Deal agenda.”

Villarreal is the executive director of the YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County and is on the board of Home Headquarters. She moved to Syracuse from Peru in the 1990s and said one reason she's running for office is because she is disappointed with how the state has handled the migrant crisis.

"I do believe that people need opportunities, of course, but let's do it in the right way," Villarreal said. "Why we didn't take care of the people that been here for 20 years, 30 years and they still don't have their documents? Why we didn't take care of them first and then we can open the doors for other ones to come according to the needs that we have."

Both candidates expressed concerns about New York's cash bail system and said tackling gun violence means targeting the black market for guns.

On Micron, Slater said he's skeptical the project will come to the area to the degree the semiconductor says it will, saying other companies have left once subsidies run out.

"If you really want to bring industry to central New York and to New York state, you need to lower the spending, which will lower the taxes," Slater said. "You need to cut the unfunded mandates, cut the regulations, get the government out of the way."

On housing, Villarreal said she wants to focus on an educational aspect, saying she learned through Home Headquarters classes how to be a homeowner and now owns a two-family house, living in one side and renting the other.

"It's great opportunity," Villarreal said. "That's what we're trying to teach everybody, invest your money, invest your money, get a job, work, invest your money, buy a house.”

The 48th Senate District covers a portion of Onondaga County and Cayuga County and includes the cities of Syracuse, Auburn, Baldwinsville and Skaneateles. Only registered Republicans in the district can vote in this primary. Early voting in the June 25 race runs through Sunday.

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.