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Perez Williams says she’s battle-tested, ready to fight

WRVO Public Media
Juanita Perez Williams at her campaign headquarters in Syracuse.

Juanita Perez Williams is running in a primary Tuesday, against designated Democratic candidate Dana Balter for their party’s nomination in the race for the 24th Congressional District. Perez Williams, who lost in the Syracuse mayoral race last year, said she’s ready to support a bold vision for the region’s future.

Perez Williams, who served in the military and was Syracuse’s former corporation counsel, said if elected, she will push for Medicare-for-all, "real" tax relief, equal pay for women and infrastructure jobs. She admitted, she and Balter agree on the big issues and want to hold President Donald Trump accountable.

“It’s about who can actually get the job done,” Williams said. “Who’s going to be able to fight the fight, for what we want to push forward, what legislation we know this country needs and who’s been battle-tested.”

Perez Williams was tested again in this race, when her past social media posts, supporting pro-life advocacy and participating in the “March for Life,” an annual anti-abortion rally, surfaced among party activists. She said despite her personal beliefs, she is pro-choice, a supporter of Planned Parenthood and against any restrictions on abortion.  

“I would never presume that I could speak on behalf of another woman and restrictions, for me, would do that," Perez Williams said. "They shouldn’t be coming from the government; they shouldn’t be coming from politicians.” 

Perez Williams donated $30,000 to her campaign because she said she wants to show people she believes in what she’s doing. She said she is encouraged by a Spectrum News/Siena College poll that has her 13 points ahead of Balter. And on issues like immigration, and the current crisis at the Southern border, Perez Williams, who is Mexican-American and grew up on the border of San Diego and Tijuana, said she knows what it feels like to be humiliated.

“Watching what this country is doing now, what we’re allowing to happen is gut-wrenching," Perez Williams said. "We have got to get people in positions of leadership that won’t tolerate this.”

The Democratic primary is Tuesday and the winner will take on central New York Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) in November. The 24th Congressional District includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western portion of Oswego county.

Read our profile of Perez Williams' opponent, Dana Balter, and listen to their recent debate on the Campbel Conversations. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.