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In open CNY Assembly race, Lemondes, Carabajal share their views on budget deficit, bail reform

Carabajal and Lemondes campaigns
Democrat Dia Carabajal and Republican John Lemondes.

Two candidates are running for an open central New York Assembly seat, after Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch announced he was retiring after two decades in office. Republican John Lemondes and Democrat Dia Carabajal share some similar views, but also have different visions to fix the state, which is facing a fiscal crisis and uptick in crime. 

The state’s $14 billion deficit, started with rising costs and spending on Medicaid and ballooned during the economic shutdown due to COVID-19. Democrats in New York have criticized Republicans in the U.S. Senate for refusing to send financial help. Lemondes, a farmer and former Army military officer, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the federal government should give some money to New York but…

“As a bailout, no," Lemondes said. "I don’t think the federal government should reward mismanagement.”

Lemondes said there are long-term, structural problems with the state, and taxing the ultra-rich, another Democrat proposal, he said, is not the answer.

“I’m all about everybody paying their fair share," Lemondes said. "But, if you try to levy a policy on a specific group, there is a point where you force them away. I think that’s already happening.”

Carabajal, a community college math professor, who’s served on the Auburn City Council and school board, said the federal government needs to help the state.

“And I don’t even want to call it aid anymore," Carabajal said. "It is getting New York State tax dollars that we pay into the federal government, back to us in a crisis situation.”

She does support taxing the ultra-wealthy and closing the loopholes that benefit them.

New York State eliminated cash bail for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felonies this year, then rolled back some of those changes over the summer. Lemondes said bail reform needs to start over again, calling it “crazy,” saying elected officials have been derelict in their duty to back law enforcement. Carabajal said she opposes the manner in which bail reform happened, tucked away into the budget, but…

“The reality is cash bail needed some attention," Carabajal said. "It is a true social justice issue that needs attention.”

The 126th Assembly District covers parts of Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland and Chenango counties.

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.