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Democrat challenges Barclay to rematch in CNY Assembly race

Payne Horning
WRVO Public Media
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) and Democratic Assembly candidate Gail Tosh.

Republican state Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, who represents most of Oswego County, is being challenged again by Democrat Gail Tosh in the November election. Barclay defeated Tosh handily in the 2018 election. But New York State is facing new challenges, including a $14-15 billion budget deficit.

The deficit started from an overrun of Medicaid costs and was made worse by the economic shutdown from COVID-19. Barclay said the state should slow the growth of spending, reduce funding for wealthy school districts and end the public financing of political campaigns and tax credits for the film industry.

“Those alone won’t balance the budget, but it’s a good start,” Barclay said.

He’s not in favor of raising taxes on the rich.

“We just can’t keep saying we have a budget shortfall, we ought to raise taxes,” Barclay said. “Because our taxes are high, we’re seeing people flee the state.”

His challenger, Gail Tosh, does support taxing the rich, single-payer health care and bail reform.

“Bail, in general, is racist and classist and has to be changed,” Tosh said.

The state ended cash bail for all misdemeanors and most nonviolent felonies at the beginning of the year. But some of those measures have since been rolled back. Barclay, an attorney and businessman, who was first elected to the Assembly in 2002, said he’s glad some crimes are now once again eligible for judges to set cash bail. He said judicial discretion is critical.

“We don’t necessarily need to roll it all back, but I would require judicial discretion in there, particularly for when it comes to being a danger within the community,” Barclay said. 

Tosh is a chicken farmer and she supports legalizing recreational marijuana, and was surprised to learn it’s a top issue in the district.

“If we look at it from an economic standpoint, we have the farmland to start producing the cannabis that would be used throughout the state on a recreational level,” Tosh said. “We could put family farmers back to work.”

Barclay doesn’t support recreational marijuana or single-payer health care, although he is in favor of expanding health coverage for the uninsured. The 120th Assembly District covers most of Oswego County and small parts of Onondaga and Jefferson 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.