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In CNY Assembly race, Hunter has ‘unfinished business’, GOP challenger ‘backs the blue’

Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter Facebook, Jackson for the People website
Republican Stephanie Jackson and Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter.

Syracuse-area Democratic Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter said she’s running for reelection because she has unfinished business. Her challenger, Republican Stephanie Jackson, is a defender of the Second Amendment, school choice and is against vaccine mandates.

Hunter is waiting on the governor to sign legislation she sponsored, that allows those who have had their driver’s license suspended because of unpaid fines and fees, to be on an installment payment plan, so they can continue to drive.

“For some people, $200 with these outstanding fines and fees might not seem like a lot, but for someone who is impoverished, they can’t pay,” Hunter said.

New York state is facing a $14.5 billion budget deficit. Hunter said legislators have not yet seen how the money from the budget is being spent this year. She expects after Election Day, the Assembly speaker will call members together to have a conversation about the budget. It comes at a time, she said, when there are long lines at food banks, people are calling about unemployment, evictions are happening and nonprofits are waiting on state funding.

“We need to identify where the money is, how it’s been spent and how much do we have left over to pay for all of the things that are very important,” Hunter said.

She said raising taxes on the rich to increase revenue is something that should have already happened.

“And now, unfortunately, it’s going to look like a money grab,” Hunter said.

Stephanie Jackson, Hunter’s challenger, did not respond to an interview request in time for this publication. In a Syracuse.com article, she said she’s against raising taxes on the rich, but does call on corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. She’s a critic of bail reform and a supporter of law enforcement. But she also called for ending qualified immunity, which can shield police officers accused of wrongdoing from civil lawsuits. On her campaign website, Jackson supports school choice, which could send taxpayer dollars to public, private, charter and home schools. She’s also against “Medicare for All.”

The 128th Assembly district includes parts of the city of Syracuse and the surrounding towns and villages.

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.