Biographical info (age, address, family, education, employer):
I am 35 years old. I was raised in Western New York and moved to Clay after graduating from college to take a job with Lockheed Martin on Electronics Parkway. I worked in Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development group until 2000 when I left to take another position with Syracuse Research Corporation (SRC). I am currently employed with SRC as the manager of business development, where I am responsible for developing new business for the company and seeking new ways to market our current line of products and capabilities. In addition to my experience as an engineer, I am also the deputy chairman of the town of Clay’s planning board.
My formal education consists of a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from SUNY Buffalo, a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Syracuse University and a master’s in business administration from Syracuse University.
My wife and I have been married for 11 years and have three young daughters, two of whom attend Elmcrest Elementary School. Our youngest daughter will start school next year.
Why are you running for county legislator?
I was on Bernie Kraft’s campaign team for several of his past elections. When he announced that he wasn’t going to be able to run this year, I was encouraged by Bernie and others to succeed him. My education and professional experience with business development, my years of experience in town affairs and my vision for a consolidated, more efficient government will help prevent another budget crisis like we are currently experiencing in county government.
What are the major issues in the second district that you would address, and how would you address them?
My number one priority in the legislature will be to reduce the tax burden on property owners. I will do this by carefully examining how the county is spending the taxpayer’s money and find ways to reduce it.
Over the past three weeks, I have been going door to door to introduce myself to second district constituents and one message that I hear repeatedly is that their property taxes are too high. While everyone agrees that certain services are absolutely essential, most of the people that I speak with feel that their tax money is being wasted on unnecessary programs and by programs that aren’t being run as efficiently as they could be. My job will be to act as their advocate and make sure that their taxes are being spent as wisely as possible.
What are the major issues in the county? How would you address those?
The biggest issue facing Onondaga County is that the high county tax burden is causing businesses to leave and creating a lack of good job opportunities. There needs to be better job opportunities for young people just joining the job market to prevent them from leaving the area as well as better job opportunities for older citizens so they can raise families, buy homes and eventually retire here. Today, Onondaga County is facing a budget gap of almost $50 million. This is caused in part due to decreased sales tax revenue. To close this budget gap, the county will be forced to raise taxes and layoff employees. This will force even more businesses out of the area, and cause more people to lose their job. This “shrinking pie” effect will cause fewer and fewer people to share the expense of government and cause this cycle to continue.
Local politicians have been saying that we need to do what we can to keep businesses here, but for too long they have been trying to use government as the cure. With only a few exceptions, it hasn’t worked. It is time to start approaching this problem differently. We need to force government out of the way so business can grow with smaller tax bills, less intrusion, and less red tape. My goal is to look carefully at each of the county programs and decide which ones can be consolidated internally as well as determine if any of them can be consolidated with the city of Syracuse or any of the local towns or villages. I would also like to look at the possibility of having private businesses provide some of the non-essential government services.
Why are you the best candidate for the job?
I am the best candidate for this job because I am the only true fiscal conservative in this race, the only candidate with REAL experience working in government, the only candidate who has proven he can attract business in Onondaga County, the only candidate with a major support base within the town of Clay and the only candidate with a realistic plan for preventing another huge budget gap in the future and for getting Central New York back on track for job growth. For more information on my candidacy, please refer to my Web site: johndougherty.org.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.