West Genesee teacher announces candidacy for state senate seat
By Jason Gabak
With a gathering of friends and family behind him, John Mannion, an advanced placement biology teacher at West Genesee High School, formally announced his candidacy for the New York State Senate 50th district seat Thursday afternoon as a Democratic candidate.
A teacher for 25 years, holding positions at Nottingham and Christian Brothers’ Academy as well as West Genesee, Mannion is a native of Syracuse’s Tipp Hill neighborhood and still calls the west side home, residing in Westvale with his wife and three sons.
In some ways it may have been his upbringing that inspired him to seek a seat in the senate.
Mannion said his father went to work for the railroads, a job he held for more than 40 years before retiring.
“He had a good job, good pay, good benefits,” Mannion said. “One of those benefits was a pension, a tax free pension.”
Eventually however the laws were changed and his father’s pension became taxable.
Mannion said it wasn’t so much the loss of income and security that came with this change as it was something more.
“It was something worse, he became discouraged,” Mannion said.
Mannion said this change represented a broken promise, something he does not believe should happen to workers or the people who could potentially represent.
Along with being an educator, Mannion has taken an active role behind the scenes in education.
Mannion has served as the West Genesee Teachers’ Association president for the past five years, along with being a member of the Onondaga County Teachers’ Association.
He said this has given him experience with negotiation, working on contracts with the district administration, striving to find compromise and reasonable solutions for all parties, he said.
These roles have also taken him to the state capitol where he has spoken on behalf of educators with state leaders on numerous occasions.
“I am not completely outside the political field,” Mannion said. “I’ve worked with the superintendent on contracts and arbitration. We’ve all worked together to achieve a positive outcome.”
Most recently, Mannion took an active role, going door to door to speak with people in his community about a proposition for a state constitutional convention.
Before this, Mannion said there was a majority favoring the idea, but he said after meeting with numerous people, the measure was voted down.
Mannion said this would have been a costly undertaking for New York taxpayers.
The 50th district comprises much of Onondaga County as well as portions of Cayuga County.
The seat has been held by Se. John DeFrancisco, a Republican, who was first elected to office in 1993.
DeFrancisco announced his interest in seeking the governor’s seat in January and said he is unlikely to seek reelection to the senate if he does not secure the nomination for governor.
Along with Mannion and two DeWitt town board members, Joe Chiarenza and Kerin Rigney, also Democrats, are also seeking the party’s nomination.
Democrats will decide on a candidate on April 28.
In addition several Republican candidates have been mentioned as possible contenders for the seat.
Mannion as an educator and as a parent he has an interest in ensuring everyone has access to a free an enriched education.
“We have an education secretary who has been a polarizing figure,” Mannion said.
He said it is important to not only ensure education, but also to encourage the best from the next generation.
‘”I stand with the student of Parkland,” Mannion said. “To criticize these students is abhorrent.”
He said these voices as well as the voices of iron workers, rail road, workers, nurses, teachers and all the others that comprise the tapestry of the district need to be heard and if elected, Mannion said he will seek to represent all those voices.
From teaching to serving as a representative for educators, Mannion said he knows how to communicate effectively and work to find constructive solutions and maintain civil relations with everyone he works with, he said he would bring this philosophy with him to the senate and he will be spending his time reaching out and meeting with the people of the entire district to hear their concerns.