Sen. John Katko (R) addressed the audience at the ninth annual Manlius Political Breakfast held on Sept. 25 at the Cavalry Club. (photo by Lauren Young)
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: Many of the public officials who will take office in January are ones returning to their seats, including Congressman John Katko and New York State Assemblymen Bill Magnarelli and Will Barclay.
While Democratic candidate Dana Balter was close on Katko’s heels — he won by about 6 percent — Barclay and Magnarelli easily held onto their seats in the Nov. 6 election.
According to the Onondaga County Board of Elections, voters turned out in record levels.
Nearly 65 percent of registered voters cast ballots last Tuesday, compared to roughly 50 percent in 2014 and 52 percent in 2010.
The board of elections is still counting absentee and affidavit ballots, and officials are hoping to have final numbers before Thanksgiving.
Read on to see the results of local races and what is next for the candidates.
Magnarelli, a Democrat who was first elected to the assembly in 1998, garnered 73.7 percent of ballots cast, earning 25,039 votes. His Republican opponent, Edward Ott, received 7,320 votes, or 21.6 percent. Conservative candidate Michael Hunter received 4.7 percent, or 1,595 votes.
“Thank you to all who voted yesterday,” Magnarelli said in a statement Nov. 7. “It is with great honor that I represent the people of the 129th Assembly District. I look forward to working with you over the next two years to continue to strengthen our communities.”
Ott told the Messenger he was happy that he and Magnarelli kept their campaigns focused on the issues and avoided the mudslinging that was rampant in other races.
He said he is “decompressing from the rigors of a tremendous campaign trail schedule” but is looking forward to working with Magnarelli to address the issues facing the 129th District, namely bringing economic development to underserved areas, streamlining business regulations and enacting stricter regulations for elder care facilities.
Ott said he plans to run for office again in the future. Previously, he has run for Syracuse commissioner of education in 1991 and 1993 as well as Baldwinsville village trustee in 2002.
“This campaign reignited a fire in me that had been dormant since my last attempt to be a commissioner of education in 1993. I will make another run for office,” he said. “It’s just too early for me what it’ll be for at this time.”
Republican incumbent Barclay defeated Democratic challenger Gail Tosh with a total of 29,593 votes, or 68.9 percent of the vote. Tosh received 31.1 percent, or 13,344 votes.
“Obviously, I’m pleased. I was hoping to win.
I look forward to serving another term,” Barclay said, adding, “I didn’t really know what to expect with the national climate.”
Barclay said that in such a polarized political climate, voters might select local or state candidates based on their party affiliation rather than their record.
“Even congressional races are coattails,” he said.
While the so-called “blue wave” of Democrats seeking office did not crash Barclay’s campaign, this year’s election has given the Democrats a majority in the New York State Senate for the first time since 2010. Democrats control the assembly as well.
“It’s going to be interesting. The big flip was in the state senate,” Barclay said. “A lot of [bills] that were backstopped … have passed the assembly but get stopped in the senate.”
Barclay said new leadership in the senate could
“Maybe with a good change in the senate we can get some good reform in the school aid formula,” he said. “We still need ethics reform, we need unfunded mandate reform. Maybe there’s a hope with a lot of new members that we could get this stuff implemented.”
Tosh said she was grateful for her part in ensuring democracy and offering the constituents of the 120th a choice.
Tosh suggested Barclay set his sights on encouraging STEM education so new and growing businesses will have a prepared workforce. Stimulating job growth, Tosh said, would “do something to get the 120th off the bottom of the charts in socio-economic and health indicators.”
Barclay was first elected to the Assembly in 2002 and was named Deputy Minority Leader in 2012.
He had run unopposed for the last four elections, and he said having an opponent got him back to traditional, door-to-door campaigning. While he is pleased with the results, he said, he is glad it’s over.
“I’m happy to be done with elections. Hopefully, now we can focus on governing and try to do what’s right for New York state and this area,” Barclay said.
Tosh said she was encouraged by voters’ participation this year, but she is tired of the vitriol of the current political climate.
“We had unprecedented numbers voting in this midterm election. It shows the amount of engagement of our citizens, and I’m heartened to see it,” she said. “I’m sad to see the rhetoric that’s mean spirited being tossed about so casually. I don’t like this change in our culture. I’m proud of our campaign of civility.”
While she expressed interest in running for office again in the future, Tosh said she will consult with local Democratic Party leaders to “find the right course.” This was Tosh’s second bid for office; she ran unsuccessfully in 2017 for Lysander Town Board.
“I’ve had two rigorous campaigns in a row. I might be ready to lead someone else’s campaign and learn the ropes there. But I will go where the party thinks I’ll be the best fit moving forward,” she said.
Unlike many of his GOP colleagues across the country, Katko weathered the blue wave, defeating Democratic challenger Dana Balter with 53.1 percent of the vote (129,276 votes). Balter received 114,102 votes, or 46.9 percent of ballots cast.
“Honored and humbled to be re-elected to serve CNY for a third term in Congress,” Katko wrote on Facebook. “Thank you to our incredible supporters and volunteers. We could not have done this without you!
While Balter edged out Katko by about a percent in Onondaga County, it was not enough to carry her to victory for the district, which comprises Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties as well as the western portion of Oswego County.
On the national stage, Democrats earned 222 congressional seats to the Republicans’ 196, and 30 districts swung from red to blue. Republicans retain control of the U.S. Senate, but Democrats now control the House of Representatives.
“I am so proud to be part of the movement all across this country of regular people stepping up to say, ‘We are better than this,’” Balter said in a statement. “I am especially proud to be among the record number of women running for office this year. And even though we didn’t get the result we wanted tonight, I am so proud of what we have done.”
As of press time, the results for the 50th State Senate District — the seat previously held by Sen. John DeFrancisco — still hung in the balance.
While the election night totals put Bob Antonacci, a Republican, ahead by about 2,800 votes, Democratic candidate John Mannion has not conceded and is waiting for affidavit and absentee ballot results.
Election night totals for the race put Mannion at 48.8 percent of the vote with 55,865 votes and Antonacci at 51.2 percent with 58,694 votes.
• Onondaga County Sheriff: Republican incumbent Gene Conway received 91,074 votes (56 percent), defeating Democratic challenger Mike Montes, who received 71,478 votes (44 percent).
• State Supreme Court: The winners were Scott DelConte (a Democrat) and Republicans Gerry Neri, James Murphy and Donald Greenwood.
Ashley M. Casey is a reporter for The Baldwinsville Messenger and The Eagle Star-Review. She graduated from Le Moyne College in 2012 and previously worked for the Scotsman Press.