Going by the enrollment numbers alone, the 113th Assembly District in Saratoga and Washington counties ought to be a Republican Party stronghold.
But for the past two years, the district has been represented in Albany by a Democrat, Carrie Woerner, of Round Lake.
The Republican Party this year is fighting hard to win it back on Nov. 8, with small-business owner Christopher Boyark of Mechanicville running an active campaign that targets corruption in Albany.
Woerner won the open seat in 2014, after being defeated in 2012. She campaigned nearly constantly during the intervening two years.
Boyark has campaigned hard this year, but Woerner has raised far more money, as state Democrats look to hang onto one of their few rural upstate seats. Overall, the Democrats hold a wide majority in the Assembly.
ENDORSEMENTS: Democrats, Independence
EDUCATION: BA Carnegie Mellon University, MBA Santa Clara University
OCCUPATION: Assemblywoman, former manager of computer software company. Former Round Lake village trustee.
Boyark, who had to defeat Gerard Moser in a September primary to win the Republican nomination, had a balance of $11,455 in his campaign account going into the general election, according to a state Board of Elections filing.
However, Boyark has benefited, at least indirectly, from political action committee attack ads targeting Woerner. She has said those ads come from wealthy contributors who want more New York tax breaks.
“Most of their top donors don’t even live in New York,” Woerner said at a recent press conference about the outside spending. “I go to bat for the hardworking families of our region, many of whom are struggling just to get by.”
Woerner, who has invested heavily in television advertising, has spent more than $267,000 to date and has received large contributions, including $221,000 transferred from the state Democratic campaign committee.
Boyark has criticized Woerner as being too close to corrupt politicians in Albany, including former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, whom Woerner supported for re-election in 2015 when she was a member of the Assembly majority. Silver, under investigation at the time, has since been convicted on federal corruption charges, and Woerner has called for reforms.
“Doing the right thing doesn’t mean waiting until it’s politically expedient to do so or when public pressure is so overwhelming,” Boyark said.
Woerner said she has voted for pension forfeiture bills as a measure against corruption but also emphasized her work on behalf of the district.
“In two years, I have built a record of getting things done for the communities I serve,” she said at a League of Women Voters forum in Stillwater. “I have a record of crossing party lines to get things done. We’re doing practical policymaking that provides real solutions.”
Boyark, who grew up in Stillwater and now lives in Mechanicville, emphasized his local roots and his opposition to state government regulations in small business.
“Knowing what it’s like to run a business in the harsh climate of New York, I think I am the best voice to serve the district,” he said.
ENDORSEMENTS: Republican, Conservative, Reform
EDUCATION: Stillwater High School, American Military University
OCCUPATION: Jewelry store manager, tavern owner, Air Force veteran.
FAMILY: Divorced, one daughter
Boyark, an Air Force veteran, owns a bar in Malta as well as managing a jewelry store.
Regarding thoroughbred racing in Saratoga Springs, Woerner said she worked hard this year with state Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, to come up with a bill to return the New York Racing Association to private control.
NYRA, which operates Saratoga Race Course, has been under state supervision for the past four years, following financial losses and a mismanagement scandal.
The NYRA bill, which would have increased private input on the association’s board while still keeping some state representation, passed both houses of the Legislature but was blocked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who extended state control of NYRA into 2017.
Boyark said government shouldn’t be involved in running NYRA at all.
“Government involvement of any kind seems to turn out bad with this sort of thing,” he said. “The state should set NYRA free, and NYRA should be able to flourish as an economic driver for Saratoga Springs.”
Boyark cited high taxes and government regulations as major impediments to upstate job growth, though he also said more needs to be spent on infrastructure.
“We can work against the unfunded mandates that cripple some of these communities,” he said.
Regarding the economy, Woerner emphasized that the state needs to address infrastructure issues: Roads, bridges and a deficit of electric power and natural gas in the region, if it wants to attract more high-tech industries like the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant.
“I’m the person you want fighting for you because I know how to get things done,” Woerner told the League of Women Voters audience.
The 113th Assembly District stretches from Saratoga Springs to the Vermont border, including eastern Saratoga County and a large part of Washington County.
The district has 35,844 registered Republicans and 25,926 registered Democrats, according to the state Board of Elections. There are 20,934 voters enrolled in no party.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: News, Schenectady County