112th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT -- Long-time progressive activist Joe Seeman announced a run for state Assembly on Monday, saying he would raise taxes on the rich to deal with the state deficit and the state needs to covert to a clean energy economy.
"Working people are all the same, we all have common interests," Seeman said in announcing his candidacy at the American Legion Hall in Ballston Spa.
Seeman will be taking on incumbent Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, who has represented the district since 2017. Walsh is also expected to seek the Conservative and Independence party endorsements.
Seeman, a member of the Working Families Party, expects to pursue the Working Families and Democratic nominations to run this fall.
"You may know me as a long-time volunteer advocate and organizer in the movement for democracy, peace, justice and the economic interests of average folks," said Seeman, who was cheered on by about 50 fellow progressives as he made his announcement. "For clean renewable energy and protecting our planet. For peace, and to end the endless wars for oil and corporate profits. For healthcare, For the economic interests of the 99%."
On the hot-button issues now before the state Legislature, Seeman said his ideas for closing a projected $6.1 billion state budget deficit focus on closing loopholes that the rich use to avoid or minimize taxes on activities such as stock transfers. Legalizing, regulating and taxing recreational marijuana could also raise money, he said.
While many progressive groups supported the new law that eliminates cash bail for many criminal charges, Seeman acknowledged there may need to be revisions to give judges more discretion to set bail in specific situations. "If someone is a flight risk or a danger to the community (bail should be allowed,), regardless of whether they are rich or poor. ..We can make some changes so judges have more discretion."
Seeman, 59, is a retired software developer for New York state. Since he attended high school in Brooklyn, he has been active in progressive movements in favor of clean energy and fair trade and those against nuclear power and war.
Walsh, an attorney and former member of the Ballston Town Board who was elected in 2016, said she looked forward to the race. "The most important part about our state’s democratic process is giving the voters a choice, and I welcome the challenge and opportunity for a productive dialogue," she said. "I am proud of my record, and of the work I have been able to accomplish both in the Legislature and back home."
She is a strong critic of the bail reform changes, which she noted were done as part of the budget, without hearings. "These so-called 'reforms' are a slap in the face to law enforcement and crime victims -- and in truth, has led the 'progressives' to portray the alleged criminals as the real victims. Many of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, have opposed these measures since day one, she said.
Walsh said she opposes raising taxes to address the budget deficit. "Raising taxes will only continue to drive more people and businesses out of our state, she said. "We should reward those staying here by working to improve their quality of life, not further burdening them with more taxes."
In addition to the town of Glenville in Schenectady County, the 112th district represents the Saratoga County towns of Halfmoon, Clifton Park, Ballston, Charlton, Galway, Milton, Greenfield and Providence. By enrollment, it is heavily weighted toward Republicans. The district has 38,210 registered Republicans and also 29,452 registered Democrats, as well as 26,996 active voters who are not registered in any political party, according to the most recent state Board of Elections figures.