The dominance of state government by the Democratic Party has its disadvantages for north country residents.
Most state Democratic lawmakers represent communities in and around New York City. The progressive groupthink common in this metropolitan area has now permeated the State Capitol.
From micromanaging business operations to excessive gun control measures and unrealistic criminal justice reforms, much of the legislative agenda in Albany comes directly from the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” (as former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean used to say). Coupled with the practice of prioritizing bills proposed by Democratic legislators, alternative ideas don’t get much of a hearing these days.
When the Independent Democratic Conference exerted influence in the state Senate, the GOP had a shot at keeping progressive overreaches in check. Members of the IDC often caucused with Senate Republicans, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo took advantage of this to maintain some ideological balance.
But IDC members disbanded in 2018, giving Democrats complete control of the state Legislature. The majority political party can easily afford to pay no mind to measures that don’t advance its political aspirations.
In the state Assembly, for example, Speaker Carl Heastie reigns supreme. He frequently ignores his Republican colleagues by preventing their bills from seeing the light of day.
This is wrong, and it needs to stop. Not everyone in the state holds the same beliefs as do progressive NYC Democrats, and the people we elect deserve to express the concerns we’ve articulated.
State Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, has reflected the values held by his many of constituents in Northern New York. He’s done a commendable job in his first term, and we endorse him for re-election this year in the 116th District.
It’s tempting to consider that we’d be better served by sending a member of the majority party to Albany. This way, our representative would have more influence with the Assembly’s Democratic leadership.
However, this would do nothing but affirm this dreadful practice. Such behavior on the part of legislators needs to be challenged and overcome, not copied. Bills should be taken up based on their merit, not simply whether the letter “D” or “R” appears before the sponsor’s name.
Alex V. Hammond is challenging Mr. Walczyk for this state Assembly seat as a Democrat. He has earned a solid reputation as the town supervisor in Waddington, and he has impressive credentials. We encourage him to remain active in local politics.
These campaigns for the 116th District are a few notches above races for other elective positions in the north country. The rivals have primarily focused on their accomplishments in office and their ideas for the future.
Mr. Walczyk has persuaded us that he’s suited for this uphill battle with Democrats in the Assembly. He’s demonstrated a firm command of what’s most important to his constituents. He’s exhibited a positive attitude even though the ruling faction wants to forget that Republicans exist.
While we believe that Mr. Hammond has potential in state government down the road, increasing the single-party rule in Albany is not wise at this time. Republicans may have trouble getting their bills out of committee. But they’re determined to get the message out about what we want, and this has tremendous value.
We’re not certain a Democratic assemblyman could push back against the majority regime any better than can a Republican representative. Mr. Walczyk has shown his commitment to keeping up the fight on our behalf, and voters should return him to Albany for a second term.