Assemblyman Cliff Crouch has made a decision not to seek reelection this fall. On Monday, he announced he was retiring after serving for 25 years, representing the people of the 122nd Assembly District. His term is complete at the end of December 2020.
After Cliff announced his intentions, I announced mine in a press release Monday afternoon - I intend to be the next Assembly representative of the 122nd District. This position has been held by a resident of Chenango County, going back nearly a half-century when Clarence "Rapp" Rappleyea was first elected in 1973. Having an Assemblyman from Chenango County is a legacy I plan to continue.
My political aspirations make the future of this weekly column in doubt. This is partly because of the time needed to run an election campaign successfully, also because it may put The Evening Sun in an awkward position. If this turns out to be the final Wednesday column, I'd like to use it to explain why I'm running for the Assembly.
Regular readers know that I feel our state is heading in the wrong direction. In the last governor's election, Andrew Cuomo was startled when a far-left-leaning actress challenged him in a political primary. Since then, the governor has taken a hard-left turn to appease the new base of the Democratic Party.
Last year, for the first time in a long time, one party was holding all the power in the New York State government, and we have all seen where that has taken us. Emboldened, this year, I predict more craziness will become law.
Here are some of my political views that may not have been explicitly made clear in past columns. First off, I believe in term limits. If elected, I do not intend to make a career as a politician. I've already had a couple of solid careers. Because of this, I won't go to Albany, hoping to make well-placed friends to ensure my reelection - again and again. If a political friendship helps the rural 122nd district, it doesn't matter from which party that help comes.
I believe it is not the weather driving people out of upstate New York, its high taxes, and loss of job opportunities. Policies and regulations in New York State have stifled innovation, investment, and job growth. Banning gas exploration in 2015 was a blow to every large landowner who has trouble paying their taxes. The increase in minimum wages and the always present mission to find ways to pay people not to work are making it increasingly challenging to be a small business owner.
Owners of firearms and hunters have increasingly become ostracized by all sorts of groups. An inanimate object, i.e., a firearm by itself, cannot hurt anyone. Injury or death requires a criminal mind or a reckless user. The state legislature continues to enact laws that only infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens. In contrast, criminals and gang-bangers continue to shoot each other with impunity. There has never been a law written with which the lawless will comply. Further, an example nearby, the Hancock Fire Department’s lawful and useful coyote hunt was canceled after activists harassed and threatened harm if the department continued with their annual fundraiser. No lawful activity should have to endure that type of activity.
Drug addiction is a terrible, indiscriminate curse that hits families of all statuses, races, and religions. At a time when drug dealers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent for poisoning our communities, just the opposite is happening. Selling drugs, even on school grounds, is no longer a jail and bail offense. The bail reform laws have been a colossal mistake. Still, liberal progressives, mostly from New York City, are threatening any elected official with a political challenge if the law is reversed. This can't continue if we are ever going to make any headway against drug addiction and treatment.
Our state budget has an enormous $6.2B dollar gap. Even with that large of a whole, politicians can only talk about raising revenue. Never does anyone speak of cutting programs or spending. This revenue comes from the paychecks of hardworking New Yorkers. Because there are fewer New Yorker's pockets from which to pilfer, now there is talk of legalizing marijuana, gambling, and prostitution to tax the money spent on those vices. A misguided reason if ever there was one.
There are many more topics which need attention, but so little space, though I will offer one more. Our veterans deserve better in so many ways. One such method is NYS Civil Service Law, section 55-C, which allows a veteran with a 10% disability or higher to skip past the civil service test. The state is supposed to fill up to 500 positions with disabled veterans. I have yet to find an agency that is aware of this law. Further, I've only heard of a handful of veterans hired under this program. Like I said, our veterans deserve better.
There is much, much more I could expound upon, but I only have space to hit the wave tops. If this turns out to be the last Wednesday column, please allow me to thank all of you. Some of you with opposing viewpoints should send in a resume to the editor asking to fill this page-4 space so I can critique you each week. I appreciate that I've had this opportunity to help keep this paper vibrant.