Mark Walczyk covers broad range of issues in editorial board meeting


Mark Walczyk covers broad range of issues in editorial board meeting

WATERTOWN — Mark C. Walczyk, the Republican challenger in the 116th Assembly District, said he has knocked on about 4,500 doors so far across the so-called River District, and he has found political engagement is fairly localized.“I don’t see a lot of excitement in Jefferson County,” he said. “St. Lawrence County there’s a lot more going on, election-wise.”Mr. Walczyk, who is running against Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, visited the Times office Thursday morning for a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board. Other than his service in the Army Reserve and on the Watertown City Council, Mr. Walczyk has been campaigning full-time over the summer and fall. While his finances still need to be updated with the Board of Elections, he said he had raised about $28,000 since July, plus $11,425.83 transferred from his City Council committee.Mr. Walczyk said he began his race focusing on principles, but as he knocked on those doors he heard several issues come up consistently.“At the top of the list is jobs,” he said. Asked about the fact that a number of employers are having difficulty finding qualified workers, Mr. Walczyk said there needs to be better trade education. He said BOCES could use more support and provide shared services between small school districts.“I think BOCES is in great need of support,” he said.The interview was wide-ranging, covering a number of specific issues across the district. Privatizing the Massena Memorial Hospital? Mr. Walczyk supports it. Comptroller oversight of SUNY bids? He supports that, too. State-wide single payer? He is not sold. How will the Ogdensburg bridge get fixed?“I don’t know yet; that’s my honest answer,” he said.Asked about making abortion rights law in New York state — in a follow-up to a question in Monday’s debate in Canton — Mr. Walczyk said he could not speak to the specific law.“Letting you know I’m pro-life probably sums it up in the most political tribal way, which I think is really unfortunate,” he said. “If you look at the young families, the young ladies that are dealing with really tough situations in their life, it’s very unfortunate that politics plays such a big role at that time.” Mr. Walczyk said he thinks he can be a strong advocate for the district even as a junior member of the minority party in the Assembly.“I’m certainly not a brand new face in Albany,” Mr. Walczyk said. He worked with State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, but said Ms. Jenne’s attempts to paint him as an Albany insider were inaccurate.“For a 10-year incumbent to call me an Albany politician is interesting,” he said.If elected, Mr. Walczyk said, he wants to be more than the representative from Fort Drum, as important as that is.“I think of this district as America’s front yard,” he said, and wants to focus on interaction with Canada.Asked what he would do in the event the Senate loses its one-vote Republican majority, leaving Albany entirely controlled by Democrats and the district without a representative in the majority party, Mr. Walczyk countered with a scenario of his own.“If the Senate maintains or grows the majority, and we get a Republican governor who I consider a friend (candidate Marc Molinaro), I’m in a good position,” he said.But Mr. Walczyk also advocates for local control. Among other issues, he said towns around the district should be able to put up wind turbines if they want to, with some input from Fort Drum.“In general I’m a local-control guy,” he said.As a city councilor, Mr. Walczyk also has a record in local government, and was asked about how he has lived up to his watchdog slogan on the council. He highlighted what he said was an improved budgeting process for the city.“The budgeting on the Watertown City Council has changed,” he said. “We didn’t get into the weeds.”Last year, Mr. Walczyk said, the council finally dug in deep — something he hopes to do in Albany, too.Mr. Walczyk also defended his vote to accept a $561,202 federal grant to hire four firefighters. He commented on that when asked about the possibility that the new employees would cost the city more money when the grant runs out.“In the middle term it’s going to save the taxpayer,” Mr. Walczyk said. “In the long term I’d tend to agree.”He said that the minimum manning clause currently in the firefighter contract, requiring 15 firefighters on duty at all times, means the city is paying overtime every shift.The one subject that Mr. Walczyk seemed to want to avoid was Ms. Jenne loaning a truck she owns to Nathan J. McElhone, a friend, who was arrested while driving the truck and charged with stealing some copper pipes in September.“I’m not running for New York State Assembly to talk about a red pickup truck,” Mr. Walczyk said. “It’s not why she got involved in the Assembly; it’s not why I’m running.”Mr. Walczyk’s allies in Albany at the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee have been attacking Ms. Jenne with loosely fact-checked mailers and a Facebook advertisement. “They want to see me get elected, so I try not to get too upset about it,” Mr. Walczyk said.On Wednesday, Ms. Jenne sent out a news release calling on Mr. Walczyk to denounce the advertisements from RACC. “I never support a negative flyer or support anything that’s inaccurate,” Mr. Walczyk said when asked if he denounced the advertisement.
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News
Mark Walczyk covers broad range of issues in editorial board meeting

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