119th Assembly District candidates highlight platforms
Marianne Buttenschon and John Zielinski are running for the New York State Assembly’s 119th District seat. Both answered a Daily Sentinel Q&A for voters to get to know them.
Buttenschon is running on Democratic and Conservative lines, and Zielinski is running as a Republican.
Buttenschon is the incumbent, having served the 119th District since 2019.
NOTE: Each candidate was allotted the same amount of space for their response. Candidate responses were minimally edited by the Daily Sentinel for spelling, formatting, and AP style.
What experiences and qualifications do you have that make you feel like you are the best candidate to represent the 119th Assembly District?
Buttenschon: I’ve effectively represented the 119th Assembly District for four years. I serve on the Agriculture, Banks, Economic Development, Education, Higher Education, and Veteran committees in the Assembly.
As a farmer, college dean, career educator and involved community volunteer, I’ve been deeply embedded in the life of the Mohawk Valley for decades. My educational journey began at MVCC, SUNY IT, SUNY Binghamton and completed my Doctorate in Education at Northeastern University.
I have supported our first responders by providing education, training and resources, because they are always there for us.
I have introduced legislation to give our judges the discretion in setting bail when a defendant is dangerous.
Going to Albany is only part of my job.
My local office responds to and resolves hundreds of constituent questions and issues from throughout the Mohawk Valley and my outreach includes office hours at our local municipalities. Much of my day is spent helping people here, now and where we all live. I would not want it any other way.
Zielinski: I am a business professional, my opponent was a sociology teacher for 30 years
at MVCC before being recruited to run for the Assembly in 2018.
As a Certified Public Accountant for over 40 years and a senior executive level finance and administration professional for over 35 years I have the ability to analyze the worst issues we have in New York after crime, which is excessive out of control spending; excessive regulation which raises taxes, causes inflation and drives residents and businesses out of New York.
One of the issues that New York is facing are changes to the state’s gun laws. What are your thoughts on the Second Amendment and these recent gun control efforts?
Buttenschon: I voted against the constitutionally flawed conceal and carry legislation including outrageous micro stamping. The package that came out of the Special Session was a politically expedient response to a deeper, more complex problem.
The new laws punished experienced, guiltless gun owners while undercutting confidence in our governor and both houses of the state legislature. They invited mountains of time consuming, costly, and debilitating litigation. Rather than solving problems, these infringements on personal liberty and common sense only caused more conflict and division.
Finally, I come from a family of hunters and responsible gun owners. I too am a gun owner, have a pistol permit and a hunting license. I’ll always understand and support responsible sportsmen and gun owner’s rights.
Zielinski: The Second Amendment is part of the U.S. Constitution, period end of story. Radical Governor Kathy Hochul and even more radical Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who are both supported by current Assemblymember Buttenschon, passed a series of 10 separate laws to restrict the rights of New Yorkers to lawfully possess and use firearms and ammunition.
These laws were passed, like spoiled children, to defy the United States Supreme Court ruling that struck down New York’s anti-Second Amendment laws.
Current Assemblymember Buttenschon voted for 6 out-of-10 of these unconstitutional laws. Fortunately, most of these laws were recently struck down by a federal court.
What are your thoughts on reaching across the political aisle to craft legislation?
Buttenschon: My record is proof of my values. In 2022, the Conservative Party Scorecard gave me a rating of 76%, identical to Republican Assemblyman Edward Ra. Mr. Ra is Ranking Minority Member on the most important committee in the Assembly — Ways and Means. He’s point man for the Republicans in all budget debates and was once Floor Leader of his party.
Like me, Mr. Ra runs with Conservative Party support. If 76% qualifies one of the most important Republicans in the Assembly to run with Conservative Party endorsement it should, without question, qualify me. Relationships, not partisanship. Not only do I reach across the aisle separating Democrats from Republicans, I literally sit on the same side of the aisle as the Republicans.
The most important attribute a legislator can possess is the willingness to build relationships with every other legislator regardless of party.
I co-chaired The Mohawk Valley Nine, a coalition of representatives from both parties, both houses and varying ideological beliefs. I’ve been proud to put my name on many bills sponsored by every other Mohawk Valley Assembly and Senate member, most of whom are Republicans. Case in point: Senator Joseph Griffo and I.
Together we sponsored and passed Bianca’s Law. We stood together to oppose the Farm Labor Board’s implementation of new overtime rules, a fight we’ll not abandon.
We wrote legislation to create Oneida County’s Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway. Senator Griffo and I sponsored a bill providing retirement incentives for public employees and worked together to protect corrections officers at the Marcy and Rome facilities. The Senator and I have crafted legislation with the assistance of retired doctors to assist in the recruitment of more medical professionals to our area I don’t judge others. I help others.
Zielinski: I will work with anyone across the aisle to pass legislation as long as it
represents the values, interests, and freedoms of the citizens of the 119th Assembly District.
Buttenschon was endorsed by the Oneida County Conservative Party Executive Committee, not the rank and file Conservative Party Members.
Assemblymember Buttenschon is not a conservative, she is a puppet of radical Governor Kathy Hochul and more radical Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who directed $209,000 to her 2020 election campaign.
Former Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks, who has a long standing personal relationship with the Buttenschon family, steered and lobbied the Executive Committee of the Oneida County Conservative Party to endorse Buttenschon. The NYS Conservative Party would have endorsed me.
They did not have that option because the unconstitutional redistricting voted for by Buttenschon put the 119th Assembly District entirely within Oneida County, giving the Oneida County Conservative Executive Committee the right to endorse under Conservative Party rules. A criminal complaint was filed against certain Oneida County Conservative Party Executive Party members by M. Julie Miller, a Conservative Party member, alleging improprieties in the collection of signatures prior to April 7, to nominate them for Committee seats in the upcoming 2022 – 2024 term.
A Special District Attorney, was appointed to investigate the criminal complaint by Oneida County Court Supervising Judge, Michael Dwyer after Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara recused himself from the investigation. As a result of the investigation, the Oneida County Party Conservative Committee chose not to reorganize, which means that they don’t exist. There will be no further pursuit of the criminal charges; the file was ordered sealed by Judge Dwyer — the proverbial Quid Pro Quo, i.e., do something for me and I’ll do something for you.
Considering the source,
Oneida County voters should ignore the Conservative Party endorsement of Buttenschon, it is tainted.
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