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Former department head, Daly seeks Cayuga County Legislature District 11 seat

It was a chance meeting at Curley's Restaurant in downtown Auburn that made Elane Daly, a then senior at Niagara University, remain in her hometown. She met her husband Kevin there, and the rest is history, she said.

After getting her bachelor's of science in nursing, the Cayuga County Health Department hired the 22-year-old to be a public health nurse, and Daly found herself driving all over the 72-mile-long county in a government car that had no air conditioning and no radio. She'd prop her boom box up front, she said, to listen to some tunes.

"I guess you could call it my grass roots orientation to the county," she told an audience at the IGNITE forum on Oct. 10. "I was driving around wondering where Ira Station was, and praying I wouldn't get lost in Lake Como. It was an education."

It was an education that brought her up the ranks to the position as director of health and human services for the county, which she was from 1999 to 2014. Now she hopes to take on a new position servicing Cayuga County, as legislator for District 11. Daly is running on the Democrat, Working Families and Auburn First party lines against Republican and Conservative candidate Mike Lesch.

In an interview with The Citizen Oct. 9, Daly said she'd never saw herself stepping into the political spotlight. After Legislator Frank Reginelli announced he would not be seeking re-election, a few people called her up and suggested she run. Having spent 24 years with the Cayuga County Health Department, she's worked under all three past county administrators, she said. She's seen the area through a department-head view, and feels that will be an asset to the body that oversees a $143 million budget.

"I thought, you know, I guess, why not me?" she said when considering running. "I care a lot about the community, and I have a solid county background and experience. I have a lot of involvement in this community, and currently still." 

Besides her work experience, Daly thinks there needs to be more diversity on the Legislature. With only one female legislator currently, Aileen McNabb-Coleman, Daly hopes voters will add at least one more to the entity. She said McNabb-Coleman has encouraged her to run, too. Daly said she believes women can offer a different perspective.

She hopes, if elected, that more stability is brought to the next county administrator. She plans to take a look at what services are mandated, and what are not, looking for ways to make the government run more efficiently and keep tax growth under control. 

After going door-to-door campaigning, she said Owasco Lake and water quality are important issues to constituents. She hopes to bring attention to the lake and take a part in protecting water resources, too. 

Lesch could bring CPA perspective to Cayuga County Legislature District 11

Politics are in Mike Lesch's blood. His great-grandfather, George Train, was Auburn city manager between 1951 and 1955. His grandmother Margaret "Peg" Lesch and his brother, Jason Lesch, have served on the Auburn school district board.

Now, Michael Lesch hopes it's his turn to serve residents in his city and Cayuga County. At 34, he's throwing his hat in the ring for the Cayuga County Legislature District 11 seat running on the Republican and Conservative party lines against Elane Daly. Daly is running on the Democrat, Working Families and Auburn First party lines.

By day, Lesch is a certified public accountant at Cuddy & Ward LLP in downtown. After getting his accounting degree from LeMoyne College in 2005, he chose to come back to his hometown to work and live. He recently married Mallory Donigan, and they hope to raise a family of their own in Auburn.

But Lesch is concerned with how the county's population has declined over the past 20 years from about 84,000 people to 77,000. People aren't coming back to live in the city like he did, and he wants that to change. That, too, is causing a greater tax burden on a smaller number of people, he said.

"I loved growing up in Auburn," he said in an interview with The Citizen on Oct. 4. "I like the feel of a hometown where you know people. You know the people you're working with. You know your neighbors. I can get to the office in five minutes. I can be on the lake in 10 minutes. Auburn just has so much to offer that people don't realize."

Often carrying a binder around with his research, Lesch said he's examined the population numbers of counties surrounding Cayuga. They haven't experienced the same drastic population decline, he noted.

As an accountant, he hopes he can take his problem solving skills to the Legislature and figure out how to optimize opportunities for the area.

"What can we do to distinguish ourselves in Cayuga County, to draw people to move here with their families, to find employment here in Cayuga County, to draw businesses? These are huge concerns for me," he said. "Then obviously being a numbers nerd, (I want to) just to look at the budget and to study it and see where we could create additional efficiencies, save money, or produce a better product for constituents."

If elected, he said, he's most looking forward to listening to the people he would represent. Campaigning was intimidating at first. He said going door-to-door was out of his comfort zone, but he's learned so much as a result. Besides keeping people in the county, Lesch said the water quality of Owasco Lake needs to be addressed.

Having been to a Save Owasco Now! meeting and an Owasco Lake Watershed Management Council meeting, he's working to understand what's already being done to help the watershed, and where more resources should be directed. 

"I have a vested interest in Cayuga County being its best," he said.

Police: Man stabs two people in Auburn after 'minor disagreement'

Police said a "minor disagreement" led to two people being stabbed in Auburn Saturday.

First responders were called just after 1:30 p.m. to the east side of the Mill Street dam for a report that at least three people had been stabbed.

Two victims were found at the scene, police said — one with a stab wound to the chest and another with a serious cut to the hand. A third person was grazed but uninjured.

The suspect in the attacks, Jon Hewitt, of Auburn, was found by officers in the general vicinity of the incident and taken into custody.

Police said that Hewitt had a minor disagreement with someone at the dam Saturday and threatened to stab him. Moments later, police said, Hewitt pulled out a knife, stabbed two people and tried to stab a third.

All of the victims were treated at ACH and released, police said.

Police said that Hewitt, of 38 Burt Ave. Apt. 3, was taken to Auburn Community Hospital for a medical evaluation and then released into the custody of officers. He was then charged with first-degree assault, second-degree assault, second-degree attempted assault and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Hewitt was being held at the Auburn Police Department Saturday night awaiting arraignment.

Investigators are still looking for more information on the incident and ask anyone with details to call detectives at (315) 258-9880 or (315) 253-3231. Police said that callers may remain anonymous.

Schumer: Lower broadband standard would be 'inadequate' for rural NY

A Federal Communications Commission proposal to alter the definition of broadband could have a negative impact on rural New York, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned. 

The agency is considering a plan to lower the broadband standard from 25 to 10 megabits per second for downloads and from 3 to 1 megabit per second for uploads. 

Another change would designate areas as having high-speed internet access if mobile broadband — service through a cellphone data plan, for example — is available. 

Schumer, D-N.Y., said reducing the standards would hinder users' ability to stream videos or download large files. 

"It would be inadequate service in almost every single way," he said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. 

The FCC raised the broadband standards under the Obama administration. New York state has a broadband initiative of its own with the goal of providing access to all New Yorkers by the end of 2018. 

The state's broadband program requires download speeds of 100 megabits per second, but will allow 25 megabits per second in rural areas. 

Instead of lowering the broadband standard, Schumer believes the federal government should be doing more to expand high-speed internet access. 

In a letter to FCC commissioners, he urged them to "reset their proposal."

"Lesser standards would confine rural areas in upstate New York to second-class citizenship and second-class activity, business and personal activity," he said.