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CAYUGA COUNTY MAN ENTERS CONGRESSIONAL RACE

Former Auburn school board member Jason Lesch seeking GOP nomination to challenge Rep. Dan Maffei

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Jason Lesch

FILE - In this March 28, 2012 photo, then-Auburn School Board member Jason Lesch speaks to Cayuga County's state legislators about gaining more equitable state aid distribution for the school. In an interview with The Citizen, Lesch said he is seeking the Republican nomination in the 24th Congressional District race. 

AUBURN | A Cayuga County man is the seventh Republican running for the GOP nomination in the 24th Congressional District race. 

Jason Lesch, a Sennett resident who served on the Auburn school board for three years, announced his candidacy in an interview with The Citizen Friday. 

"I think that I bring something to the table that other people don't bring," Lesch said. "I think we need people in Washington that have common sense, that are willing to work with people, that want to get things done and advocate for their community.

"We've got a great community here. We have great, smart, intelligent people. We need to promote it more. I've worked with hundreds of businesses and have been able to continue doing that by getting things done." 

Lesch, a graduate of Le Moyne College, is a certified public accountant. He owns CNY Business Advisors, an accounting and financial consulting firm. 

While Lesch has lived in Cayuga County most of his life, his work has taken him outside of the county. He has experiences working with businesses in Onondaga and Oswego counties, which he feels will help him in a race with mostly Onondaga County candidates in an Onondaga County-dominated district. 

Lesch is the latest Republican to enter the race for the party's nomination to face U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse, in November. Syracuse attorney Rick Guy declared his candidacy Friday after exploring a run for several months.

Syracuse economist Janet Burman, former Syracuse mayoral candidate Ian Hunter, former federal prosecutor John Katko, Rome businesswoman Jane Rossi and Manufacturers Association of Central New York president Randy Wolken are also seeking the GOP nomination.

It may be difficult to stand out in a crowded field, but Lesch believes he can do that with his experiences in education and finance. 

"I understand numbers and I think that's important," he said. "I've lived education over three years and I'm working to understand the health care finance environment. I'm living issues right now."

Like other candidates in the race, Lesch said frustration with Washington is another reason why he decided to run. 

"It's either time to do something or not do something," he said. "That's the way I look at it and I looked at that when I was on the school board. Am I going to do something or not?" 

While some Republicans have met with GOP leaders in Washington, Lesch said he won't be heading to the nation's capital to "get approval" to run. He has talked to some local Republican leaders, including Cayuga County Republican Chairwoman Cherl Heary.

Lesch acknowledged that he might be considered an underdog in the race as the only candidate from outside of Onondaga County. But it's not a label that bothers him. 

"I don't mind being the underdog," he said. 

Republican leaders hope to narrow the field down to one candidate, but that could be difficult with seven candidates vying for the nomination. The political calendar also poses a problem for GOP leadership.

With the state's federal primary set for Tuesday, June 24, the first date to pass designating petitions is Tuesday, March 4. Candidates must file petitions between Monday, April 7 and Thursday, April 10.

To appear on the primary ballot, candidates must submit 1,250 valid signatures. 

The 24th Congressional District includes all of Cayuga, Onondaga and Wayne counties, plus the western part of Oswego County. 

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