The candidates seeking to represent the northeastern section of Auburn on Cayuga County's policymaking body both can claim county government experience, which they each cited in making their cases to voters during a debate.
After two weeks of forums featuring candidates running for Cayuga County Legislature seats outside Auburn, the first of three involving city districts took place Thursday. The candidates running for District 11, incumbent Democrat Elane Daly and Republican challenger Mario Campanello, both have long work histories in county government.
Daly successfully ran for the seat four years ago after retiring as Cayuga County's health and human services director. Campanello is planning to retire as training coordinator at the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office at the end of this year, and he's hoping to start 2022 as a new county legislator.
The candidates spoke about how their work histories prepared them to be effective legislators.
Campanello referred to his nearly 29 years in the sheriff's office in citing public safety as one of his priorities.
"When elected I'd like to get together with other like-minded legislators from other counties and push back on New York state with some of this bail reform," he said. "It has some pros and cons, but mostly cons. It's not a matter of if or when somebody gets hurt, because as a matter of fact, people are already getting hurt, even right here in our county."
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Daly spoke about her work in public health as being helpful with the county's work in that area. She's served as chair of the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee.
"I think I have been able to bring a lot of experience and background in very complicated issues," she said. "I have insight in both areas and that's only beneficial."
On many issues, Campanello and Daly agreed. Both said they believe Aileen McNabb-Coleman, the Legislature's chairperson, has done great work leading county government the past two years in the absence of a full-time administrator. Both believe improving water quality must be a continued priority for the county, and both praised the Cayuga County Health Department's efforts in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They disagreed on the state mandate ordered by Gov. Kathy Hochul that required health care facility workers become vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to keep their job, with Daly supporting it as an important protection for patients and Campanello considering it government overreach.
One issue that brought out a slight difference between the two candidates is the future structure of Cayuga County government.
Campanello supports the county moving toward an elected executive model, a process that would take multiple years because the county would need to adopt a charter that would require voter approval before the executive office could be created. He said the county's experience with an administrator appointed by the 15-person Legislature was a "disaster."
"Let the people decide who's going to do what, instead of leaving it up to 15 people to decide who's going to do run day-to-day business with the county," he said.
Daly was less enthusiastic about the idea. She said if it's the only way to bring stability to county government, she would support it, but she pointed out that a discussion about an elected executive has not progressed beyond talk for the past two years.
"There is no guarantee that someone who is elected countywide would have the professional skills and leadership to run a $152 million county operation, so we would likely be building a team around that person anyway." Daly said. "I do believe we do need ... some form of stable county professional management."
The District 11 race is one of eight Legislature races for two-year terms. Early voting begins on Oct. 23 and runs through Oct. 31. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Jeremy Boyer can be reached at (315) 282-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CitizenBoyer