Scott Comegys first thought about getting involved in politics when his oldest child turned 18.
Once his daughter, Saige Comegys, became 18 a couple years ago, Comegys focused in on his children living in a world where they could thrive and be confident, instead of being in an environment of "political and world turmoil," he said. He decided to run for office to try to ensure that world he wants to see becomes a reality.
Comegys, D-Palmyra, and Brian Manktelow, R-Lyons, are running for the 130th Assembly District, which includes ten Cayuga County towns, some of Oswego County and all of Wayne County. Assemblyman Bob Oaks, R-Macedon, announced earlier this year he would leave his post after serving since 1992. Comegys previously pursued the Democratic ticket for the 24th District seat in the House of Representatives earlier this year before Dana Balter was picked as the party's nominee.
Comegys, who has owned and operated an alpaca farm since 2012, admitted that he used to complain about the state of the world on social media. The more he thought about solutions to issues, though, "the more I wanted to do something about it," he said.
He said he wants to lead by example. It has been important to him to run a campaign without attacking others and avoid the fighting he feels has been "the hallmark of our political society for so long." He feels people are increasingly divided instead of working on the same side to tackle problems together. Instead of lashing out, Comegys said, he points out the benefits of other ideas.
He said his direct political work is limited but he touted his leadership skills and ideas for a better tomorrow. Working in careers as varied as a farmer to being a grocery store clerk to working as the field manager for the University of Rochester helped Comegys work with and lead a variety of people, he said. His work with the university from 2004 to 2012 meant dealing with various committees involved in subjects such as emergencies, construction projects and special events and interacting with various people with different goals in mind.
"You have to lead. You have to have the vision for what you want to do, and you have to convince them that your vision is the right way for them to go," he said.
Comegys, who was born in Delaware but moved with his family to Rochester at a young age, said people often ask about the alpacas, and he doesn't mind talking about it. At one point while working with a garage door company, he was at a job where the neighboring farm had alpacas. He was immediately taken with them and did research, finding a sustainability component to the animals. Their fleece is a sustainable resource for fiber, they tend to live long lives and are highly adaptable, he said.
Sound environmental practices are close to his heart, as he said it is vital to look at agricultural opportunities, ecotourism and alternative energy. He touted the idea of job creation from environmentally practices, like infrastructure building, manufacturing and alternative energy development.
Universal accessible health care is one of Comegys' biggest priorities, as he believes it would bring people closer to prosperity. Single-payer health care can encourage entrepreneurial work while saving employers money now spent providing health care benefits so they can pay higher wages to employees, he said. It could also provide a better collective bargaining opportunity in dealing with pharmaceutical companies.
Education is also a critical issue in Comegys' eyes. He said adult education and job training is important along with elementary and high school, as he said adults transition from different careers as the economy shifts.
For Cayuga County, he wants to address the blue-green algae blooms of Owasco Lake. He feels it is vital to communicate with and work with farmers and examine more sustainable methods for them to practice. He sees a chance to harness ecotourism through areas such as the Erie Canal, he said, while adding he wants to bring more attention to the "historical charm" of some Cayuga County towns.
Comegys, who also appears on the Working Families Party ballot line, said he wants all people to be prosperous while progressing on issues.
"Change is frightening, and yet change is necessary," he said.
Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.
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