Candidates participate in forum moderated by Liz Benjamin

On Tuesday, three candidates for State Senate, Leslie Danks Burke (58th district), John Mannion (50th district), and Jim Barber (51st district), joined together in an online forum hosted by The Citizen to discuss getting Upstate a seat at the table in Albany.

“Candidates in Conversation” was moderated by Liz Benjamin, former Capital Tonight host and current Managing Director, Albany of Marathon Strategies, and streamed by The Citizen. The topic at hand was decades of ongoing economic decline across the fifteen counties in the respective candidates’ districts, under Republican and Democratic rule alike over recent decades, now exacerbated by fallout from the pandemic, and the road to a full economic recovery for Upstate New York.


RELATED: Watch it here


“I’m in this to fight hard for my region that has been left behind for way too long,” said Danks Burke, who is running to represent five counties in the 58th district. “Across this state sky-high taxes on the middle class subsidize the folks at the tippity-top, and that’s true downstate, upstate, rural, urban, Democrat, Republican, whatever two groups you want to pit against each other. We need thoughtful planning and serious leadership in the room to ensure our region’s needs are met, and I’m ready to get us a long-overdue seat at the table.”

“As a native Central New Yorker, I know we need a voice in Albany. It’s not a good time to have a vacant seat. I am running to represent a large part of Onondaga County and parts of Syracuse, and we need our fair share delivered back to our areas. We have institutions that need help, counties that need help. We need a strong voice in the majority to help form the legislation and conversation,” said Mannion, who seeks to represent large parts of Onondaga and Cayuga Counties.

“When the state pushes the cost of Medicaid onto the counties where the main source of revenue is property tax – which has no relation to income – you have a very unfair system,” said Jim Barber, who is running across 9 counties in Central New York, discussing his plan to level the playing field and alleviate the tax burdens on the middle class. He later added, “I’m running because I thrive on identifying problems, working out solutions and bringing people together so that those solutions benefit everyone. That’s what has always driven me.”