SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Democrat Dana Balter didn’t beat Congressman John Katko, but she achieved a different goal of hers: to get more people involved in politics.
At least three people who helped her 2018 run for congress are candidates themselves in 2019.
Nodesia Hernandez went from being on Balter’s campaign team to being State Senator Rachel May’s Director of Community Outreach. This year, she’s on the ballot herself, challenging Republican Legislator James Rowley for Onondaga County’s 2nd District seat.
Hernandez tells NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan that her time working for Balter inspired her to sun. She says, “Seeing all that great support and excitement and seeing that woman that almost took that seat, it just inspired a lot of us.”
Former Balter communications director and current May communications director, Jessica Bumpus is the Democrat challenging Republican Legislator Deb Cody in Onondaga County’s 5th District.
In the 12th district, Democrat Jennifer Blusk, who Hernandez calls a “super volunteer” for Balter’s campaign, is running against Republican Legislature Chairman Dave Knapp.
Democrats, who only currently hold five of the 17 legislature districts, are running candidates in 10 of the 12 districts controlled by Republicans.
Republicans have controlled the County Executive’s office since Onondaga County’s current government in the early 1960s.
Republicans have controlled the County Legislature since 2011, when the current 17-seat model was established.
2011 was also the last time Democrats had as many candidates challenging Republicans as they do this year.
In the 2nd district, where Hernadez is challenging Rowley, she claims to be the first Democrat on the ballot since 2009.
She says, “In life, we have to have fair choices. We have to have a fair democracy.”
That’s likely the last thing she’ll agree on with Onondaga County’s Republican Chairman Tom Dadey.
Dadey says, “It’s always good to have choices. It’s good to have choices and it’s good to see how out of touch the other side is and how rational the Republicans are at the local level.”
Dadey, an early supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump, argues that local Republicans aren’t as extreme as some of their Democratic challengers.
Dadey says, “Dana Balter is a fringe socialist candidate, as well. As is Rachel May and her staff people. They tend to hire staff people that agree with their philosophy and their philosophy, this radical, socialist agenda, is out of touch of the mainstream.”
“Perhaps if the Republican chair spent a little more time talking to the hardworking families of Onondaga County instead of resorting to intellectually lazy name-calling, he would understand that what we are fighting for is what the people need: affordable healthcare, better schools, living wage jobs, safe neighborhoods, and a government that works for them and not special interests,” says Democrat Dana Balter, who is challenging Rep. John Katko for a second time in 2020.
Balter says, “I’m proud to have folks who were part of my campaign team running for office all across our district this year. Our campaign has always been about more than just one election. We built–and continue to build–a movement for change in our communities.“
State Senator Rachel May says, “I am excited to see so many Democrats, especially women, putting themselves forward this year in elections for County Legislature. The fact that Dana and I both won last year in Onondaga County shows that the voters here are eager for new choices and voices in government.”
“I am disappointed that Chairman Dadey feels the need to stoop to name calling. Throughout the district and in Albany, people continuously compliment my staff for their hard work, thoughtfulness, and understanding of the issues. The voters of Onondaga County would be fortunate to have Nodesia and Jessica representing them in the Legislature,” says May.
Onondaga County Democratic Party Chairwoman Pamela Hunter did not respond to NewsChannel 9.