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NY-22 congressional primary ballot: Democrat Chol Majok wants to take aim at poverty

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Democratic Congressional candidate Chol Majok at the WAER studios.

Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok says he’s running to represent New York's 22nd Congressional district to add more people to the political process.

Majok, a Democrat, said the newly redrawn district, which covers Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties, needs to better reflect the people who reside there.

"People that have lost hope because their representative [doesn't] look like them, [has] not lived like them... this is about every American that struggled every day, that they feel like they have not been heard in terms of representation. This is about pulling those people back to strengthen back our democracy," Majok said.

Majok will face off in the Aug. 23 primary election against fellow Democrats Sam Roberts, Sarah Klee Hood and Francis Conole. The top vote-getter will then go up against the Republican primary victor in the general election in November.

Majok said there are tangible threats to American democracy, such as the insurrection of Jan. 6 and terrorism. But Majok said he feels the biggest threat is poverty.

"Poverty has the ability to erode engagement, and without engagement, there is no democracy. There is no democracy without engagement. When you go to these poor neighborhoods, what is happening is people are disengaged. and you talk about strengthening democracy, why don't we worry about that," Majok said.

Tied to poverty are housing and home ownership, in both urban and rural communities, Major said, but he claims that there hasn’t been a major investment in housing in decades, and houses are coming down faster than they’re being built.

"Which squeeze working people and struggling people because there's not enough space. Corporate people are seeing that and they are jacking up prices. It's a problem of supply and demand, and they see that, exploit that, and poor people are suffering from that. Getting to congress, I want to build more houses and incentivize homeownership," Majok said.

Majok says he brings more constituent service experience to the race than his three fellow Democrats, including serving as a staffer for two state senators and a mayor. The father of five also has a Ph.D. in executive leadership. Before that, he worked on a farm, cleaned floors, and worked in manufacturing.

"I may not have been born in America, but lived experience transcends boundaries of race, gender, ethnic identity, you name it. Lived experience [is] so important, and that's what I bring," Majok said.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.