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Election 2022: 127th Assembly District candidates focus on Micron, housing, and education

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Scott Willis/WAER News and provided photo/Karen Ayoub
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Incumbent democrat Al Stirpe is being challenged by republican Karen Ayoub in the 127th assembly district race.

Voters in the slightly redrawn 127th Assembly District must decide between a seven-term incumbent and a political newcomer in this year's election.

The 127th district includes the Town of Clay, where Micron will invest $100 billion over the next 20 years toward its semiconductor facilities. Incumbent Al Stirpe sponsored the Green CHIPS Act, which helped lure the company to Central New York. Stripe has now said the region and the state are prepared for the housing boom the microchip company will produce.

“There has to be incentives for these developers to build affordable housing," Stripe said. "Everybody wants to build luxury housing, and luxury housing is great, but there are a lot of people who don't fall in the luxury category."

Stirpe adds that the state will also be involved in transportation infrastructure to address increased traffic caused by construction and plant operations. GOP challenger Karen Ayoub said education will also be critical to ramping up a workforce.

"Getting our children in the classroom with a focus on core academics, the STEM programs," Ayoub said. "As Micron comes, it's [a] very exciting time. There's a lot of work to be done, a lot of catching up to do to have our kids prepared for the future.”

Ayoub also wants to ensure that Micron and the state meet its benchmark and receives $10 billion in incentives under the green CHIPS legislation.

“We need to have benchmarks for everything from looking at transportation to make sure that Micron is living up to its environmental standards that it has set forth; that our children are in school and learning," Ayoub said. "We need to set benchmarks all the way along and make sure that all of us are living up to that. Stay in touch with the community residents to see what their concerns are, try and address things on a proactive manner rather than waiting until a problem is a problem."

Ayoub said she feels confident that Micron can benefit the area as much as the company has promoted that it would. While all eyes are on the chip maker company, Stirpe said he’s proud to have helped small businesses during the pandemic as chair of the Small Business Committee. As of now, Stripe said the Covid Recovery Grant Program has provided $865 million in relief.

“95% of that went to micro-businesses with 10 or fewer employees and that was kind of our target because the federal PPP program had taken pretty good care of the larger and midsize businesses," Stripe said. "But a lot of the micro-businesses don't have the human resources to fill out applications. There's a whole bunch of reasons why they sort of fell through the cracks,” he says.

Stirpe estimates about 42,000 businesses have received an average of $19,000 in assistance through the program. But Stirpe is concerned that those efforts and others are ignored because of the plethora of political ads targeting him and other Democrats in Albany.

“They're all negative and they all say they're going to do these things, which, if you look at it real close, we've already done," Stirpe said. "We had a $2.2 billion property tax rebate program this year that gave homeowners who have an adjusted gross income of less than $250,000 anywhere between $400 and $960. It's a pretty good check. We eliminated the sales tax on gas.”

Still, Ayoub said enough is not being done and voters are growing increasingly frustrated with what’s happening in the state.

“I'm watching our state become so expensive that people are leaving," Ayoub. "I'm worried about how many people are leaving and we're losing our tax base. It seems like there's a lack of understanding of that in much of Albany right now."

The redrawn 127th District covers the towns of Clay, Cicero, Manlius and now Cazenovia and no longer includes Lafayette, Pompey or Tully.

Early voting is underway in Onondaga County at 10 locations through Sunday. Election day is Nov. 8.

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.