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Election 2022: 126th Assembly District candidates concerned about education, inflation

Democrat Bruce MacBain, left, is challenging incumbent Republican John Lemondes in the 126th assembly district race.
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Democrat Bruce MacBain, left, is challenging incumbent Republican John Lemondes in the 126th assembly district race.

Voters in the mostly rural 126th Assembly District have to decide whether to keep their one-term Republican incumbent or go with a Democrat who’s new to politics after a 30-year career in education.

Candidate Bruce MacBain said voters he talks to in the district don’t really mind that he’s a Democrat, but that he’s candidate for state legislature.

“There's absolutely a strong feeling out there that people are a little sick of politics and the two parties that don't seem to be able to talk with each other," MacBain said. "I hope I can do something to help with that situation in Albany."

The oddly shaped district starts in Lysander, then sweeps south and west to include Auburn and towns in Cayuga and Onondaga County, before heading east to cover the southern towns.

MacBain of Auburn is a retired teacher and middle school principal and said he wants to find another way to serve his community. He said his experience in public education can be applied in the legislature.

“Trying to bring parents, taxpayers and board of education members to have the best for the students as we can," MacBain said. "I'm a consensus builder. I'm a team builder. And, I will be active. You will know who your assembly person is if I get elected."

MacBain said most voters tell him they’re concerned about the environment, women’s reproductive health and gas prices. He said the state did eliminate the gas tax to help ease the pain at the pump, but otherwise acknowledged not much else can be done on the state level to tame the global forces of inflation. Regardless, GOP incumbent John Lemondes still blames Democrats in Albany for high food, fuel, natural gas and electricity prices.

“This is not good for New Yorkers," Lemondes said. "And so in my role on the Economic Development Committee, I am going to continue working to make New York a state of destination, not out-migration."

Lemondes said voters tell him they’re also tired of high crime, which he blames on the bail reform measures spearheaded by Democrats a few years ago. The topic is a familiar Republican talking point in state legislature races.

“These things have done nothing but make our streets more dangerous, Our communities more dangerous," Lemondes said. "Their restrictions and near elimination of judicial discretion is really hurting us. That's the most important thing that most of us want our judges to be able to do, is determine if someone is a risk or not."

MacBain is more concerned about the long-lasting impact of the pandemic on education, specifically social and academic development.

“The scores just came out a few weeks ago," MacBain said. "We're behind five to seven points in math and English language arts.  I don't hear anybody talking about that. I hear what Republicans including my opponent talk about, you know, ‘oh, we've gotta get rid of critical race theory.’ First of all, it's not even in public schools. And second of all, what a distraction.  How dare people lead us down that path when there are real big issues of how do you rebound from the pandemic."

Meanwhile, the state continues to be involved in Micron’s $100 billion plan to build semiconductor facilities in the neighboring Town of Clay. MacBain said affordable housing will need to be even more of a priority as property and home prices continue to soar since the announcement. Lemondes said it’s certainly a good news story for the region’s defense industry.

“Central New York has been a radar hub for 60 years with, General Electric, then Lockheed Martin, Syracuse Research Corporation, Saab, etc., and it fits right in with them," Lemondes said. "I personally am going to do everything I can to help from the state level to make this happen, to bring those jobs in and build New York back to what it was…an economic powerhouse."

Early voting in Onondaga County continues through Nov. 6 at ten locations, and at three locations in Cayuga County

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