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Balter Wins 24th District Congressional Primary over Perez-Williams: Will National Party Back Her?

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Democrats selected Dana Balter to chellenge John Katko for his congressional seat in Tuesday's primary election.  She beat Juanita Perez Williams in a race where the two shared similar views on many issues.  

Concern over national issues boosted voter turnout with more than 23,000 people paticipating, nearly twice the number from  the 2016 primary.

Balter won Onondaga County by a margin of 62%-38%, despite Parez Williams having the backing and financial support of the national Democratic Campaign Coordinating Committee.  She also won each of the other counties int he distric for an overall marging of victory of 62 % - 37 %.  A Siena College poll showed Balter trailing Perez Williams by 13-points two weeks ago.


The clock is ticking for the Democratic candidates in the 24th Congressional District Race as they attempt to reach additional supporters for Tuesday’s Primary. They’re running against two-term Republican John Katko.  

The two Democratic primary candidates in the 24th Congressional District race are hoping to reach additional supporters before the primary.

Juanita Perez Williams says the concerns of the people she’s met are very similar to her own.

“Voters are very concerned about this republican Congress, the fact that Donald Trump is not in a position to be a leader, that he's behaving in ways that are very erratic.  They know that John Katko has not been there for this district, that he has fallen in line with this republican congress as they dismantle health care as they try and privatize public education, as they fail to do anything about gun safety.  John Katko has not been a voice for us.  I hear this on every door I knock on.”   

Both Perez Williams and Dana Balter expressed their opinions that Katko seems aligned with his political party when he votes and they feel he didn’t stand up for important issues like healthcare.  Balter says Katko’s vote on the tax package ultimately gutted the Affordable Care Act.

We are seeing premiums skytrocket across the country.  In New York State, double digit premium increases.  Our largest insurer in Central New York is predicting increases of over 36 percent.  On top of that, beccause of his vote, people are with pre-existing conditons are now under threat.  In our district alone, that's 296,000 adults under the age of 65 whose health care is being threatened due to pre-existing conditions.  It's not just cancer.  We're talking about asthma, allergies, and being pregnant.” 

Both candidates say they want to be a strong voice for them in Washington on a number of issues.

“Whether I'm talking about my own children and thier future, or my mother and the crises that she's facing with social security...I get the story that many of our families are going through," Perez Williams said.

"Make sure that they have jobs with which they can pay the bills.  Make sure they can see a doctor when they need to.   Make sure that the air that they breathe and the food that they eat are clean," Balter said.

Only registered Democrats may vote in Tuesday's primary in the 24th Congressional District.  Polls are open from noon until 9 p.m.

John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.
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