Grove Header- White.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Balter Sets Sights on Katko, Highlights Differences after Decisive Primary Win


  Dana Balter can put the primary battle behind her and now focus on the general election contest where she hopes the decisive victory will propel her to switch John Katko’s congressional seat to the Democrats.

The sound of applause, cheers and whistling roared out at Bowl Mor Lanes in East Syracuse Tuesday night, not because bowling balls were crashing against pins, but rather Dana Balter was celebrating her victory as the new Democratic Congressional nominee.

She was rallying her team for a new fight in November against the current administration’s policies. Here’s what you need to know about Balter’s platform in her race against John Katko.

“I’m running for Congress because we need a representative who will show up, who will listen and who will stand up for the people of this district. We do not need a man who votes with Donald Trump 91% of the time.”


Balter said the main reason she chose to run was her frustration at not being able to meet with Katko or his office about concerns, a perception shared by her supporters. 

“It is time to bring our politics and government back to the hands of the people where it belongs. It is time to replace john Katko with a woman; a woman who will stand up for the people of this district; a woman who will not be bought; a woman who will stand up to the bullies, whether they are on our streets, in our Congress or in the Oval Office.”

Balter with supporters in East Syracuse Tuesday night

  Balter is selecting five main points to focus on in office: healthcare, economy, environment, criminal justice and public education.


Balter has talked publicly about the significant role her younger, disabled brother has had on her fight for justice. She even disclosed her own physical battles with health issues, which forced to delay her doctorate degree from Syracuse University.

These personal struggles have made her an advocate for securing healthcare as a guaranteed right for every American, regardless of pre-existing conditions or financial restraints. Balter believes Medicare can help accomplish this goal.

“Let’s work to ensure that every person in this country can see a doctor when they need to. No one should have to choose between buying food and buying medicine. John Katko promised he wouldn’t get rid of the ACA without a good replacement. He lied to us. He voted for the tax bill that sabotaged the ACA. As a result, premiums are skyrocketing. Here in Central New York as much as 36-percent, and there’s pre-existing conditions. If you have pre-existing conditions raise your hand. If you’ve had cancer, or high blood pressure, or asthma, if you’re pregnant, because of John Katko’s vote your coverage is at risk. Because of John Katko, you could be turned down for health insurance; you and more than 296,000 other adults in our district. Let’s replace him with a representative who will never stop fighting until every person in this country has health insurance and healthcare.”

The Democratic nominee is a supporter for pro-choice. She has pledged to protect and expand upon policies that will safeguard women’s reproductive health.  She also stands by the idea that small, mom and pop businesses should not be burdened with providing health insurance for their employees.


“One of the challenges that people are facing … in Syracuse and across Central New York, there are definitely people who are out of work and need work, but we also have a lot people who are working, and working full time, but they are struggling to make ends meet. That has to do with the fact that we don’t have enough jobs that pay well,” she said.  “One of the things we need to focus on when we talk about revitalizing our economy is making sure that the new jobs that come are jobs people can support themselves and their families and build a better future. I believe the way that we do that here in Central New York is investing in a green economy. If we focus on manufacturing capacities and work on producing green technology and green infrastructure, we will be launching long-term economic growth for the region with good paying jobs for people of all education levels.” 

Balter also supports a $15 minimum wage, indexed to inflation, at the national level, to prevent anyone who’s working form living in poverty.

“John Katko voted for a tax bill that helps multinational corporations ship our jobs overseas. Let’s replace him with a representative who’s committed to growing jobs right here at home so every family can build a better future.”


Balter supports renewable enege, as well as measures that would combat emissions that contribute to global warming.  She pledges to work for:

  • Reinstate environmental protections rolled back by this GOP Congress. We’ve made too much progress to watch it undone.
  • Institute a carbon tax. By putting a price on carbon emissions, we will reduce demand.  The market will then move to invest heavily in renewable energy.
  • Invest in water infrastructure. We need to replace lead pipes to ensure that our drinking water is safe.
  • Move towards 100% renewable energy. We need to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and become world leaders in renewable energy technology.

Criminal Justice

She cites several areas in need of reform, including more mental health services and job training in prisons.  She would also work toward eliminating cash bail for minor infractions, seen by some as a policy that makes the court system less fair for people in poverty who can’t get out of jail to fight offenses.

Public Education

Balter would support greater investments in schools and community education, including: 

  • Invest in quality schools for all of our children, not in charter schools for a few.   Every child deserves access to a public school that meets high standards of accountability.
  • Fully fund our public schools. In too many places, under-resourced schools and districts are waiting for money from the state and federal government.
  • Establish universal Pre-K for all three and four year olds so they have the preparation they need to succeed in school.
  • Revitalize civics education. We need to prepare students to become participants in our democracy.  This requires knowing how all levels of government work, how to engage in public deliberation, and how to get along in a plural society.

“We need to invest in high quality schools for every single one our kids. Starting with universal pre-k and going all the way through debt-free vocational and technical education and college.  John Katko says nothing when Betsey DeVos funnels precious resources away from our public schools. He says nothing when she roles back civil rights protections for students with disabilities, students of color, transgender students, and student victims of sexual assault. Let’s replace him with a representative who will always stand up and fight for our students.”

Balter faced the primary challenge because the national Democratic Campaign Coordinating Committee helped Juanita Perez Williams run.  Balter faces a large fundraising deficit against the incumbent Katko, one that support by the national party could help close.


Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.