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Politics & Government

Democrats in NY's 53rd Senate District Face Rare Choice at Thursday's Polls


Democrats in the state senate’s 53rd district will have a choice on tomorrow’s ballot between a long-term in incumbent and a progressive challenger.  Dave Valesky is trying to fend off strong opposition from Rachel May.   

She is the first democrat to challenge the senator since he took office fourteen years ago. She says she believes it’s time for change.

"This is a moment where people are awake an engaged.  It's possible to take on incumbents, even incumbents with lots of money and lots of name recognition and actually challenge them.  People are  listening to the message and not willing to vote for business as usual.” 

May currently works as Coordinator of Sustainability Education at Syracuse University.  But she also has experience as an educator, working for the democratic committee and working with grassroots organizations.

“That understanding of systems is really important in government because a lot of solutions proposed for problems actually end up causing more problems somewhere else.  So having someone who understands conflict, systems, and problem solving is really valuable.”  

Valesky, on the other hand, cites his experience and accomplishments in the State Senate as reasons why voters should keep him in office.  Here he is in this campaign ad:

“Marriage equality.  More aid for education.  The best paid family leave in the nation.  Gun safety to reduce gun violence.  Better health care.  Fifteen dollar minimum wage.  Environmental justice.  Immigrant rights.  All of this and more.”   

Senator Valesky’s campaign did not respond to requests for an interview.  Also on the ballot on this Thursday, Cynthia Nixon challenges Governor Andrew Cuomo in the democratic primary.  State democrats will also choose their candidate in a four-way race for attorney general.  There are also a number of other local races on the city, town, and village levels.