Democratic candidates for the 138th: Barnhart hopes to topple incumbent Bronson

YLEHQ Rochester

Throughout parts of Rochester, Henrietta, and Chili, voters have a choice for state assembly between four candidates – including two Democrats. But Democratic incumbent Harry Bronson and former News 8 anchor Rachel Barnhart hope to keep this district a Democratic stronghold.

“The way these district are gerrymandered to be safe Democat or safe Republican seats, the only way to hold lawmakers accountable is from challenges within their parties,” said Barnhart. “That’s why I’m challenging Harry Bronson. I believe he is the weakest lawmaker in our delegation. He is a status quo lawmaker, a go-along-to-get-along lawmaker who pretty much does what he’s told.”

While his opponents on both sides of the aisle are critical, Assemblyman Bronson says he’s proud of what he’s been able to accomplish in Albany, especially this past year.

“We’ve done a lot. That’s why we passed the minimum wage. That’s why we have economic development programs,” Bronson said. “We’re working on the anti-poverty initiative both here in Monroe County as well as the Assembly’s anti-poverty task force.”

But Barnhart says it’s just not enough and voters shouldn’t be satisfied. She asserts that Bronson is taking credit for supporting other lawmakers’ bills, and should’ve been more vocal about the big issues like corruption in Albany.

“I’m as frustrated as everyone else about those politicians who have violated the public trust. It’s uncalled for and it should not be happening,” Bronson said. “That’s why I was happy to pass the pension forfeiture. We did that.”

“They’re congratulating themselves for beginning the process of stripping convicted lawmakers of their pensions. They shouldn’t be congratulated for that. That is something they should have done a very long time ago,” said Barnhart. “They did not close the LLC loophole and they did not pass meaningful reforms, and yet they left Albany.”

Bronson says the problem is with the State Senate, and promises to continue working towards change in the Assembly if voters re-elect him – adding that he supports closing the LLC loophole and is an advocate for public financing of campaigns.

Win or lose in the September primary and November elections, both candidates say it’s great to see this many people involved in the race.

“I think it’s a great thing that there’s a primary on the other side of the aisle and it’s a great thing that there’s a primary on this side of the aisle,” said Barnhart. “No one is entitled to be a state lawmaker for life. This is not a lifetime job. You have to work for it and any time you have an election like this, it promotes democracy and it promotes very important discussion in the community.”

We also spoke with the Republican candidates for the 138th Assembly district here.

Disclaimer: Rachel Barnhart is a former employee of WROC-TV.

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