Democratic Congressional Candidates Debate at SU as Primary Approaches Democratic Congressional Candidates Debate at SU as Primary Approaches

Christopher Baker: “Good evening and welcome.”

Avery Gingerich: “It was debate night at Syracuse University yesterday. State senator John Mannion and DeWitt councilwoman Sarah Klee Hood defined them selves —

Sarah Klee Hood: “I’m a mom, I’m a veteran, an environmental policy expert.”

John Mannion: “I ran for state senate and flipped a seat that was held by republicans for 100 years.”

Avery Gingerich: ” — and the stakes — ”

Sarah Klee Hood: “It’s about the opportunity to elect a candidate who understands the issues at the federal level, but more importantly realizes that all politics are local.”

John Mannion: “We are on a path right now that we have to change. It takes true leadership and courage.”

Avery Gingerich: ” — of their campaigns to take Republican Brandon Williams’ seat in the House of Representatives this November.
Registered Democrats will choose either Klee Hood or Mannion in the Democratic primary on June 25th. After the debate, hopes were high.”

Sarah Klee Hood: “We did it! First one’s done, we got about four more to go, but it was great.”

John Mannion: “It went great. You know, I had an opportunity to share where I’m coming from.”

Avery Gingerich: “The Syracuse Post – Standard hosted the event.”

Christopher Baker: “The hope or goal is really just to help the public make a decision.

If elected, what actions would you take specifically to lower costs for consumers and curb price gauging by corporations?”

Avery Gingerich: “Both candidates say the other still has questions to answer.”

Sarah Klee Hood: “When you signal on your website that you are looking for mail support outside of you S-D 50 district, you are effectively telling special interests and other donors that you need mail support.”

John Mannion: “What we’ve seen in the media recently, and coming out of your campaign, is very harsh, misleading, and certainly exaggerations or blatant lies.”

Avery Gingerich: “Both also say they’re ready for more.”

Sarah Klee Hood: “There are a lot of things we didn’t talk about. So, let’s talk about college affordability.”

John Mannion: “Well there’s a lot to talk about. You know, there’s issues broad and wide.”

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — It was debate night at Syracuse University yesterday.

State Sen. John Mannion and DeWitt Councilwoman Sarah Klee Hood defined themselves and the stakes of their campaigns to voters in a livestream hosted by the Syracuse Post – Standard. In an hour-long, wide-ranging session, both Democratic candidates defined themselves as advocates for Central New York and the best one to beat Republican incumbent Rep. Brandon Williams.

Experience, With a Twist

Klee Hood defined herself as an experienced professional who brings a fresh approach to government.

“I’m a mom, I’m a veteran, an environmental policy expert,” she said.

The Air Force veteran said she has a diverse background: daily lessons in financial policy as she raises her family; foreign policy from her military career working in U.S.-Russian relations; and her passion as a councilwoman to build an eco-friendly future.

Sarah Klee Hood answers a question during's primary debate at the Newhouse school.
Klee Hood said her military background is also an asset against Navy veteran Brandon Williams.
© 2024 Avery Gingerich

She also said her experience working at the local level has actually helped her understand complex policy.

“I’m charged with implementing federal policy with all of the baggage and none of the budget,” she said.

An advocate for women’s reproductive rights, Klee Hood said that she would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law and work to protect the relationship between women and their medical providers.

“Anything less ensures that women are not treated as first-class citizens” she said.

Proven Results

Mannion took a position largely similar to Klee Hood’s. A former teacher with 28 years of experience in local public-school systems (he spent 21 years teaching AP biology and chemistry inside the West Genesse school district), Mannion said he took a leadership mindset based on teaching into politics.

He said he didn’t intend to run for office. The election of former President Donald Trump changed that.

“I watched my kids, and those kids that I taught, face a future like I never imagined could occur,” he said.

John Mannion answers a questions during's primary congressional debate at the Newhouse school.
Sen. Mannion said the national political mood has never recovered from former President Trump. He thinks his leadership as a teacher can be part of the cure.
© 2024 Avery Gingerich

Currently serving his second term as the senator for New York state’s 50th district, Mannion emphasized his legislative record.

“Last year we had 22 bills passed through Congress signed into law. I had, in 2023, 27 pieces of legislation that passed both houses of the state legislator and were signed into law,” he said.

He noted his personal support for legislation to protect women’s reproductive rights, as well as efforts to improve funding and access to public resources for disabled individuals.

Let the People Decide

Christopher Baker said the Post-Standard’s role was to serve as a conduit for voters from New York 22nd Congressional District, which comprises Onondaga, Madison and Oneida counties, as well as parts of Oswego.

“The hope or the goal is to just to help the public make a decision,” Baker said.

Chris Baker speaks with NCC News outside of the Newhouse School
Baker said the turnout for this primary will be low compared to November’s general election. He said both Democrats and Republicans view the district as key to controlling the House.
© 2024 Avery Gingerich

The debate covered national issues like inflation; U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza; and Congress’ response to the protest movements that have sprung up around the college campuses as a result. There were also more personal questions, like which Republican member of Congress the candidates could see themselves working with and what issue they believe Congress spends too much time discussing.

Towards the end of the night, Baker asked Mannion and Klee Hood to draw where they are on a political spectrum line from 1-10. He said 1 equaled Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor  Greene, 10 equaled New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Both candidates drew themselves towards Ocasio-Cortez. Mannion chose 7, Klee Hood chose a range of 6-10.

Both said that while they identify with the Democratic Party, neither felt comfortable with that as their sole identity. Both said they will seek to balance big ideas and national issues with the reality of life in CNY. Baker said that sentiment is on course with the history of CNY.

“It’s a district that lends itself towards bipartisanship,” he said. “A more moderate kind of politician, or at least that’s what we’ve seen historically.”

Only registered Democrats can vote in this month’s Democratic primary. Early voting starts this Saturday, June 15. Primary election day will be Wednesday, June 25.

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