Assemblyman Dan Stec believes his years of public service and knowledge of Albany make him the best candidate to succeed Sen. Betty Little, and he dismissed any notion that he doesn’t know how to reach across the aisle to get things done.
Stec, R-Queensbury, is running against Clinton County Treasurer Kimberly Davis to succeed the retiring Little, R-Queensbury, in the 45th Senate District. The district covers all of Warren, Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties and parts of Washington and St. Lawrence.
“We want to make sure the next person hits the ground running as much as possible,” Stec told the Post-Star editorial board Wednesday.
Stec has represented the 114th Assembly District since 2013, but his career in government started on the local level when he was appointed to the Queensbury Zoning Board nearly two decades earlier.
He later went on to serve two terms on the Queensbury Town Board and served as the town’s supervisor for nine years. He spent two years as chairman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors.
“The knowledge and the experience and the contacts and the resources and the network from each one of those builds on the next one,” Stec said.
A Queensbury native, Stec served eight years in the Navy after earning a degree in chemical engineering from Clarkson University. He worked several engineering jobs locally before going back to school for a master’s degree in business administration.
Stec rejected claims by Davis that he “demonizes the left” and pointed to four constitutional amendments he helped pass during his time in the Assembly as proof of his ability to communicate and work with anyone, regardless of political views.
“My ability to work across the aisle, whether it’s the administration and the commissioners and the executive, or with my fellow legislators in the Assembly and the Senate, is well demonstrated,” he said.
He added that he’s always willing to listen, but will not hesitate to make his voice heard if he hears an idea being discussed that will negatively impact the North Country.
New York, Stec said, must work to improve its fiscal outlook by slashing wasteful spending, reducing the tax burden and reducing its Medicaid costs.
“Medicaid from state-to-state is not done the same, it’s not offered at the same benefit levels, it’s not even offered at the same rules,” he said. “In New York state, we have checked the most expensive box on everything and that’s why we have an expensive plan.”
Stec also pointed to the state’s $400 million Hollywood tax credit and $27 million in Excelsior Scholarship funds for undocumented immigrants as potential cuts that could be made.
But there is one place Stec said funding shouldn’t be cut: policing.
He noted that police officers should be held accountable when they break the law, and improvements like better screening and additional training can be made to reform police agencies. He added that additional training would require additional resources.
“The suggestion that there’s not somehow a system in place to police and oversee law enforcement is a false argument,” Stec said. “But with that said, I’ll be the first to say there’s always room for improvement.”
Increasing access to broadband in the North Country is an issue Stec said he will continue to push.
Great strides have been made, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of telehealth and virtual learning has shown there is more to be done, he said.
Stec said the state lost a year because it was relying on outdated data from the Census Bureau, and noted the state is dealing with private industries that can be difficult to incentivize.
He added that additional funding will likely be needed to ensure all New Yorkers have access to quality broadband.
“It’s absolutely something I’m committed to. I’m frustrated like a lot of other people, but these projects … they take time,” Stec said.
When it comes to the environment, Stec said he believes it’s an important issue, but noted legislation approved last year to reduce carbon emissions in the state is a “job killer.”
The issue, he said, should be handled on the federal level.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires the state to reduce carbon emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050. The law also requires the state to produce 70% of its electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar power.
The law will not only deter businesses from coming to New York, but will allow them to set up shop in other states with less stringent regulations on carbon emissions, Stec said.
“We’ve done net loss to our own economy and we’ve done net loss environmentally,” he said.
Chad Arnold is a reporter for The Post-Star covering the city of Glens Falls and the town and village of Lake George. Follow him on Twitter @ChadGArnold.
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