2022 Government Affairs

Candidate Scorecard

The Government Affairs and Economic Development council of the Greater Utica Chamber of Commerce sent out a Candidate Questionnaire to all candidates running for office in districts relevant to our membership.  The candidates were asked to provide their candidate and campaign information, chamber affiliations, top 3 planks of their campaign, top 3 issues impacting businesses in their district, and lastly their reflections of support for the Chamber’s Public Policy Positions.  We included a summary of the Chamber’s most recent and relevant Public Policy Positions and the candidates were asked to rank their level of support for those positions.  To view a copy of the questionnaire, please click here.

Candidates measured their support on a scale rating of 1-5
(5=Strongly Agree, 1=Strongly Disagree)

Their score is based on the average of their ratings for each of the answered positions.  The Government Affairs and Economic Development Council’s purpose in publishing this feedback is to educate our Membership as to which candidates most strongly support the Chamber’s pro-business policies. Please see below for a snapshot of each candidate’s response.

Please note:  If a candidate chose not to respond, despite our best effort to encourage responses in order to publish this information to our 575+ member businesses and organizations, they received a “0” score and they are listed at the bottom of this email.

New York State Assembly – 118th District
Robert Smullen – Republican
SCORE:  4.8
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Taxes- NYS is the most heavily taxed state in the United States according to the American Legislative Exchange Councils “Rich States, Poor States”  index.
2. Regulation- NYS burdens its small businesses with some of the most onerous regulatory requirements of any state.  When combined with CoVId-19 restrictions, it has hampered our businesses especially in Upstate NY.
3. Freedom – New York needs to protect the constitutional rights of its citizens. Unfortunately NYS recently passed more legislation restricting the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers, even after a decisive Supreme Court decision.
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. Passing along unemployment insurance costs to small businesses
2. The high cost of providing private health insurance.
3. The high cost of energy (gas, diesel, propane) from inflation and supply shortages to run businesses


New York State Assembly – 119th District
John S. Zielinski – Republican
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Reduce NYS spending & reduce NYS taxes, SIGNIFICANTLY.
The NYS Budget increased 27% over the past 2 years.  Even without further increases this spending level is unsustainable & discourages businesses from relocating here, new business startups & current businesses from expanding.
Many residents & especially their children are leaving our state because job & business opportunities are much better elsewhere as we are the highest taxed of all 50 States.
Businesses create jobs, not government !
2. Public safety. NYS must stop coddling criminals, dangerous “Bail Reform” creates unsafe communities & the HALT act handcuffs corrections officers.   Furthermore, laws making NY an attractive sanctuary state for illegal aliens by giving them taxpayer paid benefits such as Medicaid & unemployment payments, free tuition & legal aid don’t help create safe communities and cost us billions of $.
Without safe communities businesses can’t focus on doing business or employees on working at their jobs
3. Pro active economic development & deregulation that benefits all businesses.  The current economic development efforts are focused on bringing large businesses from out of state to NY by offering special incentives.
While this is important, NYS has neglected to improve the overall climate for business in general by reducing spending, i.e. taxes and eliminating unnecessary regulations.
We are one of the most over regulated states already & that must change to create a more business friendly NYS.
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. Taxes are out of control as NY is the most highly taxed state for individuals & businesses in the union.
This is because NY’s budget is double that of Florida while Florida has a slightly larger population.  Why ?  We spend wildly on social & special interest programs while ignoring hard working New Yorker’s & our businesses.
Example, Medicaid, which consumes 43% of NY’s budget is a “Cadillac” program with 27 extra benefits over basic Medicaid.  Every free ride goes to the ER necessary or not !!
2. Energy costs are double compared to 21 months ago with the commodity portion of our electric and natural gas bills almost triple in some cases.  Every business large, small, retail,
commercial, manufacturing, you name it is impacted by the cost of energy to heat & cool their premises.
Likewise fuel prices increase the cost of everything a business needs to buy that is transported to them.
We must roll back Hochul’s crazy green energy policy that would prohibit natural gas hookups
after 2027, etc
3. Over regulation of business in NY costs them & consumers $billions$ each year.  We should review & eliminate any regulation that does not directly contribute to workplace safety & security.

HR Law is way over the top in NY by burdening the employer to prove themselves innocent of contributing to a hostile or harassing environment.  No one wants employees to be harassed or bullied, but individuals bully & harass not the company.

Other regulations are meant to promote social justice, why ?


New York State Assembly – 119th District
Marianne Buttenschon – Democratic, Endorsed by Conservative Party
SCORE: 4.9
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Public Safety to ensure the health and safety of all that serve and who they serve
2.Viable and productive Economic Development.  This must include all stakeholders from infastructure to small business growth
3. Education and job training   The chamber has played a positive role in meeting the needs of the workforce with our educational institutions and I support this effort.  Thank You
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
After attending your morning discussions with the candidates the following concerns were brought forward as well as those that my office received calls and emails.

1. To retain their work force.  This is an issue that can only be resolved with a multiple sector approach.   Baby boomers deserve to retire, but we need them, high school graduating classes are half the size they used to be, and our work force ethic has changed.  These are the root of the problems as I have observed.

2. Regulations that curtail their businesses.  Everyday we are faced with the challenges a consumer asking government to modify a business practice that they feel has hindered them.   My approach is to listen to the business owner and ask them what is the compromise to the challenge that a consumer has faced.  Regulations are not always the answer.
3. Being overwhelmed and the lack of adequate time to accomplish what they need to do. We have a quick paced business environment, challenges from COVID, and with the concern of employee’s roles changing it is easy for many owners to become overwhelmed.
Small business owners are very much aware of the problem of not having sufficient time that is needed for their business and a healthy work/life balance.


New York State Assembly – 122nd District
Brian D. Miller – Republican, Conservative
SCORE: 4.9
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Taxes – Our families & local businesses are such a crucial part to our communities. In the past, the state has made up budget deficits on the backs of the hardworking middle-class with millions in tax increases. I have not supported that in the past, and I will not support it now. We have one of the worst business climates in the nation. While large companies are getting millions in tax incentives, small businesses continue to struggle under oppressive unfunded mandates from the state.
2. Infrastructure – Updating and maintaining our infrastructure is a top priority of mine. As the state representative of a district that covered seven counties, I have driven across roads from the Mohawk Valley to Orange County. The state needs to make an investment in improving our roads and bridges. I will continue to advocate for that money to be allotted to fixing our roadways, bridges and underground infrastructure, as good infrastructure is a driver of economic development.
3. Public Safety – Public safety throughout our communities has been hindered by dangerous policies such as Bail Reform and the HALT Act. This has made it near impossible for local law enforcement officers to do their jobs to keep themselves and our communities safe from harm. We also must address mental health and opioid issues that are so prevalent here by increasing treatment options and improving education on the dangers of opioids and heroin.
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. Unemployment Insurance – I am in full support of the Government using federal funds to pay down unemployment insurance. The State has an opportunity to apply $2 billion in unspent federal funds to pay down the outstanding balance which would help offset the cost to businesses. This should NOT fall on the backs of our business owners. Discontinuing the enhanced federal COVID-19 unemployment benefit was an important first step, now let’s continue to help our struggling business.
2. We must Remove burdens on job growth & businesses. Overregulation and mandates make starting and running a business here increasingly difficult. We need to come together and cut the red tape for businesses and work with our local businesses. The millions of dollars the executive branch has wasted on flawed economic policies have yielded little in return. We need good, local jobs.  Overall, small businesses have not received adequate support from our State Government.
3. I have heard time and time again that businesses are STILL struggling to recruit and retain employees. New York businesses and employers need to be able to operate efficiently, with a strong workforce. Our office has been inundated with outreach regarding the lack of available labor from all sectors of the economy. It is time to fill all our available critical roles across every industry and in every corner of this state.

Let us do everything to cut the unemployment rate and fill jobs.


New York State Assembly – 122nd District
Dan Buttermann – Democrat
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Returning people to Central New York.  We have lost people in this region and we must turn that trend around.  The solution is not found in one piece of legislation, but in an approach that works to address the many areas of need.  This includes action in the areas of business development, housing, education, energy and infrastructure.  This is neither exhaustive nor comprehensive but areas of opportunity that will benefit many communities across this district.
2. Economic Development.  We need new businesses in the 122nd District and across Central New York.  My focus is on supporting entrepreneurs right here and the businesses that have supported our communities for generations.  Locally owned and operated businesses of any size contribute to the overall good of our communities, and we need more stories of family business success in Central New York.
3. Education.  This is the most important investment we make in our future and we have only one chance to do it right with our children.  This district has many small schools and they can provide immense value to the educational experience of our children, and my goal is to support that.  This will be done by funding and mandate changes that will empower each school to address the unique interests and abilities of its students.
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. Inflation is hurting businesses.  Inflation control is outside the scope of what the State Legislature can do, but we can take action to help mitigate its negative impact on the businesses in our region.
2. The ability for businesses to find the right employees limits their success.  My objective in the Assembly is to develop the training and certification programs to prepare students for careers in this region.  This also requires working with businesses to ensure preparatory work matches their needs.  This can be done with school districts and with the colleges in the district.
3. Economic and revitalization grants can be useful, but need more local control to ensure proper usage.  The state programs like the Downtown Revitalization Initiative or New York Forward can be helpful to update business districts, and it is our job to support local leadership in the development and execution of those plans.


New York Congressional District 21
Elise Stefanik – Republican, Conservative
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Reining in Joe Biden and House Democrats’ reckless tax and spend agenda which has led to the highest inflation we’ve seen in decades. Lower the price of gas, utilities, and heating bills by unleashing American energy independence.
2. Creating jobs and economic opportunities for hard working families, small businesses, and family farms of Upstate New York and the North Country. Supporting workforce development and BOCES partnerships with local employers.
3. Restoring law and order by securing our southern border and supporting our brave law enforcement officers to end the crime crisis in New York that impacts every family, small business, and community.
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. As I criss-cross NY-21’s 15 counties, the most pressing issue impacting our small businesses and families is skyrocketing inflation. Costs are rising for every American family because of Far-Left Democrats’ out-of-control government spending. Upstate New York and North Country families work hard for their paychecks, and they deserve better. I introduced the REIN IN Inflation Act which would require the Biden Administration to publish the impact their executive orders would have on inflation.
2. While millions of Americans remain out of the workforce in the midst of a labor shortage, I am committed to helping employers identify workers and expand resources for workforce training. I’m proud to have been ranked by the Center for Effective Lawmaking as the most effective Republican lawmaker on policy impacting small businesses, and I will continue to deliver common sense solutions to expand workforce training and support our businesses community.
3. Time and time again, NYS has continued to overregulate and burden our small businesses. Hochul’s NYS Farm Laborers Wage Boards’ disastrous decision to lower the overtime threshold would devastate our family farms and economy. I have proudly stood with our farmers and helped introduce the Protect Local Farms Act to repeal this decision and end this assault on rural New Yorkers. I am committed to offering real solutions in Congress to stop Albany Democrats’ radical agenda hurting New York.


New York Congressional District 22
Brandon Williams – Republican
Top 3 Planks of Campaign:
1. Reduce root causes of inflation
2. Reindustrialize NY-22. Bring back manufacturing and jobs.
3. Reduce crime by supporting law enforcement
Top 3 Business Issues in District:
1. Inflation/Energy Costs
2. Rising crime
3. Taxes/regulations

The following is the list of candidates invited to participate, but for whom a submission was not received at the time of publication:

Letitia James – D   [Attorney General]
Michael Henry – R   [Attorney General]
Matt Castelli – D   [Congress NY 21]
Francis Conole – D   [Congress NY 22]
Kathy Hochul – D   [Governor]
Lee Zeldin – R   [Governor]
Mark Walczyk – R NYS   [Senate 49]
Joe Griffo – R NYS   [Senate 53]
Thomas P DiNapoli – D   [State Comptroller]
Paul Rodriguez – R   [State Comptroller]
Chuck Schumer – D   [US Senator]
Joe Pinion – R   [US Senator]