At a meeting of the College Republicans yesterday, Republican candidate for New York State Assembly Mike Sigler spoke about the status of his campaign and fielded questions from the audience.
Sigler is running for the seat currently held by Marty Luster (D-125), who is retiring. Luster’s former chief of staff Barbara Lifton is the Democratic candidate.
He said he was trailing Lifton by five points in the polls and characterized her as the favorite in the race.
“This is a very winnable race… [but] I still think we’re the underdog, which is good,” Sigler said, going on to talk about the advantages of having to be on the campaign trail and knocking on people’s doors every day.
Despite the popularity of Luster and the 3,000 person edge the Democrats have in registered voters over the Republicans in the 125th district, Sigler feels that several factors in this election favor his candidacy.
The seat was held by the Republican party for seven decades before Luster won it in 1989. He said that he also expected the popularity of Republican governor George Pataki and the weakness of his Democratic challenger Carl McCall to help his race.
“The ideas of the other side aren’t ideas, they are just the rehashing of old things,” Sigler said.
“I believe that their is a core set of beliefs that drives a campaign … We cast a wide net,” he continued, while he said he believed Lifton’s campaign is too far to the left.
Questions from the audience comprised the second part of the meeting and mostly revolved around Sigler’s positions on the issues of the race.
In response to an audience member’s question, Sigler detailed a “five point plan” based on recommendations from small business owners in Ithaca.
The first point of this plan is education. Sigler said he wants the state to determine the minimum amount of money it takes to educate a student and ensure that each district receives enough money to meet this figure. He also expressed concern for where state money was currently allocated in education.
“There is too much administration, not enough teachers,” Sigler said, proposing to trim administrative positions and use the savings to hire additional teachers.
The second point in Sigler’s plan is to make Tompkins County an Empire Zone in Agriculture and to ensure Cortland remains such a zone. This is a state program that provides property tax rebates as incentives for job creation.
The third point is modeled on the Empire Zones program and is called “Technology Transfer.” Under this program, the state would help colleges act to set up business ventures based on their intellectual ideas and patents and to keep these businesses in the region.
Fourth, Sigler wants to put more emphasis on regionalism instead of competition with nearby towns and counties. In his words, “What is good for Syracuse is good for Ithaca.” Sigler wants to attract more businesses to Ithaca as well.
The final point in Sigler’s plan is an upgrade of the area’s power grid, which he described as inefficient and outdated.
Ryan Horn grad, president of the Cornell College Republicans, described his organization as enthusiastic about Sigler’s candidacy.
“Mike isn’t just running. He’s running to win … He’s running for office to do some good.”
“I think he’s a good candidate,” said Paul Eastlund ’05, a member of the College Republicans, “He really listened to our views.”
Archived article by Daniel Palmadesso