BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – New York’s 123rd Assembly seat is one of the few legislative districts in Upstate New York that were unchanged by redistricting.
For the past 18 years, Democrat Donna Lupardo has represented the City of Binghamton, the Town of Vestal and the Town of Union which includes Endicott and Johnson City.
Lupardo says that while she’s accomplished a lot, her increasing seniority has positioned her to make an even greater impact on the community.
While Donna Lupardo’s district isn’t particularly rural, she’s had a major impact on farming and food processing in our region as chair of the Assembly Agriculture committee. She’s been a big proponent of hemp and secured the funding to build the Farmers Market, commercial kitchen and Taste New York store on Upper Front Street.
“Finding things we can agree on and getting things done has been an important skill set,” says Lupardo. “You have to be open-minded and you have to be willing to moderate your own positions to try to find compromise. I think I have been very effective at that.”
Lupardo says she’s used her time in Albany to forge relationships with downstate legislators. During the pandemic, she organized a state initiative to purchase food grown Upstate to feed hungry people in New York City. And she’s a major supporter of the New Energy New York effort to establish a lithium-ion battery research and manufacturing hub in Endicott and the accompanying development.
“It’s so gratifying to see life coming back to empty buildings, research really being put to good use in terms of jobs being created to form the energy future that we need. I just really want to see a lot of this through.”
One of the Assemblywoman’s major priorities has been addressing the high rate of poverty in our area. In percentage of people living below the poverty line, Broome ranks third among counties in the state behind the Bronx and Brooklyn.
Lupardo says many community leaders have misconceptions about the lives and needs of low-income people and that the poor need to be engaged in strategies intended to help them. And certain structural institutions can trap people in poverty, such as the social services benefits cliff.
“You can’t graduate off benefits. You’re cut off if you make a dime too much over the threshold. Many people would like to graduate off benefits but they can’t afford to go without childcare or without assistance in one way or another.”
Lupardo supports the state’s Equal Rights Amendment that would enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution. As for the controversy over criminal justice reforms such as cashless bail, Lupardo says the rollout, not the concept, was flawed. She says the state should provide additional money to speed up the court process and offer more treatment to offenders with mental health and substance use issues. She cites a letter from the state association of police chiefs that supports cashless bail but with additional resources.
“Locally, our crime has actually gone down over the years. It’s really unfair that fear is being used to obscure a policy issue that certainly had the best of intentions and did not create the problems that are being attributed to it.”
Lupardo says another goal is addressing our area’s very high property tax rates. She’d like to do that by increasing the property tax base through new business and development. Lupardo says she’s known in Albany as being the chief cheerleader for the Southern Tier.
“It’s very important that our voices are heard in the room where decisions are made. I am in there and I can tell you that I have a very strong impact on raising the level of awareness of our needs here and bringing in vital resources.”
Lupardo says she’s keenly aware of the damage the loss of the manufacturing sector had on Greater Binghamton and she’s laser focused on bringing the region back to its economic glory days.
If elected, this will be Lupardo’s 10th term in the Assembly.
Tomorrow evening, we will have a profile of her Republican challenger, City Councilwoman Sophia Resciniti.
You can find out more information about local races on the Your Local Election Headquarters page.