With less than a week until polls open for the 2022 midterm elections, numerous races are heating up in Orange County. Candidates have been busy campaigning, door knocking and attending community events to get their message out.
Here are six races to watch.
18th Congressional District, Colin Schmitt vs Pat Ryan
Colin Schmitt (R), who is running to represent constituents in the 18th Congressional District, is a Sergeant in the Army National Guard and currently serves as Assemblyman for the 99th NYS Assembly District.
Schmitt has run a campaign with a focus on the economy and the historic inflation impacting his constituents and the nation at large, among other hot button issues.
At a press conference on Oct. 6, held hours before President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Hudson Valley, Schmitt lashed out at the president’s policies placing the blame for soaring inflation and the subsequent cost-of-living crisis squarely at his feet.
“My constituents are very disappointed in the job Joe Biden and House Democrats are doing,” Schmitt said at the time, adding that, “As Joe Biden comes to Hudson Valley we wanted to make sure we highlighted those disappointments, failures and how his policies have hit us hard.”
Schmitt said “out-of-control” federal spending was the catalyst for a level of inflation not seen in 40 years.
In addition to tackling economic woes, if elected to Congress, Schmitt promises to address the southern border crisis, the fentanyl crisis, and the soaring crime that is impacting every New Yorker.
Squaring off against Schmitt is Democrat Pat Ryan (D) who is running on a platform that promises to level the playing field, protect foundational freedoms and keep the community safe.
Ryan is a fifth-generation Ulster County native, decorated combat veteran, small business owner, U.S. Congressman, and a former County Executive who lives in Gardiner with his wife and two young children.
In Congress, Ryan says he is fighting inflation by going after price-gougers who are harming customers, guaranteeing middle-class voters get a tax cut, and making sure billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share. He promises to “work with organized labor to guarantee better wages and protections for working families, pass paid family leave for all Americans, and ensure that equal work means equal pay.”
NYS Senate District 42, Dorey Houle vs James Skoufis
Dorey Houle, who is vying to represent constituents from New York’s 42nd District in the New York State Senate is a self-described “principled Republican fighter” with a long family history of serving the public.
Raised in Staten Island, New York, Houle moved to the town of Monroe in 2014. She is the daughter of a NYC Fire Lieutenant and wife of a NYPD officer and retired combat veteran. Her eldest son is currently serving in the armed forces.
“My husband and I are both members of several law enforcement organizations including the Orange County Fraternal Order of Police. I am honored to be supported by my friends, their families and the vast majority of the Orange County Law enforcement community who truly know that I will always stand in solidarity with them….not just when I’m seeking re-election. They know they can count on me to protect and defend their interest in Albany, the same way that they protect all of us each and every day,” she told Vision Times.
“When I talk to people, they tell me how frustrated they are over what politics and government has become,” Houle said, adding that, “We [politicians] have gotten away from the idea that we are public servants, and we need to ensure that people’s best interests are at the forefront.”
Incumbent, James Skoufis (D) is Houle’s opponent.
Born in Flushing, Queens in 1987, Skoufis is the son of a Greek immigrant. He moved to the town of Woodbury in the Hudson Valley in 1995.
After graduating from Monroe-Woodbury High School in 2005 he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University and a masters from Columbia University.
Skoufis began his political career as the representative for District 99 in the New York State Assembly, a role he took in January 2013 after defeating Republican Kyle Roddey with 56 percent of the vote. At the time, he was only 24-years-old making him the youngest member of the Assembly. He served in the role until Dec. 31, 2018.
He is running on his record of cracking down on corporate welfare, securing universal pre-k and record school funding as well as leading the fight against over development.
“James Skoufis has proven himself as the strong, independent voice the Hudson Valley needs. He’ll continue fighting for the things that matter most to our communities,” reads his campaign website.
Skoufis has received endorsements by numerous organizations including the New York State Troopers PBA, CSEA, City of New York Police PBA, and the New York State Union of Police Associations, Inc.
- Contender for NY’s State Senate Dorey Houle Brings ‘Balanced Views’ & Fresh Insight on Crime, Affordability, Education
- Orange County’s James Skoufis Hopes to Continue His Success as Senator for NY District 42
- ‘Democracy to me is something that I cherish’: Aileen Gunther on Running for Reelection to NYS Assembly
NYS Assembly District 98, Karl Brabenec vs Bruce Levine
Karl Brabenec (R), current Assemblyman for New York’s District 98, is running for reelection this Nov. 8. He took the time to speak with Vision Times early in the election cycle saying that “It’s very, very critical that we elect our Republican team this year to make a real change in New York State.”
Brabenec argues that taxes in the Empire State are too high, that there are too many regulations burdening small businesses and that “there’s more and more government intrusion into people’s lives.”
Among numerous issues including tax reform, ethics reform, protecting the environment and investing in infrastructure, Brabenec brings focus to the ongoing opioid epidemic that has been gripping the nation and impacting his community.
This election cycle, Brabenec says that the Republican team is “energized” and that they are looking forward to a “big, big win.”
Facing off against Brabenec is Democrat Bruce Levine.
Levine served as a County Legislator in Rockland for 11 years and worked as an attorney and policy maker in the County of Rockland, the town of Ramapo and the village of Spring Valley.
In his time as a County Legislator he says his “greatest governmental achievement was the creation of a means tested youth employment program.”
According to his campaign website, Levine says that Brabenec is “anti-choice and I am pro-choice. He is an NRA supporter and is against most gun control measures. I am for gun control and support even more ways to stop guns from being sold across our borders and brought in to commit crimes or even a massacre such as the one in Buffalo.”
Levine is running on a platform that promises to improve childcare, protect housing affordability, and to reform state regulations to put more power in the hands of consumers.
NYS Assembly District 99, Kathryn Luciani vs Christopher Eachus
Kathryn Luciani (R) is a proud mother of five; three boys and two girls. She has been a resident of Orange County for over 17 years and has deep ties to the region.
She is a committed community member who has dedicated herself to public service.
Luciani is a member of the Woodbury Town Council and is the founder of We Are Woodbury, a volunteer organization that aims to bring Woodbury residents together to strengthen the community.
“Having recently been elected to the Woodbury Town Board, I was honored when asked to run for the 99th Assembly District seat, currently held by Colin Schmitt. As a mother of five, I believe something must be done on the state level to more effectively use our tax dollars, support law enforcement, and unmask our kids,” her campaign website reads.
She is a champion of parental rights, supports law enforcement and advocates for lowering taxes.
Squaring off against Luciani is Democrat Christopher Eachus. Eachus has been a high school teacher for 40 years and has also served as an Orange County Legislator for 12 years.
“I stand for the core values of the political parties I represent. Our representatives need to stand up for the middle, working class families by backing only legislation which will benefit their constituents and improve their living conditions,” reads his campaign website.
Eachhus is running on a platform that promises to address numerous issues including education, tax reform, economic development, senior living, public health and public transportation, support for veterans and environmental conservation.
A top issue for Eachus is the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. If elected he pledges “to do everything in my power” to assist his constituents in finding solutions to their everyday problems.
Eachus says that, “Our community members deserve experienced and accessible leadership that will be able to deliver for them in Albany and that is what I intend to do.”
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- Bernie Rivers Promises to Enforce the Law ‘Equally and Equitably’ if Elected Orange County Sheriff
NYS Assembly District 100, Lisa LaBue vs Aileen Gunther
Lisa LaBue (R) is a working mother running to represent District 100 in New York’s State Assembly.
“Politicians have forgotten their place. They have forgotten that they work for us, and that they should be asking their constituents what they need and advocate for the people,” she recently told Vision Times, adding that, “They [politicians] should not be telling us how to handle our children, what to put in our bodies, and how taxpayer money should be handled.”
As a working mother of two, LaBue said she knows all too well the burdens that working class folks face day in and day out. “I had to work two jobs and it’s hard to keep up with everything. So I can relate to other working moms who are overworked and trying just to keep a roof over their heads,” she told Vision Times.
When it comes to budgeting and money, LaBue believes zeroing in on corruption and ensuring budgets are being efficiently allocated is key to success. “We are in a state deficit right now, a large one,” she said, adding that, “Politicians keep spending federal funds, but we don’t have anything to show for it.”
When asked about what inspired her to get involved in politics, LaBue said she hopes to make a difference by representing the real working class community. “I am a working mom and I know what it’s like to struggle and have to budget,” she said.
“I don’t have any political money or corporate sponsors and don’t have ties to anyone,” she said, adding, “I don’t have any bureaucrats or other politicians behind me and the only thing funding my campaign are people like me — working people,” she shared.
“That’s what I call grassroots: boots on the ground.”
LaBue is facing off against Democrat incumbent Aileen Gunther.
Gunther entered politics in an unusual way, stepping up and filling a vacancy for District 98 in the State Assembly left by her deceased husband, Jake Gunther in November 2003.
Gunther grew up in Orange County and studied nursing at Orange County Community College. She then furthered her studies in the liberal arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz.
She told Vision Times, “people want healthcare, they want good education, they want to be able to purchase food.”
Securing more mental health services for her community is a top priority for Gunther, particularly for youth.
“I think there should be a nurse in every school, quite frankly, because we have seen an acceleration of children having mental health issues at an earlier age … it’s so important to have that intervention as soon as possible,” she said.
Gunther is running on her record, a record she is proud of. “I have a record that stands for what I stand for,” she said.
Orange County Sheriff, Paul Arteta vs Bernie Rivers
Paul Arteta, currently the Deputy Police Chief in the Village of Montgomery, is on the ballot this November as a candidate for Orange County Sheriff. In an email to Vision Times Arteta detailed the experience he possesses that he would bring to the role if elected.
Prior to his current position, Arteta retired from a 28-year run at the Sheriff’s Office, having moved through the ranks from Corrections Officer in the county jail all the way up to Captain of Patrol.
During his time as a Deputy Sheriff, he founded the Orange County DA/Sheriff’s Office Drug Task force, attended the FBI National Academy, served on the FBI Safe Streets Task Force and was a founding member and three-term president of the Deputy Sheriff’s PBA.
He holds a master’s degree in law enforcement and public safety leadership, and donates his time to the Hudson Valley Honor Flight and Newburgh Armory Unity Center.
“I have also had the honor of serving the people of the Town of Montgomery as deputy supervisor,” Arteta wrote.
If elected, he promises to strive to build constructive, collaborative ties between law enforcement and the public while focusing on developing meaningful and beneficial structural solutions and to remain fiscally responsible.
Arteta is facing opposition by Democrat Bernie Rivers this Nov. 8.
With over four decades of law enforcement experience under his belt, Rivers told Vision Times that he is the best candidate for the job.
Rivers, a life-long learner, graduated in March, 2016 from the State University of New York Empire College after being awarded a bachelor’s degree of Professional Studies in Community and Human Services with a concentration in Criminal Justice.
He began his career in law enforcement fresh out of high school in 1981, serving as a uniformed correction officer. Over the years he has volunteered in many roles, including with the town of Wallkill’s Ambulance Corp and with the Sliver Lake Fire Department.
He also served as a part-time police officer for the towns of Mount Hope, Wallkill, and Chester, in addition to serving for the Montgomery village police department.
From 1992 until 2005 he worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a uniformed Environmental Conservation Police Officer and moved up through the ranks serving as an Environmental Conservation Investigator from 2005 until 2008 and then was promoted, yet again, to a Supervising Environmental Conservation Officer.