State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey has received high marks from a pro-business group, but most of her political rivals in this fall's election say the scores don't reflect reality.
Duprey, a Republican from the Clinton County town of Peru, is locked in a three-way race for the Republican line in New York's 115th Assembly District, which includes Clinton and Franklin counties and four towns in St. Lawrence County. Her opponents are Plattsburgh educator Karen Bisso, who is also on the Conservative Party line, and Cadyville businessman David Kimmel, who lost to Duprey in 2010. They will face off in a primary election next Thursday, Sept. 13. For the Nov. 6 general election, Plattsburgh City Councilman Tim Carpenter is also running, as a Democrat.
Duprey received a 93 on Unshackle Upstate's legislative scored card, which graded state lawmakers on legislative and budget votes during the 2011-12 legislative sessions. Legislators were given a score on a scale of 100, and points were handed out based on whether Unshackle Upstate supported or opposed a bill.
Assemblywoman Janet Duprey
(Enterprise file photo)
Fewer than 30 lawmakers in the Assembly and the Senate scored in the 90s; all of those legislators were Republicans except for Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore. State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, received a 78, and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, received an 88.
Duprey said in a press release she's pleased that Unshackle Upstate has recognized her efforts to promote growth in the North Country.
"In this tough economy we must create jobs to get our families back to work, retain the jobs we have and continue to pass on-time budgets that do not raise taxes or fees while controlling spending," Duprey said in a press release.
Duprey said the state has eliminated a $13.5 billion deficit in the last two years and reduced income tax rates for the middle class "to the lowest level in 58 years." She said more must be done to reduce government red tape and lower taxes.
In the release, Duprey also credits North Country Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Garry Douglas, a member of Unshackle Upstate, for building consensus in the business community on pro-growth legislation.
Bisso panned Duprey's score and ripped Douglas, too.
"The Bisso campaign finds this endorsement not only pathetic but truly shows why this state is in the shape it's in," Bisso's campaign said in an email. "Garry Douglas, who is part of Unshackle Upstate, makes his living by Assembly members shuffling millions of dollars through his agency. Need we remind taxpayers that it was Garry Douglas and Janet Duprey that spent $1.2 million on Pfizer and now they pay no taxes. How about $10 million to rebuild an abandoned rail road to a closed paper mill? Hundreds of millions of tax dollars being wasted on government land purchases, and ridiculous grants is why New Yorkers are shackled."
Kimmel said Unshackle's score "might seem like quite an accomplishment," but he said real-world results don't back it up.
"During Duprey's six-year tenure, unemployment in the North Country has gone steadily up," he wrote in an email. "This is true both before and after the recession. Indeed, we are way above the state and national averages in this Assembly district. The question voters are asking is, 'Where are the Jobs?' By this very practical measure, Duprey is an abysmal failure.
"Leadership is not measured by the number of ideas one has, but rather by one's ability to persuade others to get on board," Kimmel added. "In most cases she is unable to persuade others to embrace her proposals."
Carpenter, the lone Democrat in the race, said the score from Unshackle Upstate is "one of those things that Janet has done that is positive.
"She has had some good ideas but has also done some bad things," he said. "Kudos to her for this success. But her effectiveness can't be judged on this only."
Responding to Bisso's statement, Douglas said the scores were based on legislation relating to "fiscal and reform issues that the job creators of New York needed support on, including some tough votes like pension reform.
"The ranking acknowledges that, and is what it is," he said.
Douglas said his organization and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council are trying to find "a productive new use for the unique scientific research facilities formerly owned by Pfizer at Chazy.
"Apparently, (Bisso) would have preferred they be sold for scrap, which was the impending outcome as of last May, rather than be donated for $1 to the Clinton County (Industrial Development Agency) with some backstop support for maintenance and marketing, to be repaid upon eventual sale."
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