NEW HARTFORD, N.Y. (WKTV) - Oneida County voters next week for the first time will elect a 23-member county legislature as opposed to a 29-member board.
The newly-drawn districts mean that in some, current, sitting legislators will have to run against each other. In the newly-redrawn 15th district in New Hartford, a first-year incumbent will face off against a 24-year incumbent.
"I've got to tell you I think it's wonderful that the people in New Hartford have a choice this year and I think they have a distinct choice," says 12-term incumbent James D'Onofrio, a Republican.
"I think we both have two totally different records; makes us two totally different candidates for the voters to chose," says first-year incumbent David Gordon, a Democrat.
The candidates say they're hearing the same concerns from constituents as they go door to door: flood relief and high property taxes.
"I was the one that initiated and actually created the $500,000 the county of Oneida is going to allocate for the towns for storm water management," says D'Onofrio.
"Couple main issues are flood mitigation costs in New Hartford and I've worked very hard to try to secure some funding for county and state," says Gordon.
Both candidates also agree that it's a desire to bring about positive change in the communities in which they live that drives them to the grueling campaign trail.
"I get a true satisfaction out of helping people on a personal and individual level and quite honestly that's our main job. Our main job is to take phone calls from people that really are in need...everybody knows that I'm a hands-on legislator. I'm not afraid to change a person's sump pump during a flood, I've been known to spread topsoil, I clean out ditches on a regular basis and that's our job and that's the reason why I feel that I would like to continue doing this," says D'Onofrio.
"My reason for running is really to make a difference in the community. I think everybody has a responsibility to do something in their community that has an impact on future generations... I'm concerned about my district. I'm concerned about the people who inhabit it. I have friends, family, neighbors, co workers and we all talk about a lot of the same issues," says Gordon.
D'Onofrio has the Republican, Conservative and Independence party lines on election day; Gordon has the Democratic line.
Fewer legislative districts means that the next group of Oneida County Legislators will go from representing slightly more than 8000 constituents to slightly more than 10,000.