What began as a discussion about healthcare morphed into a debate about geography, and is now spilling over into this fall’s political landscape.
The candidates vying for state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi’s coveted 119th Assembly District seat are talking about their positions on Utica’s new downtown hospital, after one candidate went public with his position on Thursday.
On this polarizing issue, the four Assembly candidates land on both sides of the downtown hospital debate.
Republican Dennis Bova, a surgical technician by trade, held a press conference Thursday where he came out vehemently against the downtown location. He says it’s because he’s knocked on thousands of doors while campaigning and it’s what the people opening those doors want.
“The overwhelming majority say they want a new facility, but they don't want it downtown. They don't want to absorb the outrageous tax hike we're gonna have to have,” Bova said.
The candidate who Bova will face in a Republican primary election next month has a similar view. Recent Utica College MBA graduate Frederick Nichols worries that the downtown location could mean a financial burden Uticans and Oneida County residents can’t shoulder.
“Building it at St. Luke's, they have surface parking. So we don't have to pay $43 million for a garage,” Nichols said.
Democrat Christopher Salatino, who owns a claims adjusting business, supports the downtown location.
“This happened long before I was involved in this and that decision was already made, so now we have to embrace it and we have to make sure that we’re going to provide the people of this community top-notch healthcare,” Salatino said.
NEWSChannel 2 also reached out to Democratic candidate Marianne Buttenschon, who wrote in an email response that she won’t risk losing more than $300 million in state funding.
“The more we disagree, the more likely it is that the State of New York will walk away,” Buttenschon said.