Voters’ only choice for the 128th State Assembly District in the fall election is likely to be incumbent Sam Roberts, D-Syracuse.
As of early April, Roberts’ aide said he suspects that Roberts will run again, although no official announcement has been made. “We always anticipate the assembly members to run again,” said David Scalisi, the legislative director for Assemblyman Roberts.
As the legislature worked on the new state budget in April, Roberts was unavailable for an interview, according to his staff.
Election Day is Nov. 4, 2014.
Roberts has been an assembly member for two terms. He was first elected to the State Assembly in 2010 to what was then the 119th State Assembly District. Because of redistricting following the census, it was renamed the 128th State Assembly District. It was also reconfigured and now includes most of the neighborhoods in the city closest to Interstate 81, as well as the towns of DeWitt, Onondaga and Salina.
As of April 1, the 128th Assembly District has 74,259 registered voters, according to the New York State Board of Elections. Of those, 44 percent — or 32,972 voters— are registered as Democrats and 25 percent — or 18,342 voters — are registered as Republicans.
Roberts is from the east side of Syracuse. He was an Onondaga County legislator from what was then the 19th County Legislature District for five terms from 1990 to 1999. His political experience in Central New York was the focal point of his previous campaign for the state assembly. In 2012, his cited his main objectives as strengthening the economy, creating jobs and aiding education. The state’s budget deficit was his biggest concern.
Roberts was a member of the United Auto Workers Union for over 20 years. Fellow UAW workers say that throughout Roberts’ career in politics, his blue-collar background has made him a true leader in the party.
“People like Sam don’t forget where they came,” said Paul Schuh, the UAW Region 9 New York State CAP director. “He’s been around the horn. He’s well connected with the political process and particularly the areas he’s lived in.”
In 2010, the UAW gave the largest amount of money to the Committee to Elect Sam Roberts, according to the New York State Board of Elections. In September and October of that year, UAW CAP REGION 9 gave two installments of $3,800 each.
Schuh said the union also will continue to support Roberts in other ways if he needs it. “We’ll work phone banks. Go door to door for him,” said Schuh. “Whatever he needs, we do.”
As of March 2014, the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections show that Roberts has over $16,000 on hand. Here is a snapshot of his campaign finances since he was elected to a second term in 2012:
- The biggest in-kind donation the committee received during this period came from World Lounge in downtown Syracuse. The lounge’s contribution was $1,731.
- Going into the general election in 2012, the committee had $34,500.
- One of the biggest purchases was for a $463 phone bought at Verizon in June of 2013.
- In the January 2014 report, there was a closing balance of $16,037.
Roberts is chair of two State Assembly committees: Task Force on University-Industry Cooperation and the Sub-Committee on Workplace Safety. He is also a member of the Committee on Aging; Committee on Labor; Committee on Libraries and Education Technology; Committee on Small Business; Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development; and Committee on Transportation. Roberts is also a member of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.
David Scalisi, Roberts’ legislative director, said he expects Roberts will announce his candidacy online and in the paper.
(Hannah McDonald is a senior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism, with a minor in economics.)