Syracuse-area voters likely will have one choice when they cast their ballots for the 50th State Senate seat this fall – incumbent Republican John A. DeFrancisco.
But just because he lacks an opponent as of early April 2014 does not mean he will be off the hook from a contest at the polls this Nov. 4.
So far ahead of Election day, said Karen Kiggins of the Onondaga County Board of Elections, “It’s unlikely his competition would declare so early. ”
DeFrancisco is seeking a 12th term in the New York State Senate. In 2012, DeFrancisco won his last election to the seat with a sweeping 86 percent of the vote. In 2012, the only other candidate in the race was Green Party candidate Michael F. Donnelly, who ran a low-profile campaign.
DeFrancisco did not respond to three requests for interviews for this story.
The 50th State Senate District includes part of the northwestern part of the city of Syracuse as well as most of Onondaga County. The district leans slightly Republican. Of the district’s 167,000 voters, 31 percent — or 53,135 — are Democrats; 34 percent — or 57,849 — are Republicans; and 25 percent — or 43,258 — are unaffiliated with a party.
State senators serve two-year terms and are paid an annual salary of $79,000.
DeFrancisco is a Syracuse native. He graduated from Syracuse University in 1968 with a bachelor’ degree in engineering. He has a law degree from Duke University Law School.
In 1975, DeFrancisco started his career in government as an assistant district attorney in Onondaga County. In 1978, he moved into elective politics when he won a seat on the Syracuse City School District board as an education commissioner. He was the board president until 1981. DeFrancisco also spent ten years on the Syracuse Common Council. From 1990 to 1992, he was president of the Common Council. In 1992, DeFrancisco was first elected to the New York State Senate.
He has continued to be a lawyer in his family’s law firm. He has also been an adjunct professor at the SU’s College of Law.
During the 2012 election cycle, DeFrancisco’s campaign raised over half a million dollars in contributions. As of early April, DeFrancisco has just under half a million dollars heading towards fall, according to campaign finance reports filed with the New York State Board of Elections.
Without an official opponent yet for the Fall 2014 election, DeFrancisco’s staff say that his record and experience will be the focus.
DeFrancisco is chair of the state Senate’s finance committee and his staff calls attention to the successful passage of three on-time budgets as notable successes. DeFrancisco has also cited as an accomplishment his sponsorship of the Leaf-Brandi Woods law in 2006. That bill increases penalties on drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence and was named after two victims of drunk drivers.
DeFrancisco’s staff says that he will be approaching this election just like any other.
(Andrew Troast is a senior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism.)