With new boundaries and now the bulk of Syracuse city, state Sen. David Valesky, D-Oneida, is seeking his fifth term in November.
But he’s campaigning with the same goals in mind, said Jessica DeCerce, speaking on behalf of the campaign. “Senator Valesky’s goals are to continue to represent his constituents in Albany by lowering taxes forworking families, creating jobs by making New York state a friendlier place to do business and working toward making the state government as efficient and effective as possible,” she said.
For the last 10 years, Valesky’s district has been 49th state Senate District. After redistricting, he’s the incumbent in the newly drawn 53rd Senate District. As of April 14, Valesky had no Republican challengers for his seat. The election is Nov. 6.
District lines are redrawn after every ten years, to ensure districts have roughly the same number of people. For Congress, redistricting is a direct result of the Constitution, said Grant Reeher, a political science professor atSyracuse University. For state legislatures, a similar process was put in place by Supreme Court rulings in the 1960s.
“Districts need to have roughly the same number of people, at least per representative in the legislative chamber,” Reeher said.
Valesky’s old 49th state Senate District spanned southern and northeastern portions of Onondaga County including the towns of Cicero, Manlius, Fabius, Tully, Spafford, the eastern portion of the city of Syracuse. It also included northeastern portions of Cayuga County and all of Madison County.
As of April 2010, the 49th state Senate District had 182,144 enrolled voters. Of those, a little more than 37 percent of the district — or 67,888 voters —were registered Democrats. Thirty-two percent of the district — or 59, 422 people — were registered Republicans.
The new 53rd state Senate District gives Valesky the bulk of the city. He loses DeWitt but gains Salina. With redistricting, his area is more compact from Syracuse, through all of Madison County and into just two towns in Oneida County.
Voter enrollment for the new district has not been officially calculated. Political experts expect the district to continue to be mostly Democraticvoters.
SU political scientist Reeher predicts Valesky will have little trouble in his new district.“Valesky has established himself as a reformer and opinion polls indicate that there is still a desire to change certain aspects of the way Albany operates, despite the high approval ratings for the governor,” he said. “So his reformer brand will likely help him with moderate and independent voters.”
Valesky lives in Oneida, in Madison County. He lives with his wife and three sons. From 1989 to 1995, before being elected himself, Valesky worked for State Assembly Majority Leader Michael Bragman. Valesky is now chairman of the Senate Aging Committee; and as a member of the committees on agriculture; banks; cultural affairs; tourism; transportation; and parks and recreation.
Between January 2011 and January 2012, Valesky raised $122,000, according to the New York State Board of Elections website. He had $138,000 leftover from earlier campaigns. Between January 2011 and January 2012, he spent $50,000. As of January 2012, he has $200,000 on hand.
Valesky’s highest individual donations were two donations for $5,000 each. Both donations came from individuals living outside of the district, in New York City.
Both Valesky and state Sen. John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, have been recently criticized by Common Cause of New York, a government watchdog group. Since 2005, just 5.6 percent of Valesky’s came in amounts under $200, according to the group’s analysis. In those same years, the analysis showed 83 percent came from outside Valesky’s district.
(Meghin Delaney is a junior with double majors in magazine journalism and political science.)