120th State Assembly District = 129th Assembly District: Democrat Magnarelli Runs Alone


With some new voters and new boundaries, state Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli, D-Syracuse, is seeking his eighth term in November.

“I don’t see a change in my campaign at all or the issues in the campaign,” Magnarelli said.
The new voters and boundaries come as a result of redistricting. For the last 10 years, Magnarelli has represented the 120th State Assembly District. Now, after redistricting, he’s the incumbent in the newly drawn 129th State Assembly District. As of April 14, Magnarelli has no Democrator Republican challengers.

The election is Nov. 6.

Under redistricting, the state’s Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment redraws the boundaries that divide voters into congressional and state legislative districts. It happens every 10 years to reflect population changes found by the national census. Voters will be represented through these new districts for the next decade.

For Magnarelli, not much has changed. He lost several blocks of voters in Syracuse’s Near West Side. Otherwise, both his previous and newly drawn district cover virtually the same areas in Onondaga County: Van Buren, Geddes and parts of Syracuse. Magnarelli’s new district also has 1,234 more people, making for a total of 130,039.

Onondaga County officials have not yet released voter enrollment numbers for the new state assembly districts. But they promise to be similar for Magnarelli. Of the voters in his previous district, 27,636 — or 42 percent — were Democrats, according to the Onondaga County Board of Elections. A total of 16,702 — or 25 percent — were Republicans.

Magnarelli, 63, grew up in Syracuse. He has become a fixture in the local community through his work as an attorney, church member and straightforward politician.

Magnarelli has three adult children in their 30s. As a child, he attended the Church of Our Lady of Pompei/St. Peter in Syracuse. He continues to volunteer at the church, sometimes cooking for picnics or setting up tables with other church members.

Pete Scalzo met Magnarelli at the church more than 50 years ago. Magnarelli, said Scalzo, has always been willing to hear people’s problems during his rise through politics.

“Some politicians don’t talk to you unless they’re looking for something,” said Scalzo, 81, who refers to Magnarelli as “Billy.” “But Billy’s the type that is always friendly, always talking.”

Magnarelli is a graduate of Syracuse University, including a master’s degree from the College of Law in 1973.  Magnarelli joined the U.S. Army Reserve for six years.

“I got a good insight into what military life was about, what sacrifices our veterans made and make today, what it means to be a part of the military,” he said.

As an attorney, Magnarelli’s experience includes banking, wills and real estate. Dealing with those issues benefits him as a politician today, he said, because he often deals with similar issues in the state legislature.

“Even though some people want to take shots at that, being an attorney gives you a well-rounded background to do the job,” Magnarelli said.

From 1996 to 1998, Magnarelli served on the Syracuse Common Council. Magnarelli often took strong stances, said Syracuse city clerk John Copanas.

“He was never afraid to speak his mind,” said Copanas, who has been city clerk for 20 years. “For example, if he was in the minority position or things were not going to go the way he wanted on a vote, he would probably still speak up.”

In 1998, his third year on the Common Council, Magnarelli was elected to the state assembly.

His three biggest priorities today, he said, include: expanding education, creating jobs, and maintaining the health and welfare of residents. In this election, he expects jobs to matter most.

“The economy is the most important thing on people’s minds,” Magnarelli said. “I think they’re worried and concerned, and so am I.”

One way to add jobs, he said, is to create partnerships between universities and businesses. That will make local businesses competitive in a globalized and high-tech economy, he said. 
As for Magnarelli’s campaign finances, the most recent records from theNew York State Board of Elections show that between January 2011 and January 2012:

  • He raised $43,875.
  • Of that total, he raised 91 percent — or $40,075 — in the first six months.
  • Nearly 17 percent of that money came from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, according to followthemoney.org.
  • For example, Sutton Real Estate Company donated $600 to Magnarelli in April 2011. “He’s an honest guy,” said Louis G. Fournier III, president of the company. “He’s hard-working, not real flashy. Our kind of guy.”
  • Magnarelli spent nearly $46,000.
  • By January 2012, Magnarelli had $8,817 left on hand.

As he invests in another campaign this year, Magnarelli plans to use his reputation with the community as a selling point.   
“They know that I’m very straightforward, honest,” Magnarelli said. “Someone who will tell them exactly where I stand and not try to be everything to everybody all the time, which is impossible.”

(Michael Boren is a senior in newspaper and online journalism.)


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