Thursday, February 2

Candidates for state assembly, Oneida County sheriff discuss plans if elected | Politics

UTICA, N.Y. – Candidates in two upcoming races were at New Forest Cemetery in Utica Tuesday to discuss their plans should they be elected.

Jim Scarchilli, who is running for Oneida County sheriff on the We The People line, says he would bring back the inmate work program to help address neglected properties like the cemetery.

“Funding for this program again could be coming from some of that money that was allocated to Oneida County. It was $44 million from the ARPA, the American rescue plan act so I believe the government has given that money in stages so I can’t wait to tap into it and use it toward the positive program as far as the inmate work release,” Scarchilli said.

Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol says there are logistical issues with allowing inmates to work on certain properties.

“We have a long track record of utilizing incarcerated persons for projects on municipal properties. Unfortunately, a project of this magnitude would require commercial-grade equipment, on which inmates are neither trained nor authorized,” Maciol said. “The inmate work program is currently paused, due to both a staffing shortage and shortage of low-level sentenced inmates, due to bail reform, and they are the only ones eligible for the program.”

Republican John Zielinski, who is running against Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon in the 119th District, says the state Department of Corrections should also resume its outside work program to help with these kinds of community projects.

“The fact that this program is not being operated is yet another example of the failure of state government to properly manage the $220.5 billion budget. Up 27% up from two years ago for the benefits of its citizens,” Zielinski said. “If this program was operating, as it should be, you would not see the mess behind us since at least the maintenance can be done while the cemetery reorganizes.”

Buttenschon said the state has little to do with the management of the cemetery, but she has been working to address community concerns after the board abandoned the property earlier this summer.

“This is a non-profit board, they, not the state of New York, are making decisions governing the cemetery. They were aware of the programs. My office facilitated a meeting with the New York State Department of State Division of Cemeteries to bring new leadership to the cemetery to make those decisions,” said Buttenschon.

Both candidates will face their incumbent opponents on Election Day on Nov. 8.

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