BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. -- With 13 years of service with the Broome County Sheriff's Office under his belt, 52nd District State Senate Candidate Fred Akshar said he knows first-hand how bad the heroin problem is. The Republican calls it a public health emergency and has a plan focused on prevention, enforcement and treatment to put a stop to heroin-related deaths.
"We're turning people away at a door of a treatment facility at a hospital to die. It's that simple," Akshar said.
Akshar said if elected, he will fight for funding so that places like UHS and other hospitals throughout the region can provide more beds and services to those who are addicted.
"Whatever number that is, whether it be funding, beds, then we need to do it. Period. Plain and simple. The alternative has a cost and it's costing people's lives," said Akshar.
He said the funding is there and as senator he will get it to where's it's needed most.
"If state government is allowing a $420 million tax abatement to Hollywood movie producers to shoot movies in New York City, then we can fund this problem. The state's budget is $150 billion. We can find the money that's needed throughout this state," said Akshar.
As for prevention, Akshar said it's important to raise awareness and educate. Alexis Pleus' son died of an overdose last year she supports Akshar's plan.
"We need to educate parents to take great caution in allowing doctors to prescribe their children opiate medications when they go to the doctor," Pleus added.
Akshar said current laws aren't keeping pace. He promises to sponsor legislation to allow prosecutors to seek murder charges when a dealer's drugs are linked to an overdose death.
"I'm not talking about an addict who is giving a bag to a friend. I'm talking about large-scale drug dealers who are polluting and poisoning our communities," Akshar said.
He promises he's prepared to lead this battle against heroin abuse to prevent additional tragedy and loss.
In response to Akshar's plan, Time Warner Cable News received the statement from his Democratic opponent, Barbara Fiala.
"I agree we cannot arrest our way out of this problem and my plan addresses this crisis comprehensively. I believe that I am the more qualified candidate to deliver on funding for treatment and prevention programs and I am laser focused on a root problem of drug addiction, which is a lack of good jobs and economic opportunity in the Southern Tier," said Fiala.