Voters in Oneida County will hit the polls on Tuesday to decide who will run the county for the next four years.
Republican incumbent Anthony Picente has been in the position for 13 years. He is being challenged by Democrat and former County Legislator Michael Hennessy. When asked about the issues in Oneida County, both candidates have different approaches to what they believe should be done in the community.
Hennessy has spoken frequently about reducing the cost of government through limiting spending and reducing taxes.
"My goal is to cut a half-point off sales tax, down from eight and 3/4 down to 8 and 1/4. And a five to eight percent cut in property tax over the next four years,” Hennessy said.
But Picente argues these cuts aren’t realistic, saying a strong portion of the county’s budget is mandated by the state of New York. He says his budgets have produced a surplus throughout his time in office, while holding the line on property tax.
"For seven straight years, we have had zero increase in the property tax levy. That talks a great deal about what our budgets have been about, while we have not cut services,” Picente said.
One of the biggest points of contention between the candidates is on the issue of the Downtown Hospital in Utica. Picente is a vocal supporter of the project, arguing it is pivotal for the healthcare of the county.
"The aspect of having a brand new, state-of-the-art, properly situated and laid out hospital system — with one building — is essential for the future healthcare of this area," Picente said.
But Hennessy says, if elected, the hospital will not be located downtown.
“[The] Downtown Hospital will be moved up to St. Luke's Campus. They have a nursing home, they have a rehab center right there, it makes a lot of sense to keep it there," Hennessy said.
While the candidates disagree on how to address certain issues, they both agree the Nexus Center in Utica will be beneficial to the community.
County Executive Picente will be on the Republican, Conservative and Independence lines. Hennessy is running on the Democratic, Libertarian, and Serve America Movement lines.