Candidates running in the Democratic Primary for New York's 22nd Congressional seat will face off in a debate Tuesday on Spectrum News 1.

The district represents all of Onondaga and Madison counties, as well as parts of Cayuga, Cortland and Oneida counties.

Now held by Republican Brandon Williams, Cook Political Report has named the seat one of the most vulnerable in the country, as redistricting seemingly shifted the seat left.

The 22nd helped Republicans secure control of the House or Representatives in 2022, and will likely play a big role in House control this year.

At the same time, it is a district in the midst of two massive development projects that intermingle local, state, and federal resources, with candidates preparing to juggle the federal role in those local issues, as well as broader national concerns.               

State Senator John Mannion and DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood both told Spectrum News 1 their backgrounds make them the best Democrat to take on Williams.

Mannion is a former teacher.

“If you're calm, they're calm. If you’re in chaos, they’re in chaos. So as a teacher, you have to be prepared. You have to be focused,” he said.

Klee Hood served as an officer in the Air Force for six years.

“The military taught me very quickly how to lead folks when you don’t come from the same background,” she said.

Topping the list of issues in the race is abortion. Klee Hood is clear that she doesn’t support anything that gets between a woman and her doctor, and argued that national protection is needed.

“A federal abortion ban will affect New York state because federal legislation overrides state legislation,” she said.

Mannion has indicated support for New York's current law, requiring a doctors approval for abortion after 24 weeks and is firm in his support for abortion rights overall.

“We need to really protect a women’s right to choose across this country,” he said.

Both are staring down decisions about military aid for the first time. On the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, Mannion insists we must support allies, but said peace is the desired outcome.

“We need to support them,” he said of Ukraine. "When it comes to the other conflict, we have a unique relationship with Israel. We have supported them. They are the only democracy in the Middle East. We need to continue to support them,” he said.

Klee Hood said her military experience helps guide her similar position on the conflicts.

“I do support continued aid to Ukraine and our strategic allies in the Middle East, Israel, as we continue to ensure that democracy is upheld,” she said.

As for the I-81 community grid project, Klee Hood has faced criticism for voting in favor of DeWitt joining a lawsuit that delayed work on the project. She chalks it up to a misunderstanding over how extensive the lawsuit was, not a lack of support for the grid, the premise of which she says she has always supported.

“Once I learned that the lawsuit could hold up the entire I-81 project, I became vocal and made sure the town no longer had an active role in it,” she said.

Mannion touts his experience working on both projects, and supports the community grid. On managing the rollout of Micron’s new semiconductor plant in the town of Clay, he says his record speaks for itself.

“It takes leadership to make sure we get these things right,” he said. “There was no state incentive program to help make sure we were competitive and could draw one of these chip plants to the region. I was the prime cosponsor on the green chips legislation.”

Klee Hood stressed that whoever is elected needs to put pressure on Micron to protect the environment – and hire local. 

“I want to ensure that qualified Central New Yorkers get first dibs at the jobs as they are being rolled out,” she said. "I don't wan't to see an influx of new folks when we already have a qualified workforce here in Central New York." 

Both candidates say inflation, affordability and climate issues are other issues they feel Congress needs to work harder to address.