LISBON - Farmer and real estate broker Russell J. Finley has thrown his hat in the ring in the contest for the 116th Assembly District that runs from Massena to Watertown along the St. Lawrence River.
A registered Conservative, Mr. Finley owns a beef farm in Lisbon in addition to Finley Real Estate.
I consider myself a political outsider. Im not a believer in asking anyones decision to do something, he said.
Originally from Ogdensburg, Mr. Finley spent the years between 1984 and 1992 in Lake Placid as a member of the U.S. bobsled team, racking up more than 6,500 runs.
Mr. Finley will be challenging Democratic incumbent Addie J. Russell, Theresa. Republicans John Humphrey of Brownville and John Byrne of Cape Vincent have also announced intentions to run.
Mr. Finley said his campaign isnt about personalities. This isnt about Addie Russell at all. This is about affording people choices. As a registered Conservative I have no ties to either of the two major parties.
So far Mr. Finley has announced four major issues he hopes to tackle if elected in November.
Mr. Finley said he wants to repeal the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act that was signed into law in 2013 and implemented tighter restrictions on ammunition purchases, tougher penalties for people who help felons get guns and harsher sentences for people who murder first responders.
The law also put into effect a broad definition of the term assault weapon and banned the sale of those weapons in the state.
This is about the constitutional damage that the SAFE Act does, Mr. Finley said, adding that he has spent the past several months organizing rallies across the state in opposition to the law and has marched on Albany with others who are opposed.
Mrs. Russell voted in favor of the law last year.
Mr. Finley said he is also concerned that the law will ultimately cause the state to lose jobs in the gun industry.
Mr. Finley is also opposed to Common Core, a national education standard encouraged by the administration of President Barack H. Obama.
The Common Core has got to go. There is nothing good about this, he said. Mr. Finley said he wants to see the state return to the way things were prior to the introduction of Common Core when the state facilitated its own Regents testing.
In addition to the Common Core, Mr. Finley also wants to see the Annual Professional Performance Review, APPR, done away with.
The state-governed teacher evaluation process is unfair, Mr. Finley said, and eats up a ridiculous amount of time.
The final platform of his campaign is opposing the recently announced initiative by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to provide college classes to prisoners.
One of the reasons I came out today was this ridiculous idea of the governor to educate prisoners. As a taxpayer and as someone who paid for his own college education, I am highly offended that a criminal, someone who has committed a crime against society, is rewarded, he said.
Mr. Finley said he thinks the ultimate goal of Mr. Cuomos plan is to close down prisons in Northern New York.
I fear that this program could economically destroy Northern New York, he said.
He said his campaign strategy will involve going door-to-door with voters, attending rallies and talking with whoever will listen.
Wherever people are gathered I intend to be. If they want to talk to me, then lets talk, he said. Its all about changing the direction.