MICHAEL JOHNSON/Livingston County News
Hornell’s Randy Weaver enters Assembly race
Randy Weaver, a Steuben County legislator and Hornell pharmacy owner, is the Democratic candidate for the newly formed 133rd New York State Assembly District.
His Republican opponent on November 6 Election Day will be the winner in the Sept. 13 Primary — either Bill Nojay or Richard Burke. The 133rd Assembly district includes all of Livingston County, parts of northwestern Steuben County (the City of Hornell, towns of Hornellsville, Dansville, Cohocton, Wayland and Prattsburg) and parts of southern Monroe County (East Rochester, Pittsford, Mendon and Wheatland).
Weaver is in his second four year term in the Steuben County Legislature. He serves on the Health Human Service and Education Committee.
A native of Avoca, Weaver has lived in Hornell for the past 21 years. He attended Herkimer Community College and then the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy. He has been a pharmacist since 1983 and a pharmacy owner for the majority of that career. He owned The Village Pharmacy in Dansville for ten years and, for the last ten years, has owned The Maple City Pharmacy in Hornell.
Weaver and his wife Gay have been married almost 30 years. They have three grown children ages 25, 21 and 19. He is a member of the Elks, Lions, American Legion Amvets, attends the Catholic Church and is a director for the Hornell Chamber of Commerce and Hornell Partners for Growth.
As a member of the county legislator, Weaver has grappled in recent months with the issue of outsourcing dietetics, housekeeping and maintenance services at the health care facility.
“With the state mandates and cuts, we’ve had a $4 million budget gap. We’ve had no choice but to privatize these services in order to keep the rest of the public employees,” he relates.
Serving in Steuben’s legislative form of county government (in contrast with the Livingston County system in which town supervisors are the legislative body), Weaver makes a point to attend assorted town board meetings throughout the county, to stay abreast with town-level issues.
Speaking of his decision to seek a state-level office, Weaver said, “I really enjoy my time in the county legislature, but there is more I’d like to do. I’d like the opportunity to get out there and help a larger number of people. It’s certainly not a job I need, but one I would very much like to have.”
As the lone Democratic candidate for the 133rd District, Weaver will have his ballot petitions delivered to Albany by the July 12 deadline. Two years ago he attempted a ballot appearance against 136th Assembly candidate Phil Palmesano, but found his petitions challenged by the Republican Party on a technicality and consequentially rejected. This time around, he anticipates no such problem.
Very aware that he is running in Republican-dominated territory, Weaver proposes, “If you are Republican and always vote Republican, the Republicans really have no interest in you.
They think they are going to get your vote no matter what they do. People need to remember that the Assembly is run by Democrats. If this district is going to have any voice, they need to be represented by someone who can have the conversation.”
“The Republicans have no real interest in small business or farming,” Weaver believes. “The only interest they have is getting money and spending money. As a small businessman, I know the polices set up by the Republican administrations do not support small business. I can tell you that because I’ve had 20 years experience dealing with their regulations.”
Describing his political stance, Weaver commented, “Being a Democrat, I’m obviously to the left — but not way to the left. I’m more of a centrist. Look at my voting record and you’ll see someone who is fiscally responsible. I do feel strongly about certain social issues, but I am a free thinker and wouldn’t be a puppet of the Democratic kingpins.”
“Everyone agrees government downsizing needs to be done,” Weaver continued, “but with a scalpel, not an ax.”
With a business background in health care, Weaver “speaks the language” when the discussion turns to Medicare reform.
“We have almost too much coverage,” Weaver believes. “We need to get that pared down to something more like a health care plan as opposed to the existing free-for-all plan. There is no other health care plan in the world that pays for over-the-counter medications. The existing co-pay — which doesn’t really have to be paid — is a hidden tax on the provider.”
“The recipient needs to have a little skin in the game — so they think twice about running to their physician or calling the ambulance for the smallest, minor problem.”
“State Medicaid spends over $1 billion dollars a week, and counties are responsible for raising 25 percent of that bill. In Steuben, the increase alone is $1 million a year, which, under the tax cap, takes up all of the allowed increase.”
Weaver is confident that Medicaid expense can be brought under control by having the state take over the growth component, thereby giving the state a much greater interest in aggressive and innovative measures for controlling the cost.
Does Weaver think his downstate Democratic colleague would support such a plan?
“I think so, but if you send a Republican to Albany, he doesn’t even get in the room to have the conversation,” he answered.
On the issue of state aid to education, Weaver is aware of the formula disparities faced by poorer, rural districts.
“We spend a lot on education and I’m not sure if spending more is the answer, but we do need to have the conversation about the formula unfairness — and we do need more input from the local administrative people that run the districts — but once again, we’re back to the issue that most of the wealthy downstate districts are run by Democrats.”
“The rural Republican areas aren’t getting their message in because they are not in the room.”