The race for the Buffalo-based 141st District Assembly seat pits incumbent Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes against Ricky T. Donovan Sr.
Peoples-Stokes, first elected to the seat in 2002, is running on the Democrat and Working Families lines, while Donovan is on the Republican and Independence party tickets.
If re-elected, Peoples-Stokes said she will continue to focus on economic development, cultural and heritage tourism, health care and education.
“These are critically important,” she said. “The entire medical corridor is in my district. … I think the future of our economy in Western New York is based on [three] things. One is higher-education institutions. The others are health care, as well as cultural tourism.”
Peoples-Stokes noted that she supported UB 2020 legislation and helped secure $120,000 for the Michigan Street African-American Heritage Corridor Commission.
“Cultural tourism is critical to building the economy of Western New York,” she said. “We are hopeful the Michigan Street Commission report from the consultants will be out soon and approved soon by the City Council so we can get $1 million allocated. Once [the corridor] is fully developed, it will spur additional economic development like restaurants and hotels.”
Peoples-Stokes also said she plans “to put a lot of effort to ensure we can get some type of continuing care for Buffalo’s senior community” at the Kensington Heights site, once the former public housing buildings are completely demolished.
The former Erie County legislator lives in Buffalo with her husband, daughter and grandson.
Donovan’s primary concerns center around illegal immigration in the state. Donovan said he “wants to help legal immigrants,” but policies that benefit illegal aliens need to be changed.
A main issue he would focus on, if elected, is revamping college loans for “New York State Americans” at an interest-free rate.
A corrections officer at Albion Correctional Facility for the past seven years, Donovan said that another of his issues is “immigrants who are incarcerated being paid for on New York taxpayers’ dime.”
“I suggest we charge the country [the incarcerated immigrant] came from,” he said.
He also would like to do away with tax breaks that go to immigrants.
“Why should we give [immigrant store owners] tax breaks?” he said. “Put Americans first. Give us homegrown Americans the opportunities before immigrants.”
Donovan said he also would like to see a state-of-the-art trade school come to Buffalo and wants to see electric power from Niagara Falls become more beneficial to Western New Yorkers.
“Why does electricity go from Niagara Falls to New York City and back here? Electricity should come here, which gives us low rates and brings jobs,” Donovan said. “We have to unshackle ourselves from downstate.”
Donovan has been a state committee member for the Independence Party since 1998. From 2009 until 2011, he was the vice chairman of Erie County’s Independence Party, and he recently became executive director of the county party, he said.
A military veteran who served from 1977 to 1988 in the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard, he lives in Lovejoy with his wife. They have four adult children.