By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Republican candidate for State Assembly Karen Bisso says she is not your typical candidate primed to say all of the politically correct things, and she’s what the North Country needs.
“If I was politically correct, I would say that jobs and the economy are the most important issues,” she told the Press-Republican recently.
“But I am not politically correct. My priority would be to run interference for the North Country, and if they (Albany) did something to affect us, that would be my top priority.”
Bisso, 51, is a 26-year veteran of the City of Plattsburgh School District, teaching special education. She decided to run this year because she wants to give something back to the community.
“I’ve spent a lot of time listening to people, and they are so unsatisfied. They are fed up with government,” she said.
“The federal government seems too far away, but state government seems reachable, and I think people are ready for a change.”
‘CAN’T JUST STAND THERE’
Bisso said she believes in smaller government with less intrusion on people, and she will fight for the North Country against the powerful downstate factions.
“We’ve negotiated our surrender to the downstate liberals. We need to be more assertive and stand up for the North Country,” she said.
“I believe bipartisanship and relationship building are two different things. Bipartisanship is: I do for you, and you do nothing for me. It extends from Long Island to Albany, and that’s it.”
Bisso said that even as a member of the minority in the Assembly she would still make her presence felt.
“We can’t just stand there and do nothing. I’ve heard Janet (incumbent Janet Duprey) say a number of times that her hands were tied. I just don’t believe that. If you tie my hands and feet, at least my mouth will still works,” she said.
‘REIN IN SPENDING’
Bisso said that with her education background she can effectively teach the rest of the state about the unique needs of the North Country and gain support for important issues.
One issue she would like to see addressed is property taxes. High property taxes are linked to government spending, she said, and it needs to be reined in.
Medicaid is one of the most pricey items in the state, Bisso said, costing counties more than 50 percent of their budgets.
“We have the Cadillac of Medicaid, and people come here from across the country to get it,” she said. “I would require people to live here for one year before they be eligible to get Medicaid here.”
Bisso also likened the state’s Regional Economic Development Council’s move to dole out $870 million to regions for economic development to failed federal stimulus plans.
She noted that one plan features $10 million to repair 34 miles of railroad bed that leads to a closed paper mill.
“We could have taken that $870 million and divided it by the 62 counties and given them $14 million each in property-tax relief,” she said.
On the state’s property-tax cap that was enacted last year, based on no more than a 2 percent increase, Bisso says it is a license to raise taxes.
“It’s a guarantee that your taxes will go up by at least 2 percent,” she said.
“People don’t want that, they want 0 percent.”
‘APA TOO RESTRICTIVE’
When it comes to gambling, Bisso said she is concerned about how statewide gambling would affect state and local relations with Native American groups who count on it as revenue.
“But that is an issue I would like to investigate further.”
In her travels of the district, Bisso said, she has heard from many who feel that the Adirondack Park Agency and the Department of Environmental Conservation have become too restrictive.
“I listen to a lot of people, and I hear from many who say their way of life is being affected by this,” she said.
“There are a lot of people inside the Blue Line that are upset.”
‘THAT’S THE JOB’
Although she is an educator, Bisso did not seek the endorsement of the teacher’s union because she does not believe they always have the right interests in mind.
“Education is not the union,” she said. “I believe they are two totally different things.”
She said most of the questions on a union questionnaire designed to help them pick a candidate for endorsement had nothing to do with education.
She also was critical of the union’s support last year of a new Tier VI retirement system and new teacher evaluations, both of which Duprey supported.
“I can’t believe they (union) supported a candidate who voted for both,” she said.
Bisso said she has traveled more than 11,000 miles around the district since announcing her candidacy in February, but she doesn’t think of it as campaigning.
“That’s what the job is. Get out there and listen to the people and see what concerns them,” she said. “That’s not campaigning — that’s getting job experience.”
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REPUBLICAN PRIMARY CHOICES
Voters in the Republican Party will get a chance to select who their candidate will be in the 115th Assembly District race in a primary on Thursday.
The primary is held on a Thursday this year instead of the traditional Tuesday, as state lawmakers did not want the election to conflict with the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Assembly primary features three GOP candidates.
Incumbent Janet Duprey of Peru, who was elected in 2006, is seeking re-election.
She is challenged by David Kimmel of Cadyville and Karen Bisso of Plattsburgh.
The winner will face off against Democrat Timothy Carpenter, a City of Plattsburgh councilor from Ward 1, in the November election.
The new 115th District includes all of Clinton and Franklin counties and four towns in eastern St. Lawrence County. Polls will be open noon to 9 p.m. Thursday for registered Republican voters only.