Skar­ta­dos faces chal­lenge in 104th race

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Paul Kirby pkirby@free­manon­line.com paulat­free­man on Twit­ter

A mar­riage and fam­ily coun­selor is at­tempt­ing to un­seat a vet­eran law­maker from an Assem­bly seat rep­re­sent­ing the 104th Dis­trict.

In­cum­bent As­sem­bly­man Frank Skar­ta­dos, 60, D-Mil­ton, is pit­ted against New­burgh res­i­dent Wil­liam Banuchi Sr., 67.

The 104th Dis­trict in­cludes the town and city of New­burgh, the city of Bea­con, the city of Pough­keep­sie, and the Ulster County towns of Marl­boro, and Lloyd.

Wil­liam Banuchi Sr.

Banuchi, who is a po­lit­i­cal new­comer, has lived in New­burgh for 20 years. He will ap­pear on the Con­ser­va­tive and Re­form party lines on Nov. 8 bal­lot.

A pas­tor and mar­riage and fam­ily coun­selor. Banuchi was ed­u­cated at Berean Col­lege of the Assem­blies of God. He has been mar­ried for 47 years and has two adult chil­dren.

He is a mem­bers of the New York Faith & Free­dom Coali­tion, Na­tional Chris­tian Coun­selors As­so­ci­a­tion, Elim Fel­low­ship, Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion, and the Orange County Oath­keep­ers.

Banuchi, who is en­rolled as a voter as a mem­ber of the Con­ser­va­tive Party, says he is par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about the lack of ethics re­form within the state Leg­is­la­ture, which has been rocked by a se­ries of scan­dals, in­clud­ing in­dict­ments and con­vic­tions of law­mak­ers.

“The chronic fail­ure of cur­rent law­mak­ers to pass mean­ing­ful ethics re­form is sim­ply the nat­u­ral out­growth of an in­sti­tu­tional cul­ture that has dis­placed a God-cen­tered stan­dard of moral­ity with a sec­u­lar hu­man­is­tic stan­dard where each one does what is right in his own eyes to his own ben­e­fit,” Banuchi said in an email.

Banuchi said the orig­i­nal 13 colonies were es­tab­lished and grounded in faith.

Of­fi­cials then stip­u­lated “in their char­ters that in or­der to hold pub­lic of­fice one had to at­test to a be­lief in God, the Scrip­tures and in the sys­tem of eter­nal re­wards and pun­ish­ment.

“Our founders be­lieved that man left to his own de­vices was not wor­thy of the pub­lic trust” Banuchi said.

“As we have sys­tem­at­i­cally re­moved a God con­scious­ness from our gov­ern­ment we have made room for more and more in­sti­tu­tional cor­rup­tion so that now cor­rup­tion is the cul­tural at­mos­phere in which gov­ern­ment op­er­ates,” said Banuchi, who added that God-fear­ing men and women need to be elected to gov­ern­ment.

If elected, Banuch said, he would bring back “con­sti­tu­tional gov­ern­ment rooted in our Judeo-Chris­tian world view, a reaf­fir­ma­tion of our na­tional motto, and the prin­ci­ple that our rights are not granted “by the gen­eros­ity of the state but by the hand of God.”

Banuchi said that he would work to re­duce gov­ern­ment bu­reau­cracy and the role of gov­ern­ment “in the lives of our cit­i­zens.”

He says pri­or­i­ties would be re­duc­ing taxes, mak­ing ed­u­ca­tion some­thing that bet­ters the lives of chil­dren, and in­creas­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity by de­creas­ing reg­u­la­tions.

Frank Skar­ta­dos

Skar­ta­dos has been elected to four two-year terms in the Assem­bly. His name will ap­pear on the Demo­cratic, Work­ing Fam­i­lies, and In­de­pen­dence party lines.

Skar­ta­dos, who has one child, earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from SUNY New Paltz and a master’s de­gree in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies from the State Univer­sity of California at Sacra­mento. He is a mem­ber of the Hel­lenic or­ga­ni­za­tion and the NAACP.

Skar­ta­dos said law­mak­ers have made some progress on ethics re­form, but more needs to be done.

“I was glad to see we are mov­ing for­ward on a law to dis­al­low the pen­sion of an elected of­fi­cial who is con­victed of cor­rup­tion, but that did not go far enough,” Skar­ta­dos said. “The (limited li­a­bil­ity cor­po­ra­tion) loop­hole that al­lows cor­po­ra­tions to do­nate large sums of money to can­di­dates should have been closed up and capped to equal the stan­dard cor­po­rate max­i­mum of $5,000.”

Skar­ta­dos said “there should be lim­its placed on earned in­come of leg­is­la­tors who work in en­vi­ron­ments that cre­ate a con­flict of in­ter­est or a pay-for-play sit­u­a­tion — such as law firms.”

“Most im­por­tantly, the state needs to es­tab­lish cam­paign fi­nance re­form to take spe­cial in­ter­ests out of the pock­ets of leg­is­la­tors,” Skar­ta­dos added.

Dur­ing his Assem­bly ten­ure, Skar­ta­dos says in a state­ment, he ini­ti­ated 40 bills “that im­prove the en­vi­ron­ment, crim­i­nal jus­tice reforms, con­sumer pro­tec­tion, vet­er­ans ben­e­fits, busi­ness reg­u­la­tion re­form, fam­ily court re­form, and li­brary elec­tion re­form.”

Skar­ta­dos says he se­cured mil­lions of dol­lars for strug­gling schools in Marl­boro, High­land and Pough­keep­sie.

He also claims suc­cess in get­ting state fund­ing for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to: pur­chase fire trucks, plows, and po­lice cars; pur­sue en­vi­ron­men­tal projects, such as the Hud­son Val­ley Rail Trail; and im­prove li­braries, in­clud­ing the newly built Lloyd Li­brary.

Skar­ta­dos said he has se­cured money for non-profit grounds such as soup kitchens, New­burgh Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, New­burgh Safe Har­bor’s Park. He has also taken up causes, he says.

“I am lead­ing the fight in the Hud­son Val­ley against the Coast Guard plan to al­low oil/barge an­chor­ages in the Hud­son River and the Pil­grim Pipe­line along the Thruway, con­nect­ing to the Hud­son River at New­burgh,” Skar­ta­dos said.

Skar­ta­dos said the “ur­ban cen­ters” of New­burgh, Pough­keep­sie, and to some ex­tent Bea­con, need at­ten­tion. He said they are “strug­gling with poverty and all of its ram­i­fi­ca­tions, such as crime, ed­u­ca­tional chal­lenges and aban­doned houses. “Our three towns have is­sues that cen­ter on the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of farms, as well the con­di­tion of our roads and bridges, so crit­i­cal for our town com­muters,” Skar­ta­dos said.

Skar­ta­dos said some­thing needs to be done about rising school taxes and that job cre­ation is im­por­tant.

“To­ward that end, I voted in each state bud­get to in­crease eco­nomic devel­op­ment funds that have ben­e­fited our re­gion. . ,” Skar­ta­dos said.,

Skar­ta­dos said he has fought to re­form Com­mon Core ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards.

The as­sem­bly­man also says he has an open door pol­icy. “On a day-to-day, per­sonal level, my of­fice door is al­ways open to any­one who needs the kind of help that our con­stituent service spe­cial­ists can pro­vide,” Skar­ta­dos said. “We as­sist peo­ple with human, life-cop­ing prob­lems of all types that ex­tend be­yond is­sues in­volv­ing state gov­ern­ment.”

PRO­VIDED

Wil­liam Banuchi Sr., left, and state As­sem­bly­man Frank Skar­ta­dos

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