HUNTER — Democrat Betsy Kraat has thrown her hat into the political ring for the 102nd Assembly district.
Kraat, a single mother and social worker, will face off against Republican incumbent Assemblyman Chris Tague, who has held the position since 2018.
“I decided to run because there needed to be somebody to run against Chris Tague,” Kraat said in an interview. “We were getting close to the cutoff for petitioning, and I decided that as a single mother, tenant and social worker, I could bring a lot of unrepresented viewpoints to the legislature.”
Kraat, who lives in Hunter, will run on the Democratic ticket. She did not have a challenger in a primary race.
Among Kraat’s top issues is health care, she said.
“The time has come that we really need to take a look at a public health option,” Kraat said. “COVID has illustrated how private health care is a hindrance and not a help. It kept us from mounting a solid testing approach because the structure wasn’t there. We first had to decide who would pay for testing.”
The state approach to handling the public health crisis worked, but the federal response did not, Kraat contended.
A public health option would also help local residents in making ends meet economically, as well, she said.
“In this district, if people had their health care taken care of, it would make earning your living much better. Many people work several part-time jobs to make ends meet and they need health care,” she said. “If they didn’t have to worry about health care, it would make economic survival much easier.”
Education is another top priority for Kraat.
“Public schools need to be fully funded,” she said. “They don’t have all the money they should have, according to the state, and we need to have more staff, teachers, social workers — small class sizes are tied to better outcomes.”
Kraat also wants to see police officers removed from schools.
“We need to get school resource officers out of schools,” she noted. “We don’t need police officers in schools. We need teachers and social workers. Police get paid good salaries, and that could be used for teachers and social workers instead.”
She is worried about the “school-to-prison pipeline,” the theory that students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are more likely to end up in prison because of harsh school policies.
“School resource officers don’t really make schools safer, they increase the amount of arrests of children,” Kraat said. “A kid with a behavioral problem who pushes a teacher — the police don’t need to enter the picture.”
Kraat is also looking for the 102nd Assembly district to benefit from revenue generated by recreational marijuana, if it is legalized by the state, so farmers can get an economic boost.
“[Gov. Andrew] Cuomo has said that recreational marijuana will be legalized. I would like to see some of that revenue come into the district, such as farmers growing hemp,” Kraat said. “We need a shot in the arm — it would be great to get some of that revenue into the hands of the people living here. When marijuana is legalized and regulated, the state collects all kinds of money, and that could be brought into local counties. I think farmers would love that — farmers take care of us and do a really difficult job for not a lot of money, so if there is a chance for them to take on a very lucrative project, I think they should get that opportunity.”
She also wants a feasible economic path for young people who want to stay in the area, rather than moving elsewhere for career and job opportunities.
Kraat said her Republican opponent, Chris Tague, is ineffective in the Assembly.
“The Assembly and Senate are both controlled by Democrats, so it is a tough place to be for a Republican, so all he is doing is voting ‘no’ on things,” Kraat said. “He can’t really do much and hasn’t taken the initative to do much. We need somebody who can advocate for the people and make things happen.”
Tague said he wants to remain in Albany to oppose what he terms “dangerous” policies.
“One-party rule in New York state speaks for itself. Gov. Cuomo and state Democrats have banded together to pass some of the most dangerous and damaging policies in state history,” Tague said. “From bail reform that is jeopardizing our public safety, to an agenda that rewards and gives preferential treatment to criminals and lawbreakers, to free college for illegal immigrants, to the highest taxes in the nation, the Democrat agenda has hurt upstate New Yorkers.”
Tague added that he and his Republican colleagues hold the governor “accountable each time he’s gone too far.”
Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 3.