Political hopefuls address potential voters at annual SCOPE event

The Yates County Chapter of Shooters Committee On Political Education (SCOPE) held its 15th annual “Meet the Candidates” pig roast Aug. 26 at the Firemen’s Field in Penn Yan; but it wasn’t just the hog that felt the heat at one of the largest political events held each year.

As expected, the candidates for Yates County Republican District Attorney, incumbent Yates County DA Valerie Gardner and Steuben County ADA Todd Casella, traded a few barbs, but is was from an entirely unexpected quarter that the manners of the event took a downward turn.

Radio Host Bob Lonsberry emceed the event, but rather than playing the gracious guest host, he chose to attack upstate Republican legislators like State Senators Tom O’Mara and John DiFrancisco, who were also in attendance. Lonsberry accused the Republicans of making deals with Downstate politicians behind closed doors while laughing at Upstate voters. DiFrancisco, who is planning to run for governor in 2018, had already left the event, but O’Mara heard every word and responded angrily to Lonsberry’s accusations, using several expletives.

In a calmer portion of the speeches, Republicans who will be seeking the party line in races for Yates County Legislature spoke. Tim Cutler and Pat Killen will be challenging incumbents Ed Bronson, Elden Morrison, and Douglas Paddock in the race for four seats representing District I (Jerusalem, Italy, Middlesex).

Incumbent Terry Button and former legislator Rick Willson who will face off against incumbents Timothy Dennis and James Smith in the race for three seats representing District II (Potter, Benton, Torrey) also spoke.

Incumbents Dan Banach, Earle Gleason, and Mark Morris and challenger Carlene Chilson who will be facing incumbent Leslie Church in the race for four District III (Milo) seats also spoke. Also, Supreme Court Judge candidate Hon. John B. Gallagher Jr. addressed the group.

Democratic challengers for Congressman Tom Reed’s N.Y. 23rd seat were also in attendance. Max Della Pia is a 63-year-old former Air Force pilot and officer from Tioga County. Stating his support of the Second Amendment, he brings his experience as a Gulf War veteran, an attorney, a U.S. Senate Legislative Assistant, Commander in New York Air National Guard, and Lockheed Martin Analyst to the congressional race.

Tracy Mitrano is a 59-year-old professor and cyber security consultant from Tomkins County. She stated her appreciation for hunting and hunters. In her platform, she believes in “responsible gun ownership of certain kinds of guns.”

A third candidate, Charles Whalen, also attended, saying he has just begun thinking about running and emphasized that he is only “exploring,” being a candidate.