SCOPE hosts Republican legislators and candidates

John Christensen The Chronicle-Express
From left, Assemblymen Bill Nojay and Phil Palmesano, U.S Rep. Tom Reed, Yates DA Republican Primary Candidate Valerie Gardner, State Sen. Tom O’Mara, Yates Legislature Republican Primary candidates Mark Morris, Robert Multer, Taylor Fitch, Robert Clark, Margaret Dunn and Douglas Paddock, and Yates County District Attorney Jason Cook all spoke at the SCOPE Pig Roast Aug. 17.

The Yates County chapter of The Shooters’ Committee for Political Education (SCOPE) hosted more than 230 at their 11th annual Pig Roast Aug. 17, at Firemen’s Field in Penn Yan.

The featured speaker was New York State Assemblyman Bill Nojay, the political commentator from WYSL 1040 AM radio. Nojay also introduced the other politicians and candidates in attendance, including Congressman Tom Reed, State Sen. Tom O’Mara, and Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, each of whom addressed the gathering in support of the 2nd Amendment and repeal of New York’s SAFE Act gun law. Former Representative Randy Kuhl was also there.

Of all the politicians, O’Mara spoke the most forcefully, after having appeared beside Gov. Cuomo during his tour of  Yates County’s wineries earlier this week. He expressed his willingness to support the governor in some matters that O’Mara believes will benefit Upstate and the Finger Lakes, but will always oppose him on others, such as the SAFE Act.

Two other issues he asked the SCOPE members to support were the opposition of the closure of the Elmira Psychiatric Center and the The Monterey Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility in Schuyler County. O’Mara has stated, “I have to continue questioning the wisdom of these actions. I’m strongly opposed to the changes proposed for the Elmira Psychiatric Center, which in my view fail to make any sense at all for New York State fiscally or from a quality-of-care perspective.

“I’ve strongly made the case, together with many other local leaders, that the Elmira Psychiatric Center is an irreplaceable cornerstone of this region’s and state’s mental health system. The Elmira Psychiatric Center has demonstrated an undeniable record as New York State’s most cost effective, efficient, innovative, high quality and successful provider of mental health services.  There simply isn’t a network of community-based organizations across this region to take the place of the Elmira Psychiatric Center.

“The same goes for Monterey. For more than twenty-five years, the Monterey Shock Incarceration Facility has stood as an innovative and successful corrections initiative. The unique blend of counseling, education and treatment at our shock facilities has saved the state over a billion dollars during this time.  The administration and staff of Monterey, past and present, have turned around numerous lives that were once at a dead-end but, today, are productive and successful,” he said.

“I’ll continue to raise all of these concerns and questions, and will keep working with local leaders to try to make the case to the Cuomo administration that there may be more effective ways to achieve the short- and long-term goals we share,” he added.

Monterey was New York’s first “shock” facility.  The facility celebrated its 25th Anniversary in September 2012. Many of attendees added their names to both of O’Mara’s petitions.

Yates County District Attorney incumbent DA Jason Cook and challenger Attorney Valerie Gardner both spoke in support of the ongoing effort to repeal the SAFE Act. Nojay went further, condemning it as an unconstitutional law rammed through the New York State Legislature by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Nojay was also the only politician who openly blamed the Democratic Party, seeming to imply the SCOPE Pig Roast was an exclusively Republican event.

Along with incumbent county legislators Taylor Fitch, Mark Morris, Bob Multer, and Doug Paddock, other local candidates addressed the crowd and spoke of their support for gun rights: Bob Clark of of Benton (legislative district II), Margaret Dunn of Italy (legislative district I).