Assembly candidate for River District says top down approach to economic development needs to be decentralized

Posted 10/15/22

BY ADAM ATKINSON North Country This Week POTSDAM — Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray says the region’s economy would be best served by decentralizing the top down approach of development …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Assembly candidate for River District says top down approach to economic development needs to be decentralized


North Country This Week

POTSDAM — Jefferson County Legislator Scott Gray says the region’s economy would be best served by decentralizing the top down approach of development often advocated by the state.

Gray is running on the Republican ticket for the 116th Assembly District seat currently held by Mark Walcyzk who is making a run at the state Senate.

The longtime Jefferson County politician will face Conservative Susan Duffy in the upcoming election. Gray and Duffy faced off last June in the Republican primary with Gray taking the win in that preliminary race by just a few hundred votes.

Gray has a long history in politics, having served 20 years on the Jefferson County Legislature, and has been a member of numerous community boards and organizations in that region over the years.


North Country This Week asked Gray how he would seek to promote businesses and the North Country economy if he wins the election on Nov. 6.

“Once elected, it is my objective to decentralize the top-down approach to economic development,” Gray said “We would be better served to bring state dollars to the local level for economic development rather than the current seven county region. We need to empower local elected officials, industrial development agencies, organized labor and members of the educational sector to energize and decide what is the best way to attract and retain businesses.”

“With the correct development package, the Powertrain site in Massena is a perfect example of potential for a chip manufacturer. The site is in close proximity to Clarkson University, the Corning Plant, the international crossing and the allocation of low cost power from NYPA,” the Republican candidate said.

With economic analysts predicting a massive recession on the way, inflation bouncing around on the high side of the curb, Gray feels that the state should be able to be quick on its feet to respond.

“The state should be better prepared for problems to arise. When I am sent to Albany I will fight for a better response to problems. The State of New York needs better leaders that are willing and ready to help people,” Gray said. “In Albany I will be a leader and help New York take a more active role in helping people. I believe we should be prepared to temporarily cap or eliminate a tax on any necessities if there is a rapid price spike.”

Health Insurance

Many St. Lawrence County residents who are employed in low-wage jobs have trouble obtaining health insurance since they don’t qualify economically for free insurance, but the premiums of available policies through NY State Health are too high. The monthly cost coupled with high deductibles puts health insurance out of reach for many of those struggling to make ends meet.

Gray is calling for the state to revisit the health insurance issue.

“Our system needs to re-purpose its mission,” Gray said. “Generally in a program such as this, what often occurs is mission distortion. We need to make sure that the indigent population and the vulnerable are served in the first instance.”

“Oftentimes when a program experiences expansion it loses sight of its initial purpose. We need to ensure low wage earners have accessibility and make sure an affordable plan and deductible is established,” he said.

State responsibility

Gray has been a vocal critic of the state’s handling of its tax-exempt properties in Ogdensburg. Many of the former state psychiatric center buildings there have fallen into disrepair and there are fears that the same will happen to the recently shuttered prison campus.

“The state has an obligation to the city of Ogdensburg to clean up the psych center and OCF.

Then return the property to a developable condition for the city in order to facilitate future growth. That is prime real estate located between Route 37 and the St. Lawrence river. The land is ideal for development with a significant potential for increasing the value and assisting Ogdensburg,” he said.

Roe V. Wade

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the precedent set by the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision which at the time federalized nationwide access to abortion. The decision striking down the earlier case returned abortion rights back to the states.

North Country This Week asked Gray to explain his position on the recent decision.

“The Supreme Court decision gave the states the individual power to decide, returning the issue to the state level,” Gray said. 

“That said, abortion rights in New York State have been codified into law long before Row v. Wade was repealed; therefore, abortion rights will not change. However, I will not support the use of any taxpayer dollars for expanding Medicaid services, especially in the case of out-of-state residents.”

Mandated reporters

The question of whether or not clergy should be mandated reporters when they become aware of alleged sexual abuse was raised recently following a controversy involving Christian Fellowship Center based in Madrid. Clergy have been accused of not reporting past instances of sexual abuse allegedly committed by a congregation member. The state currently does not mandate church leaders to report alleged sexual abuse if they know of it.

“As a faithful Catholic, I strongly believe that a pastor, priest, and minister as part of their duties should absolve people of their sins. That being said, no one possesses the authority to legally forgive people of criminal activity. Therefore, I believe it is in the best interest of the greater good to protect others,” Gray said.

“Justice should be carried out in the first instance and absolved of their sins subsequently,” the candidate said.

Criminal justice

Gray is not a proponent of the state’s highly criticized bail reform policy, which some have argued has led to higher crime rates.

“I unequivocally do not support the current bail policy; it is proven with the concurrence of members from law enforcement to be a deterrent for effective enforcement of laws and public safety,” Gray said. “We need to restore judicial discretion and restore pretrial detention of dangerous and repeat offenders. We need to ensure that there is a reasonable expectation that somebody will be brought to court for processing in a reasonable amount of time and further we also need to repeal the discovery measures. They place a needless burden and limitations on the district attorneys that we trust, in order to file charges on alleged criminal activity in a timely manner.”

Gray calls for continued investment in behavioral health services, including addiction services to help curb criminal recidivism.

“Criminal recidivism is created by several contributory factors that need to be addressed,” he said. We must continue to invest in behavioral health services and increase accessibility to those services, including substance use disorders. We need to ensure educational, vocational and work training programs are available to prepare those who have paid their debt to society. Recidivism is usually the result of people with idle time, access to drugs and lacking hope for a future without any hope people will return to a dark place.”

To learn more about Scott Gray and his campaign platform visit https://www.grayforassembly.com/"https://www.grayforassembly.com.