Despite differences in their political parties, experience and age, candidates for the 146th Assembly District have struck similar stances on a couple issues while offering a choice to voters.
The incumbent, attorney Raymond W. Walter, has his record to run on. The 44-year-old Republican was an Erie County legislator for two years before winning election to his Assembly seat in a special election three years ago.
His challenger, Democrat Steven G. Meyer, 22, is putting his 2013 American University degree in political science to work by running for political office for the first time.
The district includes Amherst and Pendleton. In addition to their major party endorsements, Meyer is on the Working Families party line, while Walter has the Conservative, Independence and Stop Common Core lines.
Walter said he has been part of historic on-time budgets, helped support historic economic development efforts Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has undertaken in Western New York, lowered income taxes and business taxes to the lowest point in decades, increased aid to schools and fought for funding for the developmentally disabled.
“I really just want to make sure Western New York thrives and prospers and everybody can live, work and raise their families here for generations,” Walter said.
That’s similar to a goal of Meyer, 22, who said the people he went to Williamsville East High School with him have moved away to find jobs.
“For me, growing up here in Western New York, I always knew that this would always be home for me,” he said.
Meyer said he worked for former Reps. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Michael A. Arcuri of Utica, and for the National Association of Counties. He also was a European Union legislative analyst for Covington & Burling, an international law firm, and created the State Legislative Awareness Project, a website to provide information and resources on the Assembly.
Meyer would reform the state ethics code, consolidate tax brackets and enact campaign finance reform. He said he is not accepting contributions from large corporations or lobbyists. But Walter points out the state Democratic Committee, which receives money from large special interest groups, is spending money on Meyer’s campaign.
“There’s nothing wrong with a party supporting its candidate,” Meyer said.
He said he would be against the Common Core standards, but doesn’t want to lose federal aid. He also supports the Women’s Equality Act, and a video of him at Walter’s office challenging him on the act was placed on YouTube.
Walter, who is not in the video, said he supported nine of the 10 platforms in the act, but believes the 10th would expand abortion, which he opposes.
Walter said he would “put the brakes” on Common Core in schools that are having trouble implementing it, and he believes the program could have been handled better.
Walter called the SAFE Act, the state’s gun control law, flawed and he voted against it, but said the idea of dealing with people with mental health issues is a good one.
“I was opposed to the way it was rolled out in the middle of the night,” Walter said.
Meyer said while he does not like the way the bill was rushed through, he would have voted in favor of it.