Ball, Oberacker discuss infrastructure, farm labor thresholds ahead of election day

Both candidates are vying for the rural 51st Senate District
This is a recurring recording of WBNG's 6pm newscast.
Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 8:36 PM EDT
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(WBNG) - On Nov. 8, Democrat Eric Ball and Republican Peter Oberacker, who is the incumbent elected in 2020, will be on the ballot for the 51st Senate District of New York State.

“Having kind of gone through already my freshman year as a legislator, I think I bring a certain skill set that is not only needed, I would almost say desired in Albany anymore,” Oberacker told 12 News.

However, Ball says his resume offers a fresh perspective.

“I’ve been serving my local government as a village trustee going on the fourth year now,” said Ball. “I see a big disconnect in our state government. I think our rural area doesn’t get enough advocacy.”

Both candidates see infrastructure as an issue but have different plans on how the problems regarding infrastructure should be addressed. Ball told 12 News that physical structures in his district need the funding to be repaired and it’s one of the issues he is focusing on.

“There’s a lot more to cover, a lot more areas that need just the fundamental investment for culvert repair,” said Ball. “Applying for funding for these projects can take several years. Getting funding for that, being qualified for funding for that is a whole hurdle in itself. I think that process needs to be better streamlined for smaller communities.”

Oberacker, also focused on multiple infrastructure-related issues, stressed awareness about internet access.

“A lot of it has to do with the service, if you will. The perceived service that is into these blocks of areas,” said Oberacker. “Where they’re really not getting the service we think they are. We need to get and really discern what is being serviced there and what is not. Actually finding out in those census blocks who has it and who doesn’t have it. And then not only that, but at what level do they have it.”

The 51st Senate District is a rural area. Both candidates addressed farmers, citing the overtime threshold which will be lowered from 60 to 40 hours in 2032. Some republicans worry this could put some farms out of business because they will not be able to afford employees. Oberacker agrees with this sentiment.

“It has a phase-in period, which to some may sound like a reasonable request,” said Oberacker. “But one of the issues that’s specific to that is especially with those that grow fruit. What they’re going to find is that those workers that are there are there to try to maximize as much many hours as they can to work. They’re going to be going to areas now that would allow that [such as] Pennsylvania.”

Ball said he would like to see this issue revisited in Albany.

“I do believe, as I said, the interest of farms and the interest of workers aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Ball. “We need to have a pragmatic approach to make sure our farms do not go under over burdens they can’t meet and then of course or laborers have protections as well.”

In New York, polls close at 9 p.m. on election day, which is Nov. 8. To learn more about each candidate’s platform and priorities, you can head to Oberacker’s website and Ball’s website.