Legislator Profile: Mary Kuhn for District 7
In our profile series, we’ve met three candidates running for county legislator. These include Heather Waters for District 10, Jana Rodgers for District 5, and Matt Johnson for District 3. Today we will be meeting with Mary Kuhn, the incumbent legislator from District 7.
Mary Kuhn was elected to office in 2019, winning a Democratic primary and defeating Republican challenger Courtney Hills. She represents District 7, which includes a large portion of Dewitt, parts of East Syracuse, some of Eastwood, as well as parts of the Northside and Eastside of the city. It’s a very gerrymandered district!
Along with being a legislator, Mary is the mother of 2 sons as well as a retired clinical social worker and small business owner. Being in the legislature, Mary has been most concerned with the lack of transparency in County government.
With her re-election and the election of a Democratic majority, she hopes the Legislature will engage with and be more visible and responsive to the citizens of Onondaga County.
Read our conversation with Mary below:
Since serving in the legislature, what are you most proud of leading for District 7 and the entire county?
I am most proud of having a platform to represent the citizens, not just those of District 7, but of the County as a whole. To address the clear lack of legislative transparency, I have done my best to get information out via social media, in letters to the editor, and in opinion pieces.
I have also tried - unsuccessfully so far - to have Legislative sessions effectively live-streamed and available on the Legislature’s website. Committee meetings - where the work of the Legislature happens - are still not live-streamed. I will continue to work hard to make this a reality.
I’m also proud of sponsoring the only local law passed this session on a bipartisan vote of 15 - 2. It took the effort of several Democrats well over a year, but it was finally placed on this June’s agenda. Despite the fact that it has become law, the County Executive has yet to sign it. I’m still working on this. This law allows Developers of new or rehabilitated properties to secure loans for 100% of the cost, no money down, for clean energy items such as HVAC systems, energy-efficient lighting, insulation, etc. Information about this program can be found at www.eicpace.org
Why do you feel it is important to Flip The Leg? What kind of changes might that bring for the people of Onondaga County?
Flipping the Legislature is essential if the people of the county are to have more of a voice in how their tax dollars are spent. Live-streaming of all committee meetings and Legislative sessions would become a reality. Monthly Legislative sessions are held at 1 PM on the first Tuesday of the month. Committee meetings generally occur in the mornings.
A Democratic majority could introduce a charter change, moving the session and committee meetings to evenings so citizens could participate. This would also allow a greater number of interested citizens to consider running for office. Currently, you’d need to have a job that allows the flexibility to take time off during the day, or be retired. Diversifying the Legislature would allow for a wider variety of voices to be represented.
A Democratic majority should also consider the reintroduction of Fair Maps legislation to end gerrymandering and remove politicians from redrawing Districts lines every ten years. Citizen-led redistricting was recently defeated by the Republican majority. This needs to be revisited.
The recent party-line vote (11 Republicans in favor, 6 Democrats against), to allow $20 million of the American Rescue Funds to be essentially given to the Onondaga County Industrial Development Association was in my opinion, a blatant misappropriation of funds. OCIDA projects are eligible for sales, mortgage, and real property tax exemptions and property tax abatement, through PILOT agreements. Had Democrats been in the majority, this would have been blocked.
A Democratic majority would prioritize local small businesses and work to ensure that sufficient funds are made available to departments that serve our citizens, such as those tasked with providing economic security, public health, mental health, and addiction services.
What is your favorite local summertime activity?
What’s not to love about summer in Central New York? We enjoy visiting our many amazing County parks. We look forward every year to attending the downtown Arts and Craft fair.
Jazz in the City brings us to our many different city neighborhoods and we love dining out and enjoying all the beauty of Skaneateles Lake. Of course, walking on any of the Erie Canal paths is not only a summertime activity but is something we enjoy year-round.
Mary Kuhn speaking at an event with Rachel May (left), Ben Walsh (right), and other local politicians and community leaders
Mary is prepared to continue fighting in the legislature for the constituents of District 7 as well as the people of Onondaga County! See below for a few key ways you can get involved with Mary’s campaign:
Volunteer! Check out Mary’s campaign website at www.marykuhn.com and click on the “Get Involved” page to see how you can support Mary in a way that works best with your schedule
Donate! Give monetary support to Mary and her campaign through this link
Stay engaged! Check out Mary on Twitter and Facebook. Here you can find live updates on Mary’s campaign as well as information about the Onondaga County legislature and the issues impacting your community.
Thank you to Mary Kuhn and her entire campaign team for participating in this profile and leading the way forward in District 7. Be on the lookout for future profiles coming out soon!
Read more about Mary here:
Mary has represented District 7 in the Onondaga County legislature since 2019. When in office, Mary has sponsored key legislation and voted on many issues facing Onondaga County. She has called for criminal justice reform, policies to address the climate crisis, and fought for transparency in the legislature. Mary has also co-sponsored a law to end gerrymandering in Onondaga County, which can be made possible if Democrats flip the legislature this election.
Outside of the legislature, Mary volunteers with the League of Women Voters, Jewish Family Services/Meals on Wheels, the CNY Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition, Onondaga Votes and is on the Board of the ArtRage Gallery. If you want to learn more about Mary, click the link down below