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119th Assembly Candidates Discuss the Issues

By Mark Ziobro

With the upcoming political elections set for November 6, The Utica Phoenix got the chance to catch up with Dennis Bova, the Republican candidate, and Marianne Buttenschon, the Democratic candidate for the 119 Assembly race. Our split/candidate piece will focus on both Buttenschon and Bova, their platforms, hopes if elected, and key issues. 

Dennis Bova

Dennis Bova – like his opponent Marianne Buttenschon – has a unique life of living in the 119th district as a non politician. Both he and his wife Tracy work in healthcare (Bova works in surgery and told this writer that his wife is a Family Nurse Practitioner). According to Dennis’ website (, his opposition to the downtown hospital, and his concern for the future of healthcare in the area, sparked his interest in running for Assembly. 

Speaking to Dennis Bova, he stated three key points to his general platform. 1 – Corruption being a major issue and the need for transparency for leadership. Bova, whose wife and he are both in healthcare, questioned “where are we spending our money?” and stated a need to provide the best healthcare for constituents. 

2 – Giving back to the community instead of investing in nano centers, hospitals instead of healthcare. “People don’t feel they have a voice,” Bova stated. Some options Bova had in lieu of a downtown hospital. “Give St. Lukes’ a MD/DO program,” Bova said. “Stimulate the hospital.” Bova, a opponent of the downtown hospital project, also stated emphatically: “Never marginalize education.” 

3 – Job development. Bova suggested bringing in jobs and companies that would suit the area. “More call centers, Fortune 500 companies, etc.” Once the money and jobs are there, bringing companies into the Nano Center may be a viable option, he summarized. 

When asked what are the key issues affecting the people in the 119th District, Bova stated without hesitation: “A lack of jobs, high taxes, and corruption.” 

I asked Mr. Bova what he would do to bring about positive change. Some of the chief issues Bova broached were: re-engaging in the community. “Go to city council meetings, go to forums…engage constituents.” Bova believes that you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what it is. 

To Bova, bringing people together is the most important thing. He feels that people want to be listened to and involved with politicians and wants to feel that they are being listened to. Approachability and engagement are key, according to Bova. 

For more information about Dennis Bova, visit The Assembly election is November 6th, 2018. 

Marianne Buttenschon

The Democratic candidate for the 119 Assembly is Marianne Buttenschon. Marianne is a lifelong resident of Oneida County, and has been involved in the her community in various ways. She has been an educator – going from intern, to teacher, to academic dean at Mohawk Valley Community College. Buttenschon is also currently the president of the Mohawk Valley Chamber Alliance. 

Whereas Dennis Bova felt that one of the hottest items to tackle on his list was corruption, Buttenschon stated “economic development” and “job development” as her priorities. Buttenschon broke down her platform into three tiers. 

Her first was safety. “Individuals need to feel safe,” Buttenschon said, including such milieus as safety in homes, communities, workplaces, and within the way they want to lead their lives. 

The second tier that Buttenschon cited as her platform base was to utilize training and education. “We need to work within our schools; we need to work within our facilities that provide training to ensure that they link with economic development,” Buttenschon said. She defined her platform ideals as a ‘wholistic approach’ as each are related to each other. 

From this starting point, Buttenschon indicated a point towards healthcare and individual rights. 

Buttenschon, a small business owner herself (she and her husband own the Buttenschon Christmas Tree Farm) says that small business is important to her. We asked the candidate what things that could be offered to help draw in business and stimulate the economy. 

Buttenschon’s answer harks back to her investment in education, starting with kids in school and growing from there. Starting early, and not waiting until children are juniors and seniors to start broaching these topics. 

“Small business is the foundation within many communities.” 

Buttenschon talked to the Phoenix about the importance of targeting small business owners with the tools they need to thrive, such as marketing, education, and financial prudence. 

When asked about misconceptions voters may have about her, Buttenschon took the opportunity to re-emphasize her investment in the community and her involvement in education and volunteer work as her platform ideas that separate her from her opponent, Dennis Bova. 

Buttenschon has a PhD in organizational leadership, and believes in engaging as many individuals as possible to look for solutions. 

Buttenschon touched on the solvent refugee centers and opportunities in Utica, and touched upon the support that Utica’s various immigrants provide the economy. Buttenschon touched upon the idea of giving these people (and Americans as well) the idea to enjoy their job and feel self-worth. 

You can find more information about Marianne Buttenschon on her political website at As stated above, election day is November 6th. 

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