November-December 2018 Issue
October 22, 2018

Educators on the Ballot: Mannion is the man in Senate District 50

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United
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Caption: John Mannion, left, and NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. Pallotta says Mannion, president of the West Genesee Teachers Association and a member of the Onondaga County Teachers Association, would bring a classroom teacher’s perspective to the Senate.

"I’m a teacher, a dad and a lifelong Central New Yorker, not a politician,” says John Mannion. “We can’t depend on career politicians to fix Albany. We have to do it ourselves.”

Last spring, NYSUT endorsed Mannion, an Advanced Placement biology teacher and local union leader, for state Senate. Union leaders said the 50th Senate District around Syracuse deserves “a dedicated, tireless leader who is knowledgeable and passionate about public education.”

NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said Mannion, president of the West Genesee Teachers Association and a member of the Onondaga County Teachers Association, would bring a classroom teacher’s perspective to the Senate.

He runs on the Democrat, Working Families and Women’s Equality Party lines for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. John DeFrancisco. “Too often,” Mannion says, “whether it is the pay-to-play culture or just an entrenched system, I have felt ignored by our elected officials. I’m running for state Senate because I want to be a part of the solution and put public service at the forefront.”

Mannion outlines common sense reforms he wants to see enacted immediately to help provide the public service residents of the region deserve:

  1. Set term limits for all state elected officials, including a maximum of seven terms for state senators.
  2. Get big money out of politics, primarily by closing the LLC loophole that allows individuals to use corporations to circumvent normal contribution limits.
  3. Ban outside income for state legislators.
  4. Establish an independent redistricting commission to end gerrymandering. The constitutional amendment passed in 2014 that allows for a Legislature-appointed commission is a good first step, but we need to go further to eliminate the influence of elected officials.
  5. Comptroller oversight of public-funded projects.

Mannion is a graduate of NYSUT’s Member Organizing Institute, which helped rally opposition to the proposed constitutional convention last year. He also emerged from NYSUT’s Pipeline Project, which identifies and trains candidates to run for public office. The project helped NYSUT members Monica Wallace of Buffalo and Christine Pellegrino from Nassau County earn Assembly seats in 2017. NYSUT members Pat Burke and Keith Batman are also running for Assembly seats this November.

It’s a trend noted by the news media and teachers unions: Motivated by education cuts, over-testing and a spirit of activism, educators are running for legislative seats across the country. A new Education Week analysis shows that “teachers are not only running — they’re winning.”

The Ed Week analysis found 158 classroom teachers running for state legislatures; 101 have now moved on to the general election. Thirty-seven of them had to win primaries.

It only makes sense, Pallotta said. “As the Senate debates standardized testing, state funding to our public schools and colleges and countless other important education issues, we believe that the voice and experience of a classroom teacher in that chamber would be invaluable for all New Yorkers."

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Nicole Terminelli, Massena FT, fourth from left, running for St. Lawrence County Legislature, with support from local unions. Photo provided.

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State Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, center in blue, enjoys the grassroots support of NYSUT members and leaders, including President Pallotta, far right. The senator is a former teacher. Photo by El-Wise Noisette.

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