LYSANDER — Gail Tosh says she knew from the start it would likely take more than one try.
The Lysander resident challenged longtime incumbent Will Barclay for the 120th New York State Assembly District seat in 2018. Tosh, a Democrat, garnered about a third of the vote, but Barclay, R-Pulaski, won his ninth term in Albany.
This time, Tosh feels more prepared to put up a fight.
“The first time around I really learned the district,” Tosh said. “I went to the rural areas, I went to the cities and talked to people everywhere. I feel like I have a better handle on the issues hitting our district this time around.”
Tosh said the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important health care is and how it can be tough for people in rural areas to get the necessary medical attention. She pointed to an area like Boylston, which she said doesn’t have the proper electricity and broadband service for residents to get health-related services electronically.
“We have a real existential health crisis on our hands here,” Tosh said.
Public health is one of Tosh’s most pressing concerns for the 120th district, which encompasses most of the eastern portion of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as small portions of Jefferson and Onondaga Counties.
“We have one of the lowest life expectancies in the state of New York. That’s unacceptable to me,” Tosh said. “At the same time, we have one of the highest infant mortality rates. Our drug addiction and suicide rates are off the charts. It all comes down to health.”
Tosh also believes too much tax money is sent downstate, and Barclay’s attention is split between his jobs as an assemblyman and the assembly minority leader.
“We need a voice here that is going to have the ear of the majority in Albany to say ‘We need help in our rural districts as well. Our people are just as valuable as the people living downstate,’” Tosh said. “Will Barclay just doesn’t have the voice of the majority.”
Tosh has stayed active politically since losing to Barclay in 2018. Last year Tosh ran for town council in Lysander, where she lives with her wife and two children, on the Democratic and Working Families lines, and received 112 of the 708 voted cast, almost 16 percent.
“It was an unsuccessful bid, but I got a message out and I was able to grow the Democratic committee in the area,” Tosh said. “We’re at a 2-to-1 deficit Democrat to Republican … but we were able to grow the party and get more people behind our ideas and more information out there.”
For Tosh, the important thing is to continue to get her message out to the public for people to hear and think about.
“We’re excited about the momentum,” Tosh said. “We think we have a lot of good ideas, and a lot of common sense things.”
Barclay, who will seek his 10th term in Albany this fall, was elected in January as leader of the Assembly Republican conference following the resignation of longtime leader Brian Kolb of Canandaigua.