7 Eyewitness News profiles New York's 26th Congressional District race

Posted at 3:30 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 09:21:31-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — New York 26: it’s a Congressional district where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. There are 255,859 registered democrats and 95,437 registered republicans, according to the most recent data from the N.Y.S. Board of Elections.

But, that’s not stopping republican Ricky Donovan Senior from challenging democrat incumbent Brian Higgins for the seat.

“I feel our Constitution, our freedoms, our Bill of Rights is under siege,” Donovan told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ali Touhey.

“I believe that I have a vision and an energy to get projects done that are very important to this community,” Higgins told Touhey.

Higgins was first elected to Congress in 2004. If re-elected, Higgins said he’ll push the Senate to act on the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 billion infrastructure bill that focuses on improving America’s roads and bridges. It includes funding to replace the Scajaquada Expressway with a parkway and tearing down Buffalo’s Skyway.

“We’ve made good progress over the last 10 years. It’s not enough. I know it’s not enough. We have new parks at the Outer Harbor. We want to do with the access.”

“My opinion is the Skyway looks great. I want to do something about all the lead piping in the city. That’s where my money would go.”

Donovan’s campaign platform includes upholding the Constitution, protecting our borders, building the military, stopping illegal immigration, job creation, pension protection, and police and fire support. He’s a retired corrections officer, and army and national guard veteran. If elected, he’d like to make New York City its own district, and end school tax for anyone over the age of 65. Other congressional priorities include protecting the constitution, job creation, and supporting fellow veterans.

“Those people who fought for our rights and our freedoms are probably standing up in their graves right now because we are on the verge of socialism.”

Higgins said he’s dedicated to reopening the Canadian border but he doesn’t believe it will happen any time soon.

“Because of our high number of cases, we are a health risk to them We are viewed as super spreaders. So, they’re not going to support the opening of that border until we drive down the number of cases that we have.”

Both candidates were asked about how the CARES Act funding is being spent in Erie County, including whether Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein should have collected more than $80,000 in overtime amid the pandemic.

ALI: Should she give that money back?

DONOVAN: I think so. Was the overtime really needed? And, I don’t think it was. So, yea, that money should come back.

HIGGINS: I’m sure she’s earned that money. Dr. Burstein works very, very hard. I haven’t looked at the paperwork but I’m sure you have to justify the amount of time you’re putting in.

Both said they support another stimulus bill to help boost the economy.

Click here for more information about Higgins, and here for more information about Donovan.