WETM aired the New York 58th State Senate District Debate on Wednesday, September 30th, at 5:30 PM. You can watch it on above or on the 18 News Mobile App

Tom O’Mara

Sen. Tom O’Mara was first elected to the New York State Senate on Nov. 2, 2010. He was re-elected for a second consecutive, two-year term in 2012 and a third consecutive term in 2014.

The Republican incumbent currently serves as the ranking member of both the Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, while being a member of several other Senate committees—including Environmental Conservation and Transportation.

Prior to his Senate election, he represented the 137th Assembly District for three consecutive, two-year terms.

He was named Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore for the 2010 legislative session—the third-highest ranking position in the Assembly Republican legislative conference. As the ranking member on the Assembly Energy Committee, he worked to provide lower cost, competitively-priced energy for residents and businesses in New York State, while encouraging conservation efforts and fostering the use of renewable and clean energy.

Sen. O’Mara credits being a lawyer for giving him a “real-world perspective” during his time working in the capital.

He served as Chemung County Attorney and as an Assistant District Attorney in both Manhattan and Chemung County. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the Syracuse University College of Law and a B.A. from the Catholic University of America. He is currently a member of the Barclay Damon LLP law firm and was formerly a partner in the Davidson & O’Mara, PC law firm in Elmira.

Sen. O’Mara is focused on developing public policies and strategies that allow the state government to improve the economic climate for doing business in New York by opposing tax increases, and reducing state spending, mandates, overregulation and oppressive property taxes. He’s also been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize Upstate New York’s manufacturing sector.

Sen. O’Mara has been involved with numerous committees and organizations throughout his life:

  • Counsel to the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency
  • Counsel to St. Joseph’s Hospital (Elmira)
  • Former Director and Secretary of St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Member of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (REDC)
  • Member of the Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG) Board of Directors
  • Member of Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED)
  • Trustee of the Horseheads Free Library
  • Board Member of the Wings of Eagles (formerly National Warplane Museum)
  • 2001/2002 Chairman of the American Red Cross Chemung/Schuyler Chapter
  • Former Director for the American Red Cross Chemung/Schuyler Chapter for seven years
  • Member of the New York State Judicial Screening Committee for Chemung County
  • Member of Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli’s Southern Tier Organization to Reform Medicaid (STORM)
  • Lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA)
  • Member of the Sons of the American Legion
  • Member of the Shooters Committee on Public Education (SCOPE)
  • Member of the Farm Bureau of New York/Chemung County
  • Member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Elmira
  • Member of Montour Falls Moose

Sen. O’Mara is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, camping, skiing and snowmobiling. Born and raised in Horseheads, he is a native of Chemung County. He and his wife, Marilyn, currently reside in Big Flats and have three college-aged children.

Leslie Danks Burke

Leslie Danks Burke is running in New York State’s 58th district. The seat is currently held by Republican Tom O’Mara.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the Minority Leader in the U.S. Senate, endorsed Democrat Leslie Danks Burke for State Senate.

Danks Burke says she is happily married and a mother to two daughters. Leslie and her husband Cody moved to Tompkins County 16 years ago and she says “we realized when we got here this was just a much better place to raise our kids. Upstate New York was a place where they could have the childhood we wanted for them”.

Leslie grew up in Denver, Colorado where she was raised by her mother who was a teacher, and her father who was a practicing attorney. Once she graduated from high school her parents and 3 younger brothers moved out into the country where they worked a farm and have been doing so for the past 25 years.

Danks Burke reminiscing how her father taught both of her daughters to drive the family tractor growing up, joking that one daughter is allowed to drive it herself, while the other never really took to the skill.

After graduating from High School, Leslie headed to the University of Colorado at Boulder where she graduated with a degree in ‘International Affairs in History’. From there Danks Burke moved to Chicago graduating from the University of Chicago’s Law School.

Leslie studied economics and law at the University of Chicago, where she used her knowledge to start a career.

She has since been practicing law for the past 18 years but has put that part of her life on hold for the 58th District Race. While New York allows her to continue practicing law even while in office, she says that she would rather continue working only for the people of the 58th District.

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