Meet the candidates for the new Congressional District 22

Seven Democrats and one Republican have announced their candidacies for the new 22nd Congressional District.

That new district includes Onondaga and Tompkins counties and parts of Ontario, Cayuga, Seneca, Cortland, Schuyler and Madison counties.

Here's who is running:


Vanessa Fajans-Turner

Vanessa Fajans-Turner is an Ithaca native whose platform focuses on combating climate change and systemic inequality.

She worked as a sustainable development professional at the United Nations where she helped develop the UN's unanimously adopted development goals before bstarting work with James Cameron's climate and indigenous-rights-focused Avatar Alliance Foundation, according to her campaign website. She then co-launched Investable Oceans to accelerate sustainable economic growth across ocean sectors by connecting climate-conscious investors with climate-friendly ocean startups.

Fajans-Turner currently serves as the executive director of BankFWD, a not-for-profit initiative that influences banks to phase out funding for fossil fuels. Vanessa is actively helping lead the implementation of Ithaca's Green New Deal, the most ambitious in the nation.

Sam Roberts

Sam Roberts is a Syracuse native who served on the Onondaga County Legislature, the New York State Assembly, and as the New York State Commissioner of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.

He is focusing on the retention of businesses and good-paying jobs, education, improving community policing and supporting public safety agencies, healthcare, environmental conservation and climate change mitigation.

Josh Riley

Josh Riley is an Endicott native whose most recent experience comes as an attorney who filed briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing for stronger campaign finance laws and improved healthcare for all, according to his campaign website. Riley also filed briefs in the lower courts arguing for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and improved access to benefits for veterans.

He also supported legal challenges opposing the Trump Administration’s discriminatory immigration policies, filing U.S. Supreme Court arguments to support Dreamers and oppose the Muslim Ban. At other points in his career, Riley helped usher a bill that provided new funding for addiction treatment and mental health programs and represented children from low-income families in South Florida who were having difficulty accessing healthcare services.

During a fellowship at the start of his career, he worked on legislation to raise the minimum wage and opposed large corporations that attempted to weaken the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Riley is a graduate of the College of Willam and Mary and Harvard Law School.

Chol Majok

Chol Majok is a former “Lost Boy” of Sudan who came to the U.S. in 2001 and was elected as a Syracuse Common Council member in 2019.

He lists workforce development, affordable housing, affordable healthcare, public safety, education, the environment, infrastructure and support for rural Americans as his priorities.

As Workforce Development Director for the Syracuse Northeast Community Center, Chol assisted community members in finding meaningful jobs and careers that supported them in their path toward building financial security. Recently, Chol served as Director of Community Engagement and Home Ownership at Home HeadQuarters.

Chol received a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University in 2008, a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Albany in 2015, and his Doctorate Degree in Executive Leadership from St. John Fisher College in 2020.

Sarah Klee Hood

Sarah Klee Hood is a member of the DeWitt Town Board and Air Force Veteran who is focusing on affordable healthcare, childcare, expanded education and trades, paid family leave, jobs and women's health.

Sarah served as an air traffic controller and created federal level policy used as benchmarks today, her campaign website states. As a commanding officer, she fought against discrimination within the ranks of the Air Force.

Hood endured four miscarriages in her life, which she cites as her source of passion for women's reproductive and mental health. In spite of the trauma, Hood was able to start a family and became a stay-at-home mother.

She later returned to the workforce and implemented software to make transportation more efficient and reduce carbon.

Hood now serves as the director of a clean technology incubator where she works with the scientists and small businesses who create technology to address climate change. The incubator has helped companies blossom, including the region’s first start-up unicorn.

Francis Conole

Francis Conole is a Syracuse resident and Iraq War veteran who currently serves as currently serves as a commander in the Navy Reserves, where he was recently selected for promotion to captain.

Conole's campaign website shows health care, Central New York's economy, the environment, election security, women's health, equality, campaign finance reform, investment in Black and brown communities, criminal justice reform, education, gun violence prevention, rural investment, medicare and social security, the opioid crisis, and preparations for the next pandemic as his priorities.

Steve Holden

Steve Holden is a Camillus resident and veteran who's service included four Army deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He now works as a chief financial officer of an organization that aids military veterans in securing government contracts.

His platform includes enacting healthcare for all, mitigating climate change, advocating for racial and economic equality, raising the minimum wage, eliminating student debt, guaranteeing voting rights, protecting women's reproductive rights, improving mental health access for veterans, defending LGBT rights, pushing for universal background checks on all gun sales and ending "forever wars and occupations."


Mike Sigler

Mike Sigler is a Tompkins County legislator who represents Lansing.

His campaign website shows crime and policing, inflation, immigration, job creation, national security, education, higher education, innovation, energy, climate change mitigation, healthcare, honoring veterans, protecting medicare and social security, and combating the drug epidemic as his priorities.

Brandon Williams

Brandon Williams is a Navy veteran and entrepreneur who founded a software company that helps large industrial manufacturers modernize their production plants, improve their cybersecurity, and reduce emissions through advances in artificial intelligence.

Williams received an MBA with a double major in Operations & Information Management and Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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This article originally appeared on Ithaca Journal: 22nd Congressional District candidates