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Jeremy Cooney wins in state Senate 56th District race over James VanBrederode

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Jeremy Cooney, left, and James VanBrederode.

Incumbent Democrat Jeremy Cooney has held onto the Senate’s 56th District seat, with unofficial results from the Monroe County Board of Elections showing that he defeated Republican James VanBrederode.

Cooney received about 54 percent of the votes to VanBrederode’s 46 percent. Cooney declared victory early Wednesday morning.

"There's been a lot of hard-fought races this year, a lot of negativity," Cooney said. "But we gotta turn the page. Rochester deserves better. We have a lot of communities that need our attention. We have a lot of families that are suffering, and we have problems that aren't addressed for far too long."

Democrats have long held the enrollment advantage in the battleground district, but for years, they could not unseat Republican Joe Robach, who served for eight two-year terms.

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Cooney scored a big win when he flipped the seat in the 2020 elections. And when the district was redrawn ahead of this year’s contests, the district became even more Democratic.

But a victory for Cooney was far from a given, considering that VanBrederode, the former Gates police chief, was a high-profile challenger.

As he ran for reelection, Cooney reiterated his support for the state bail and parole reforms, which Republicans have railed against throughout the year. Public safety, he said, is about more than police and punishment, it also must be about education and jobs. He also believes Rochester’s economic future is a critical issue.

Cooney has supported enshrining the right to abortion in the state constitution and taking steps to expand state-funded health care in New York.

VanBrederode placed crime and public safety at the forefront of his campaign, joining in GOP calls to repeal the state’s bail and parole reforms, which he has linked to rising violent crime rates. State data shows no such correlation, and Rochester’s upward trend aligns with crime rates nationwide.

He is also a proponent of bringing workforce training into classrooms and improving access to different pathways outside of the traditional school-to-college pipeline.

Jeremy Moule is a deputy editor with WXXI News. He also covers Monroe County.
Gino Fanelli covers City Hall. He joined the staff a reporter in 2019 by way of the Rochester Business Journal, and formerly served as a watchdog reporter for Gannett in Maryland and a stringer for the Associated Press.
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