Senate race airs few differences

GHENT–The redrawn 43rd Senate District covers of all of Columbia County, most of Rensselaer County outside of Troy, and parts of Saratoga and Washington counties.

Republican Kathy Marchione, the Saratoga county clerk, and Democrat Robin Andrews, the town supervisor of Claverack, are the two candidates running for the seat in the state Senate representing this new district. Ms. Marchione narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Senator Roy McDonald in a bitter primary in September. Mr. McDonald remains on the ballot on the Independence Party line, but he is not campaigning for the seat.

Enrollment in the district favors the GOP, with 69,000 Republicans to 57,000 Democrats. But candidates also have to consider that more than 54,000 voters have not enrolled in any political party and could tip the balance in a tight election.

Just over 20% of all the voters in the district live in Columbia County.

The election is Tuesday, November 6.

Robin Andrews

Ms. Andrews, 50, grew up in Springfield, MA, and attended college at NYU. She lives in Philmont and works as a budget and planning consultant for companies like Dow Jones, ESPN and the Saturday Evening Post. She began in public service by serving on the Comprehensive Planning Board and then became a Philmont village trustee. In 2009, she became the first Democrat in 35 years to be elected town supervisor in the Town of Claverack.

As Claverack’s supervisor she helped keep Pine Haven in Philmont, created various committees to help support efforts in the town, and is proud of the her success in handling town budgets.

The most important issues in this election to Ms. Andrews are the economy, education and taxes. She feels government inefficiency and bureaucratic barriers are largely the cause of these issues.

“In the last two years, under Governor Cuomo, much progress has been made to stop spending and to address these multifaceted issues–and there is much more to be done,” wrote Ms. Andrews in an email. “I will work with my colleagues to find thoughtful and balanced solutions to ensure the long- and short-term health of our communities.”

She said she appreciates what the state’s 2% property tax cap achieves for taxpayers but is concerned about its sustainability because of the poor economy and the prospect of depleted municipal fund balances. “When this cap was put into place, it was promised that it would come with mandate relief and this has not happened yet,” she wrote. “I will fight to reduce the bureaucracy and requirements, especially of the schools, that make these caps so difficult to maintain.”

She also says that the current funding formula for schools does not distribute funds equitably to rural and urban schools, and needs to be addressed.

Ms. Andrews said that there are many state mandates that not only impede worker effectiveness, but are expensive to implement. She says she will work hard for relief of these mandates.

She said she wants to support farms by “helping clear the bureaucracy that impedes our farmers and supporting infrastructure improvements that will help our farms become even more successful.”

Ms. Andrews appreciates the potential economic opportunities that come with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but feels this controversial process for extracting natural gas would create a serious risk to water quality and natural resources in the state.

She believes she is more qualified for the seat in Albany than her opponent because of her private sector business experience in dealing with budget planning and financial decisions. She said she has a “true love of public service,” and has enjoyed working in for many years. Being the first Democratic supervisor in her town in over three decades, she said, means that she knows what it takes to find common ground. “I would not have been able to do much without understanding not only the process, but also how to work together to achieve real results,” she wrote. “It is this balance that we need–having the skills to approach things freshly and offer creative solutions as well as an understanding of the requirements of public service positions.”

Kathy Marchione

Ms. Marchione, 58, the Republican candidate running for the 43rd State Senate District, has spent her career in public service and is now serving her 32nd year. At 25 she was elected town clerk for the Town of Halfmoon, and then became Halfmoon’s supervisor. Fourteen years ago she was elected clerk of Saratoga County, the position she currently holds.

She has earned several awards over the years for her efficiency as county clerk and helped turn the Saratoga County Department of Motor Vehicles into a revenue generator. She is also proud that her county was the first in New York to start offering DMV hours by appointment so that older citizens and people who are busy have the option not to wait in line.

Ms. Marchione says the biggest issue right now in this district is the economy. She believes that regulatory burdens and high taxes from Albany are to blame for New York State having “one of the worst business climates in the country.”

“Regulations are important,” she wrote in an email. “But Albany should be working with businesses, and not just against them.”

She believes change is needed in Albany in more ways than one. “New York State spends more than Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined on Medicaid,” she wrote. “Something isn’t right when we pay more than three large states combined. The state especially needs to crack down on waste and fraud.”

She says there should be no need for tax increases in New York because it is already the highest taxed state in the country. According to Ms. Marchione, generating tax revenues by growing the economy and eliminating wasteful spending would allow the state to maintain funding for programs like public education without raising taxes.

She supports the state’s 2% property tax cap, but wants to make sure the mandate relief promised when the cap was passed is followed through.

She believes that local farmers are overregulated and treated as adversaries by state regulators. On fracking, she said she needs to know the full impacts before making a decision on it.

Though she has spent her career in public service, Ms. Marchione said she understands the needs of local small businesses. She says she works with small businesses all of the time in her role as county clerk and is constantly speaking with small business owners.

She says one of the things that make her qualified for the seat in Albany is her bipartisan approach.

“I know what it takes to work across the aisle to deliver for my constituents,” she said. “I worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to achieve good outcomes. I’m looking forward to doing that in Albany.”



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