ELECTION 2014: Dem’s hopefuls gather at new party HQ

HUDSON–Columbia County Democrats opened their headquarters last Saturday at 743 Columbia Street at an event attended by many of the party’s candidates in the November 4 election. The site will also serve as a campaign field office for Sean Eldridge, the Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Congressman Chris Gibson for the House seat in the 19th District.

Mr. Eldridge was among those present as were: Assemblymember Didi Barrett, running for re-election 106th District; Phil Malone, Assembly candidate in 107th District; and Brian Howard, seeking the state Senate seat in the 43rd District 43 in the New York State Senate. All four candidates spoke to the crowd of about 50 people, making their speeches after an introduction by Cyndy Hall, chairwoman of the Columbia County Democratic Committee.

In her remarks, Ms. Hall said she was “thrilled” to launch a “coordinated campaign” for this election season. Instead of the different candidates each having his or her own offices, as in previous years, she said all of the Democratic Party candidates would share one office. In addition, she talked about the need for bipartisanship, noting that registered Republicans had came to the offices to volunteer for Democratic candidates. And she said that the county is turning more Democratic, according to party registration statistics.

After Ms. Hall’s introduction the first speaker was Phil Malone, who is not a Democrat but is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Independence Party lines. He owns solar power business and he talked about lowering both property taxes and taxes in general, saying doing so would help small businesses and stimulate the New York economy. Mr. Malone, who is challenging incumbent Republican Steven McLaughlin, criticized the Republican Party, saying its candidates “hope for a time that never existed.” He also spoke about wishing to restore New York to a position of leadership, saying that he was “sick of California leading everything.”

The 107th District includes the Columbia County towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook and New Lebanon as well as most of Rensselaer and southern Washington counties.

Next to speak was Brian Howard, who is challenging GOP incumbent Senator Kathy Marchione in the 43rd District, which covers all of Columbia County as well as most of RensselaerCounty and parts of Washington and Saratoga counties. Mr. Howard spoke about increasing the minimum wage and his plans for education reform. A former school superintendent and a principal, he said he believes the state should delay the implementation of the Common Core Curriculum standards and replace them with a different plan. He also praised former state Senator Roy McDonald, a Republican, who was defeated by Ms. Marchione in 2012 GOP primary, and defeat many observers attributed to Mr. McDonald’s support.

Assemblymember Barrett represents a district that includes the City of Hudson and the Columbia County Towns of Ancram, Claverack, Copake, Gallatin, Germantown, Ghent, Greenport, Livingston, Hillsdale and Taghkanic plus nine towns in northern and central Dutchess County stretching south to the Town of Poughkeepsie. She highlighted her efforts to pass legislation aimed at helping stop the spread of Lyme disease and spoke about remaining a progressive in a conservative district. She also talked about her votes in favor of two on-time budgets, as well as empowering women to run for office–women comprise only 25% of the Assembly. Ms. Barrett being challenged by Republican Michael N. Kelsey.

Speaking last Mr. Eldridge criticized Rep. Gibson for agreeing to support a lawsuit against President Obama, which Mr. Eldridge called a distraction from the more pressing issues Congress faces. The Democrat also faulted Mr. Gibson for what Mr. Eldridge said were votes against easy access to contraceptives. Mr. Eldridge contrasted that with his active support for Planned Parenthood. He also talked about his plan to protect the environment while faulting his opponent for signing the “Koch brothers pledge,” which calls for officeholders not to vote for a tax on carbon emissions and for supporting the gas and oil extraction process called hydrofracking, something Mr. Eldridge said would “fundamentally change the nature of our communities.”

Ms. Hall reminded party faithful at the event that “our job is to help them deliver their message to the voters and to get the voters to the polls in record numbers.” Citizens can register to vote at the Columbia County Board of Elections, 401 State Street online at www.columbiacountyny.com/elections. Election Day is Tuesday, November 4.

 

 

 

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