EDITORIAL: Didi Barrett for Assembly

ROUGHLY THE SOUTHERN HALF of Columbia County, including the City of Hudson, is in the 106th state Assembly District. But in terms of registered voters, our part of the district is overshadowed by the other half, which lies in northern Dutchess County. You’d think that would make us second class citizens in terms of Assembly representation. The evidence says otherwise.

Incumbent Assembly member Didi Barrett, a Democrat, is seeking a third two-year term. She faces an energetic challenge from Republican Terry Sullivan, a Republican serving her first term as a councilwoman in Copake. Dr. Sullivan, an audiologist and speech pathologist, has criticized Ms. Barrett’s record, painting her as representing the interests of second home owners more than the working people of the district and saying that Ms. Barrett has focused on “softer issues.”

These are typical and politically acceptable complaints challengers raise against an incumbent in an uphill battle. The question is how well they match reality. Mr. Barrett sponsored legislation–now state law–that makes early detection of breast cancer more accessible. Is that a soft issue? She’s advocating more mental health and substance abuse treatment beds to address the opioid addiction crisis. No obvious softer side there.

Ms. Barrett helped persuade Governor Cuomo to make this county a priority for high-speed internet service. Access to that type of service will spur commerce and job growth in the county and could well determine the course of our economic future.

County versus City? Why stoke antagonism between people who have second homes here and contribute to the local economy, pitting them against those of us who live here fulltime? There’s room for all of us and Ms. Barrett works hard to find common ground. It’s not magic. She’s been more accessible than most state politicians in recent memory with her “diner tours” and her presence at events around the county. Despite raising the issue, Dr. Sullivan also cites the need to bring people together, noting that she grew up in the Bronx.

As a politician Ms. Barrett has a low key style that can mask her accomplishments. She works in fiscally responsible ways, like opening access for towns to outside funding to protect local streams, or developing plans to train young people for good jobs that already exist in the private sector. Sometimes small steps yield big dividends when it comes to preserving the quality of life here.

Didi Barrett has proven repeatedly her effectiveness in applying the resources of state government to the needs of this county and its residents. Please vote for her on November 8.

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