EDITORIAL: Shaun Francis for State Senate

PITY THE POOR DEMOCRAT who challenges Republican state Senator Kathy Marchione. She’s a savvy politician who’s done a lot for the 43rd District, including its southern flank, also known as Columbia County. Most recently she directed state funding to the new CMH Rapid Care center in Copake. And she presides over a district with the lowest unemployment rates in the state.

So you have to wonder why Democrat Shaun Francis, a former minor league umpire and now a union organizer, would want to run against her. He says it’s about fairness, specifically about the money that so often corrupts politics in general and state politics in particular.

There’s a possibility that Democrats could win a majority in the state Senate this November and Mr. Francis wants press from the inside for an end to the once-in-a-decade gerrymandering that leads to legislative districts only the party in power can win. He calls for greater disclosure of who donates to candidates and stricter limits on how much they can give. He believes the political process can be more open and fair, and that this election is one of those rare opportunities pursue that goal.

Tell him there’s a lot more to being a senator than reforming the practices that encourage corruption and unfairly taint honest lawmakers and he’ll tell you that until donors and officeholders believe that the rules must be obeyed and that government is not for sale, how can voters know that government has our interests at heart.

He discusses issues like the good jobs at better wages in green technology or the importance of protecting our drinking water, rebuilding our infrastructure or improving public education, though Ms. Marchione has more details of such topics at her fingertips. What’s different is his observation that efforts on behalf of all these issues is distorted by those who give the most to get their way. And he does not exempt unions from this equation.

Mr. Francis backs practical steps, like closing what’s called the “LLC loophole,” which could make campaign finances more transparent. He also asks something different from the voters of the 43rd District. He implores us to understand that until we elect people whose priority is lifting the cloud left behind by corrupt leadership and disreputable practices–regardless of party–we surrender the chance for lasting progress. Please vote for Shaun Francis for state Senate.

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