EDITORIAL: Special election matters

THE RESIDENTS of northern Columbia County have nobody representing them in the state Assembly. That will change next Tuesday. On April 24 voters in who live in the Towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, New Lebanon, Stockport and Stuyvesant will help elect people to fill two vacant seats in the state’s lower house. But this being New York, it gets complicated.

There are two separate special elections in two different election districts.

Voters in Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook, New Lebanon are in the 107th Assembly District, where there are two candidates: Cynthia Doran on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality Party lines; and Jacob C. Ashby on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform Party lines.

Residents of Stockport and Stuyvesant live in the 102nd Assembly District. Three candidates are seeking that seat: Aiden S. O’Connor, Jr. on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines; Christopher Tague, on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform lines; and Wesley D. Laraway on the Best Choice line.

The seats became vacant when Republican incumbents Pete Lopez (102nd) and Steve McLaughlin (107th) resigned to take other government posts.

The term of office in both special election races lasts only until the end of the year. The seats will be up for full two-year terms in the November general election.

Cindy Doran in 107th

THE MAJORITY OF VOTERS in 107th Assembly District live in Rensselaer County. Democrats hold a slim advantage in terms of voter registration district wide. But last fall Mr. McLaughlin narrowly beat his Democratic opponent for Rensselaer County executive, which suggests the race for his Assembly seat will be close.

Both candidates are local and have admirable records of public service. Mr. Ashby was a captain in the Army and is an occupational therapist. He was recently elected to the Rensselaer County Legislature.

Ms. Doran was a public school teacher in Troy for more than 30 years and has been a county legislator for more than four years.

It would have helped to hear more about how each candidate work to reduce corruption and increase transparency in the state capitol, but they’ve had little time to connect with voters during this condensed election schedule.

Ms. Doran has emphasized access to health care and safeguarding water supplies from industrial pollution. Her list also includes supporting Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights, which have broad public support and need strong advocates in state government.

She also makes clear her support of further restrictions on firearms, although it’s not clear where her general proposals differ from the state’s SAFE Act.

Mr. Ashby, who served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, says he would seek repeal of the SAFE Act, which is not likely to happen. But his campaign materials underscore his position with a visual statement: a photo of him in a combat zone holding an assault rifle. He is the precisely the person who should have that weapon in a place where he needed it to do his job and to protect himself and his troops.

He is brave. He is devoted to this country. But what else, after Parkland, does he want this photo to convey to us voters and our kids about how he will help make our schools safer from those who should never have that kind of weapon?

Cindy Doran has experience and the ideas that make her the choice the 107th Assembly District. Vote for her Tuesday, April 24.

Aiden O’Connor in 102nd

STUYVESANT AND STOCKPORT are the only two municipalities in Columbia County in the 102nd District–the gerrymandered tail of a district that includes all or parts of seven counties.

The 3,009 active voters in Stuyvesant and Stockport comprise less than 4% than the total number of voters in the district, where Registered GOP voters outnumber Democrats by about 6,000. So it would seem that Republican Christopher Tague, the town supervisor in the Town of Schoharie and the Schoharie County GOP chairman, is the favorite.

But Democrats elsewhere have done well in recent special elections and Middleburgh history teacher Wesley Laraway, running on his own independent Best Choice Party line, could draw enough votes to affect the outcome.

Few jobs prepare someone for political office, but Aiden O’Connor’s experience as a paramedic in Greene County might be the exception. State lawmakers need to function in stressful situations and to pick the best course forward even when none of the choices is promising.

As a Greene County legislator he knows the legislative process, and his list of concerns for the district, like addressing the opioid epidemic, will resonate with voters in Columbia County too.

The rural 102nd district could use some clout in Albany, where the Democratic Party has a lock on the Assembly. Aiden O’Connor is an upstate candidate who might talk some sense into his capitol colleagues.

Voters in Stockport and Stuyvesant should make him their voice in the Assembly.

Polls in both district will be open April 24 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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