Assembly hopefuls in 107th have local roots

GHENT—The 107th Assembly District consists of the towns of Austerlitz, Canaan, Chatham, Hillsdale, Kinderhook and New Lebanon in Columbia County, along with most of Rensselaer County and two towns in Washington County.

The race for a two-year term in the state Assembly is between incumbent Jake Ashby (R) and Tistrya G. Houghtling (D).

According to April enrollment figures from the state Board of Elections–the latest data on the board’s website–the active voter population in the whole district is evenly split among Democrats, Republicans and voters not enrolled in any political party. Columbia County voters in the six towns make up about 17% of the total electorate in the 107th District. The figures do not take account voter registrations since April of this year, Election Day is Tuesday, November 6. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Below, the candidates, in alphabetical order, answer a questionnaire sent by The Columbia Paper.

Jake Ashby

Jacob C “Jake” Ashby

Mr. Ashby, 38, was born in Castleton and lives there now. He holds an associate’s degree from Hudson Valley Community College, a bachelor’s degree from Keuka College and an MBA from Union Graduate College.

He is the proprietor of Ashby Adaptive Therapy, an occupational therapy practice, and teaches at Maria College. He and his wife, Kristy, have two children, ages 10 and 7.

Mr. Ashby served in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2014, reaching the rank of captain. He is the past commander of VFW Post 7337 and a member of the Nassau Sportsmen’s Club. His family is active at Sacred Heart Church.

Mr. Ashby won the seat in a special election held last April, after Steven McLaughlin left the post to become Rensselaer County executive. In his turn, Mr. Ashby left a post in the Rensselaer County Legislature, where he represented District 4 (the towns of Schodack, Nassau and Sand Lake) to run for Assembly.

Mr. Ashby’s campaign is endorsed by the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform parties.

Mr. Ashby submitted the following statement:

“I am committed to serving others and working to make a difference in their lives, serving country and community.

Service led me to join the Army after the September 11 attacks, despite initially being rejected due to medical reasons. I had to appeal to my congressman, Mike McNulty, to earn my commission.

When I returned home, I continued to serve others as an occupational therapist, eventually starting my own practice. I know firsthand the difficulties our seniors and those with medical challenges face every day. This is not something I’ve read about, it’s what I do, and have done, for the last 16 years.

I’m not afraid of a fight. I’m not afraid to stand up to the governor or my own party when they are wrong.

My commitment is to protect taxpayers, create new opportunities, safeguard our freedoms, ensure clean drinking water and erase corruption at every opportunity.”

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Tistrya Houghtling

Tistrya G. Houghtling

Ms. Houghtling, 38, was born in New Lebanon. She graduated from New Lebanon Junior/Senior High School and attended the University of Rochester.

Ms. Houghtling serves as town clerk of the Town of New Lebanon, a post she has held since 2016. Prior to that she was court clerk in the Town of New Lebanon from 2010 to 2015. Since 2013 she has been a part-time music teacher.

Ms. Houghtling serves on the board of directors of the Mountain Road School, where she is also a part-time music teacher. She performs in a folk band called The Echoes. She started a free store and holiday gift drive in her community.

Ms. Houghtling and her husband, Stephen, have three children, ages 8, 6 and 3.

Her campaign is endorsed by the Democratic, Working Families, Women’s Equality and Green parties.

Ms. Houghtling submitted the following statement:

“In the Assembly, I’ll fight to boost our upstate economy, create good-paying jobs, invest in our crumbling roads and bridges, and combat the opioid epidemic. I’ll work to address the water crisis in Petersburgh, Nassau and Hoosick Falls, and to invest in infrastructure to safeguard our drinking water.

I’ll fight to expand access to affordable health care, because no one should have to go without seeing a doctor because they can’t afford it, and big insurance and drug companies shouldn’t make a profit off of people being sick.

As New Lebanon Town Clerk, I made our town more transparent by putting documents online, and I’ll bring that same goal to Albany. I’ll work to get dark money out of our elections by closing the LLC loophole and requiring companies bidding on state contracts to disclose all campaign contributions. We must put a stop to the endless stream of corruption scandals.”

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