In newly realigned districts, state Sen. Hugh Farley and Assemblyman Marc Butler, both Republicans, are being challenged by Democrats Madelyn Thorne and Joseph Chilelli, respectively.
Thorne is director of pastoral care at Glendale Nursing Home, a Schenectady County facility in Glenville, who has had a previous career in graphic arts and document management. Chilelli is a design engineer, farmer and a former Herkimer County legislator.
The two Democrats may have potential, but Farley and Butler are stronger candidates.
Since Farley has been a senator since 1979, he has a legislative history that's difficult to summarize in brief. It comprises a range of issues such as authoring the nation's first hospice law and a law creating a respite program; sponsoring the 1986 Environmental Quality Bond Act to aid hazardous waste cleanup, historic preservation and urban cultural parks; sponsoring laws benefiting libraries; and developing the Metroplex law to redevelop declining cities, which he says brought state agencies and businesses into downtown Schenectady.
Butler, a former member of the Herkimer County Legislature, has been an assemblyman since 1995. Among his many legislative votes, he opposed the handgun microstamping bill, which he called an unreliable way to trace bullets. He sponsored a bill that would give tax incentives to manufacturers that create new jobs, and he supported the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council, which invested $60.2 million in 59 projects, including $2 million to convert the former Tryon Juvenile Facility in Perth into the Tryon Technology Park.
With their experience and knowledge, Farley and Butler can do more for our area than their Democratic opponents could offer. We endorse the incumbents, but we also challenge the legislators to do a better job.
Butler and Farley should be a louder voice for fair state education aid for small schools and relief from unfunded state mandates. They should attend county, city and town meetings to get a better idea of the challenges facing local government and residents.
These longtime legislators should use their influence to bring more state aid to Fulton County, which faces high unemployment, high taxation and serious economic problems. They should be proactive in helping local communities by guiding them in applying for state and federal grants and seeking new resources.
We've heard a lot of talk over the months and years about some of these issues, but we would like to see more action.