JOHNSTOWN - Republican State Sen. Hugh T. Farley of Niskayuna, who is seeking re-election Tuesday to his 19th term in the state Legislature, says he's hoping to become the Senate's senior senator, while his opponent, political newcomer Madelyn C. Thorne, says Farley no longer is doing a good job of representing the middle class.
"If I'm re-elected, I'll be the senior senator in the New York Senate," said Farley, who has represented the area since 1976. "It gives me a lot of influence."
Democrat Thorne of Schenectady, the director of pastoral care at the Glendale Nursing Home in Scotia, is challenging the 80-year-old Farley in the new 49th Senate District seat.
"I have a real passion for this," says Thorne. "This is important to me."
Farley also will be on the Independence and Conservative lines in the election. Thorne also will be on the Working Families line.
The annual base salary of a member of the state Senate is $79,500.
According to the latest financial disclosure figures, Farley has received $40,225 in donations and Thorne has received $11,759.
Farley currently represents the 44th Senatorial District. As a result of redistricting by the state Legislature, Farley and Thorne are seeking election to the new 49th District. It will include all of Fulton and Hamilton counties, as
well as northern Herkimer County, eastern Schenectady County and western Saratoga County. It excludes Montgomery County.
Farley holds a leadership position in the state Senate and is chairman of Majority Program Development. He also serves as vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Banks and is a member of the following committees: Aging, Education, Ethics, Health, Finance, Rules, and Social Services.
Farley is running on a platform of lower taxes, less spending and more jobs.
"I'm still very excited about being a senator," Farley said. "I'm in good health and pretty active."
He noted the "new" district will be the second-largest Senate district in the state.
"I'm very excited about going back," Farley said. "We still have a lot of challenges."
Farley said the atmosphere in Albany - between the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo - is probably the best in "my long career."
"There's no question about it," Farley said, "we try to put partisan politics aside."
The senator said jobs and the economy have been a major priority in the Empire State.
Farley said this week's problems in the New York City area from Hurricane Sandy will present a challenge to Albany lawmakers.
"It's going to put a strain on the state of New York, budgetwise," Farley said.
He said he would be representing a larger slice of rural New York state in the new district, and there are many "serious problems" facing the area.
Farley said state mandate relief for localities could become a reality in the next few years.
Farley, a Watertown native, was raised and attended school in Indian Lake, Hamilton County, and later graduated from high school in Watertown. He received a juris doctor degree from the American University School of Law in Washington, D.C.
He also has a bachelor's degree from the University at Albany and is a graduate of Mohawk Valley Community College. In 1974, Mohawk Valley Community College awarded him the Alumni Merit Award.
Farley served in the U.S. Army in Germany. He has taught high school in Syracuse and in Maryland. In 1965, Farley was appointed to the faculty of the School of Business of the University at Albany, where he advanced to full professor and law area coordinator. In 2000, he was named professor emeritus of business law.
In 1995, then-state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno picked Farley as his majority whip. Farley has been instrumental in leading a number of legislative reforms, particularly the use of conference committees.
The 59-year-old Thorne says her work at a nursing home - working with families and seniors - is rewarding. She said she has had a successful career in the graphic arts and document management field, and successfully opened up new territories for companies in both industries. She expanded volunteer programs, reaching out to Stratton Air Base, Northeast Parent and Child, Union College and local schools.
Thorne is a breast-cancer survivor who serves as a board member of the Advisory Council to the Schenectady County Department of Senior and Long Term Care Services, and The Umbrella of the Capital District. She is former board member the Y-Knot Sailing Association, a sailing program for the disabled.
She is a member of Schenectady County Friends of the Library, RISE Reading Service for the Print Disabled, creator and producer of "Abilities" radio program, supervisor of community-service workers at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School, and a member of the Animal Protective Foundation.
"I'm a middle-class person," Thorne says. "I go to work every day. I know our middle class is no longer being represented by our senator."
Thorne said Farley is "ethical" and a "gentleman" statesman, but the Democrat says "the time has come" for him to step down.
"We need fresh connections," she said.
She said she has worked with the Schenectady County Democratic Party for many years and has seen how that area turned itself around.
"I know I'm the right person for it," said Thorne, who never has held political office.
She said not having political experience is a good quality because she is not a professional politician and would bring a "working person's perspective" to the Senate. She said she's "not in some bubble" examining important issues.
Thorne said she doesn't understand why Farley hasn't used his influence more to help his district. As an example, she cited Utica in recent years receiving $5 million more in aid than Schenectady.
She said her work experience has been as a trainer and troubleshooter for business. She said she understands the budget process. She said there is a need to reform Medicaid, but she said she also sees the struggles of families on Medicaid.
Thorne would like to raise the $7.25 minimum wage in the state.
She said she has been to Fulton County at least six times campaigning. She said the "energy in Gloversville is so cool."
She said she thinks the area has a lot of potential.
"I believe legislators should build relationships," Thorne said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.