Categories: News, Schenectady County
SCHENECTADY – Senator Jim Tedisco plans to rein spending, aggressively prepare for the next wave of the pandemic, and restore a sense of control and balance to the state government.
Thearse McCalmon, his Democratic challenger, calls for payer health care, relief for dairy farmers and supports criminal justice reforms.
And she says the two couldn’t be more different.
“His campaign consists mostly of campaign showboating, photo ops, and whatever the party says,” McCalmon said. “My campaign is always about people.”
The two make their way to Senate District 49, which covers an area from Schenectady north and west to the Adirondacks.
McCalmon’s attempt to overthrow Tedisco comes after she came close to ousting Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy last year in Democratic Elementary School.
Republican Tedisco has long been a staple of local politics. He represented the Schenectady region in the State Assembly for more than three decades before being elected to his current position in 2016 following the resignation of longtime GOP Senator Hugh T. Farley.
Tedisco is a harsh critic of the bail reform, which removed bail for misdemeanors, many nonviolent offenses, and some violent crimes. This led to a number of cases where individuals accused of crimes such as bank robbery and manslaughter have been released without bail pending further legal proceedings.
People charged with offenses will be given tickets to appear in court.
Tedisco, who is seeking a second term, claims that the release of violent criminals poses a threat to public safety and calls for greater judicial discretion.
“Another thing it does is stereotypical law enforcement officers,” Tedisco said.
Tedisco, together with the MP Angelo Santabarbara from D-Rotterdam, co-sponsored a draft law to give the judges more discretion in setting the bail.
McCalmon called the GOP’s opposition to the bail reform “scare tactics” and fought back criticism that the reforms had led to criminals roaming the streets.
“Cops are not crime fighters,” said McCalmon. “You would have to be completely mental to be a crime fighter.”
Amid the nationwide debate on police reform, McCalmon also called for more training and de-escalation techniques for officers.
The police are overworked and should not be forced to be social workers.
The district cuts a pattern through rural areas including parts of Saratoga and Herkimer counties, and Hamilton and Fulton.
According to Tedisco, recent state regulations guaranteeing overtime workers to be paid overtime after a certain threshold under the Farm Fair Labor Practices Act have violated farmers.
“It’s not a 9 to 5 job,” said Tedisco.
For a year now, the state labor ministry has been convening a wages board for farm workers to hold hearings and make recommendations on overtime and overtime thresholds for farm workers.
A report is due at the end of the year.
“It’s going to be a disaster,” said Tedisco.
The state must help farmers set milk prices.
“We need to make sure there are still family farmers in New York State and not sell their property to solar parks,” he said.
McCalmon said she was no stranger to rural issues after serving as campaign manager for Patrick Nelson’s unsuccessful 2018 attempt to secure Rep. Elise Stefanik’s Democratic nomination for the seat of the Congressional District.
The rural residents share the same concerns as the urban dwellers, including good jobs and affordable housing.
McCalmon said she spent a lot of time talking to dairy farmers who struggled before COVID but are now in a deeper hole as demand has plummeted and they are frustrated with what they consider a lack of state and feel federal support.
Stable farms are essential to strong communities, she said.
“As soon as the pandemic hit, that was the end,” said McCalmon. “If we don’t support smallholders and our dairy farmers, we won’t eat.”
McCalmon said she needs to cut down on traditional campaign events but has been doing zoom calls and wellness checks since the pandemic began, asking people what they need, from masks and food to making sure they get their stimulus checks.
“We were the first campaign to have a COVID resource page on our website,” said McCalmon.
Tedisco said he was focused on making sure the state is well prepared for an uptrend this winter and was sharply critical of how Governor Andrew Cuomo handled the pandemic, especially when it comes to the spread of the virus in nursing homes.
Voters are taking the polls as cases rise across the state and capital region.
“We want to know what happened and what the plan is if this increases again,” said Tedisco.
On the way back from the recession, the state plans to cut its spending, including tax credits of $ 420 million for film production.
“We have a tax and spending problem in New York State, and the real clue is that 180,000 New Yorkers left the state under that regime last year,” Tedisco said. “No. 1 in net migration for all 50 states.”
He also said he has always been a strong advocate for schools to receive the full amount of foundation aid, which is the primary source of funding for public schools.
McCalmon supports payer health care and the New York Health Act, which puts all residents in a state-sponsored plan.
People who don’t have health insurance during a pandemic are problematic, she said.
“It’s something we have to do to get it out of the pandemic,” McCalmon said.
Tedisco said the cost was too high, pointing to Vermont’s failed efforts to get a state program.
“You went bankrupt,” he said.
Tedisco said he is advocating health-care savings accounts that would attract people of a younger age and a tort law reform that would cut medical costs.
The League of Women Voters: Saratoga County hosted a candidate debate Wednesday, which can be seen on YouTube: