Brooks hits the road across 21st

Democrat Tracy Brooks, a candidate for the 21st Congressional District, visited sites in Troy, Schen
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Categories: Schenectady County

Democrat Tracy Brooks, a candidate for the 21st Congressional District, visited sites in Troy, Schenectady, Amsterdam and Gloversville on Tuesday.

In Amsterdam, Brooks stopped to meet with business and city officials and tour Breton Industries and talk about manufacturing in the 21st century.

She also visited Tech Valley High School in Troy to speak about technology, Hometown Health Center in Schenectady to talk about public health and the Open Window on Main Street in Gloversville to talk about small businesses. Brooks said she would have visited all seven counties in the district had it not been for the bad weather forecast.

Brooks announced her candidacy on Thursday, as the second Democrat to enter the race. U.S. Rep. Michael R. McNulty, D-Green Island, announced in October he would retire in 2009 after 20 years in the House.

Last week, Brooks launched a high-tech campaign with a YouTube video release, ActBlue, MySpace and Facebook pages, online fundraising and automated calls to hundreds of government officials. On Tuesday, she was back to basics, traveling to four of the seven counties in the district.

“Now, we’re visiting our local small businesses, talking to community organization and walking down our Main Streets,” Brooks said.

After a walking tour of Breton Industries’ main site at the Edson Street Industrial Park, with CEO Richard Lewis, Vice President Al Darmofal and Mayor Ann Thane, Brooks spoke about the importance of keeping manufacturing as the backbone of Montgomery County and about her plans to revitalize the area.

“[Breton] continues to reinvent themselves. They are the backbone of the community and they are staying strong,” Brooks said. “It is impressive to see their commitment to the city and to staying here.”

Brooks said Montgomery County has all the tools it needs with the three Thruway exits, access to rail lines and the river.

“We have all the tools here,” she said. “Now all we need is a little investment and vision, and I really believe that is coming. In the next decade, you will see a lot of changes in this place, and I want to be part of those changes.”

“She is saying all of the right things,” Thane said, when Brooks began talking about using small business to help small cities rebound.

Brooks said she thinks she is an appealing candidate to the younger, energetic, next generation who have a change in priorities and that she understands the needs of the community because she spent three years working with elected officials who represent the area.

She said one of the challenges this area faces is that it is rich in heritage and has potential for tourism, but it isn’t marketed enough. She said people travel the Thruway on their way to Boston or Montreal for heritage vacations, but the trick is making those people want to stop in Montgomery County. Brooks also wants to attract the next generation of families to live and work in the area. She said that if Utica or Albany gets a large technology manufacturer, studies show those workers like to live in small, older cities. She said it would be good to look into turning the old mill buildings into condos for those people.

Breton’s Darmofal said it was good to see a potential government officer visit businesses and take interest in local manufacturing.

“These companies are the backbone of the area and we have been here through good and bad times. We want to do so much and bring in new businesses, but we also have to take care of the businesses that are already here,” he said.

Breton, a leading manufacturer of cloth accessories for the military, is hoping to expand its location in the industrial park by 20,000 square feet and is working with Montgomery County officials to secure funding. The company wants to close its location on Leonard Street and move those people to the industrial park.

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