County Legislature Chairwoman Susan Savage stressed her record of creating jobs and lowering property taxes as she launched her bid Sunday to unseat Republican state Sen. Hugh Farley.
Before a crowd of more than 100 family members, friends and other elected officials in front of Proctors, the Democrat from Niskayuna pointed to the revitalization of downtown Schenectady with 650 new jobs created at General Electric’s alternative energy plant and 150 at its battery plant plus 250 jobs at Railex.
Also, Savage, who represents the towns of Niskayuna and Glenville, said the Legislature has cut waste and inefficiency in county government, saving millions of dollars, and eliminated more than 200 positions through attrition. The county has cut property taxes three out of the last five years.
Savage said she would bring that same change to Albany.
“We need to cut taxes and cut the partisan bickering. We need to create meaningful jobs in the 44th Senate District,” she said. “The only way to change Albany is to change the people we send to Albany.”
Savage was first elected to the Schenectady County Legislature in 1997 and has served as its chairwoman since 2004.
Many elected officials were on hand for Savage’s announcement, including Mayor Brian U. Stratton, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, City Council members Joe Allen and Margaret King, Board of Education President Maxine Brisport and Vice President Diane Herrmann and several members of the Schenectady County Legislature.
Stratton said Savage has shown very strong leadership and worked effectively with the city in redeveloping the city. He believes she has a good shot to take down Niskayuna resident Farley — who has held the seat for 34 years — given the anti-incumbent mood of the electorate.
“I think people are very tired of the same old, same old,” he said.
In addition to taxes and jobs, another issue is that Savage would be in the majority party — assuming the Democrats maintain control — and therefore be able to advocate more effectively for this area.
Savage also had support from organized labor. Frank Natalie, president of the Schenectady Area Labor Council, said he is supporting Savage because of her work to create good-paying jobs and entering into a an agreement for the Glendale Nursing Home project, which would guarantee that unionized labor would be used.
“She has an awareness of what the people’s needs are,” he said.
Supporter Ellen Malkis of Niskayuna said she likes that Savage has lowered taxes and has supported efforts to improve nutrition such as posting of calorie counts at fast-food restaurants.
Savage launched her candidacy on the day of her late grandfather’s birthday. Both her father and grandfather were elected officials. Her father served as minority leader of the Cayuga County Legislature and her grandfather was mayor of Auburn.
Savage resigned her position as director of intergovernmental relations for the state Office of Real Property Services. She and her husband, Steve Weingarten, a lobbyist, have nine children.
Savage said if elected, her husband would not lobby her on issues as has been the case during her 12-year tenure as an elected official. One such example is an initiative to have the county purchase prescription drugs from Canada. She noted that Weingarten represents chain drugstores.
Savage said she was urged to run for the Senate last year when she was campaigning for another term on the county board. She said she has a record of accomplishment and is able to build consensus.
“Right now we don’t have strong voices for upstate New York,” she said.
Reached by telephone on Sunday, Farley said he is proud of his record. “I was the author of Metroplex, which has been the economic engine that has made things happen in Schenectady. I’ve delivered millions of dollars to downtown Schenectady in economic development aid,” he said. “My constituency has been very loyal to me over the years and I’m very excited about running.”
Farley said he agrees with Savage on the need for lowering property taxes and noted that the state Senate Republicans have passed real property tax caps that have not been enacted. Farley is confident that the Republicans can pick up the necessary seats to take back control. He blamed the Democrats for the “dysfunction” in Albany and said voters may take it out on them.
“One party controlled every facet of government and I’ve never seen it so bad since that’s happened,” he said.
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Categories: Schenectady County