Republicans James Tedisco and Christian Klueg are vying for a Senate seat held by one man for 40 years and are running on opposite platforms.
Tedisco has served in the minority in the state Assembly for 33 years. The outspoken lawmaker said his experience and voting record make him a strong candidate for the 49th Senate District seat.
“The voters want someone who is independent and has had a record of standing up to the most powerful people out there,” Tedisco, who lives in Glenville, said. “They want someone who could be effective under the most difficult circumstances. There is a lot of talk of career politicians. Most realize it’s the character and quality of public service and work they’ve done to move the agenda forward to increase quality of life. I think my record speaks for itself.”
Republican Senate Primary
Family: Married, four children
Job: Owner of CMK & Associates
Family: Married, one child
Job: State Assembly
Tedisco now represents the 112th Assembly District that includes parts of Saratoga and Schenectady counties.
Klueg said one of the biggest problems in the state Legislature is “career politicians,” like Tedisco and Sen. Hugh Farley, and that his real-world experience as a small business owner in a rural village makes him the best candidate for the seat.
“I believe our Founding Fathers did not design it to have them run for 30 or 40 years,” Klueg, of Northville, said. “That facilitates the possibility of corruption. Even outside of corruption you become out of touch with what’s going on in the real world. Voters really want to have representatives in Albany who are representative of them and not a political class but regular people. I think that’s the perspective I’ll be able to bring to the Senate. There is a need for fresh and new ideas.”
Tedisco, 66, is focused on enhancing the state’s education system, repealing the NY SAFE Act, lowering taxes, increasing funding for infrastructure, implementing measures for ethics reform, and decreasing the burden of mandates and regulations on municipalities.
Klueg, 35, is looking to provide rural areas with access to high-spend internet and cellphone service, boost economic development, add jobs across the state, make New York more business friendly, and amend the Common Core.
Klueg is the owner of CMK & Associates, a real estate firm in Northville that employs a little more than 60 people.
“I believe government cannot create a job,” he said. “Small businesses are where jobs are created. Small businesses become medium businesses and medium businesses become large businesses. That’s where we should focus on economic development — how to start businesses, how to make the state more business friendly and to help businesses grow and hire more people.”
Both Tedisco and Klueg are against the SAFE Act and want to see changes made to target criminals and increase public safety.
Tedisco said he is backing legislation to repeal the gun law.
“It’s more about the Constitution and our rights and freedoms,” he said. “There has to be some regulation and there is by enforcing the laws for those who illegally have guns and when they use those guns.”
Klueg said he would also like to see the enforcement of laws already in place and increase funding to address mental health problems.
“The SAFE Act is an infringement on our rights. It’s also ineffective and doesn’t do anything to make our kids safe. We need to enforce the laws we already have.”
On the Common Core, Tedisco said the standardized tests are too long and shouldn’t be used to fully measure teacher and student performance. He is proposing legislation that would not penalize parents for opting out and would only use 3 percent or 5 percent of tests to evaluate teachers.
Tedisco was previously a special education teacher, guidance counselor and athletic director.
Klueg said he believes the Common Core was implemented without input from the state teacher’s union, faculty, parents or students and that they should weigh in on possible changes.
“One you scrap it and start over or two you amend it,” he said. “Amending may work but the key is what we’re amending. In order to fix the problems, we need to bring the parties back together and to the table.”
One thing Klueg is focused on is getting rural areas in the district access to high-speed internet and cell service. He said while there have been improvements upstate it’s still an issue in some locations.
While Tedisco is sponsoring a bill, which also has a Senate sponsor, to create a program to provide funding for infrastructure improvements, like the foundations of roads and bridges.
The two candidates are going door-to-door ahead of the state primary on Sept. 13 in the second largest Senate district in the state. The 49th Senate District includes parts of Saratoga and Schenectady counties along with Fulton, Hamilton and Herkimer counties.
Tedisco has received endorsements from all of the county Republican committees in the district. Klueg dismissed the committee process, saying the voters should decide.
“Unfortunately that’s disenfranchising the voters and telling voters in the party that they don’t have a choice,” he said. “A couple of months ago, I decided to bypass the committee process. When I challenged Farley, I reached out to all of the committees and two of them accommodated me and the other three varied from not responding to responding a day or two before the meeting. It became quite clear that it wasn’t going to be fair. They are going to pick the insider.”
Klueg said he feels confident going into the primary.
“The support I continue to receive on a daily basis has been overwhelming,” he said. The amount of encouragement I get is unbelievable. I’m more excited by the responses we’re getting every day.”
Tedisco said it’s up to the voters and that he would be happy to debate the issues.
“Everything I’ve ever done is related to work ethic,” he said. “My father taught me 90 percent of success is showing up and the other 10 percent is working hard. We’re going to work hard because I believe the state needs a good public servant.”
Whoever wins the primary will face Democrat Chad Putman, Schenectady’s deputy city clerk, in the general election.