The cliche is the politician who has been in government so long that he loses touch with the needs and interests of his constituents and therefore has become an ineffective representative.
There’s a reason cliches become cliches. Because they’re often accurate.
But that’s not the case with state Sen. Jim Tedisco, who has spent the last 35 years as a vigorous and unapologetically abrasive defender of his constituents and their needs.
As a minority member of the Democrat-controlled Assembly for more than 30 of those years, his voice rose above the others when it came to standing up for his constituents.
As a member of the majority in the Senate, he hasn’t changed his approach, nor would he if the Senate reverts back to Democrats.
He’s been on the right side of legislation regarding the property tax cap (of which he was an original sponsor, saving taxpayers in his district more than $344 million), the Child Victims Act (He favors making it even stronger by eliminating statutes of limitations on sex crimes, saying 100 percent of victims should get their day in court.), and reducing government inefficiency and waste (His paperwork reduction act for state government has saved taxpayers millions and kept tons of unnecessary paper out of landfills.)
A former teacher, Tedisco has advocated for the families of children who’ve been bullied, pushed for anti-corruption bills and transparency legislation to reduce the opportunities for campaign donors and big companies to influence government officials, and he’s supported legislation to protect animals from abuse and abandonment.
Those are just some of the pieces of legislation he’s supported and gotten passed in his many ears of public service.
It’s his type of hands-on advocacy that has made him an effective representative.
He’s a no-nonsense guy who sets out to do something and then gets it done. And if he doesn’t get it done, he keeps fighting.
His opponent, Michelle Ostrelich, is a transplanted lawyer from Philadelphia with an impressive resume and a record of public service as a PTO co-president, board president of a local community center and trustee for a local hospital foundation.
She got inspired to run for office by the women’s movement after attending a women’s march in 2016, and she was a founder of the local grassroots organization, ROAR (Resist, Organize and Rise).
She says Tedisco doesn’t reflect the district’s values and that paralysis in the state Senate could be broken by having a Democratic senator representing the district in a house run by Democrats, should Democrats retake the Senate.
On issues such as corruption and foundation aid for poorer school districts, she and Tedisco have similar positions.
We were a little disappointed in her degree of knowledge about Adirondack issues, especially when one considers how much of the district ventures up into the Adirondacks.
Someone who’s going to be representing Indian Lake and Speculator and Old Forge and the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the Senate shouldn’t stumble on basic Adirondack questions.
While it might be tempting for voters to look at the gridlock and dysfunction of the state Legislature and start from scratch with someone new, that’s not always the wisest course if your representative isn’t part of the problem.
Jim Tedisco has long been an effective and vocal advocate for his constituents, no matter which house he’s served in and no matter whether he was in the majority or minority party.
Voters in the 49th District should re-elect Jim Tedisco.