Local legislators head new Upstate Jobs caucus

Senator Daphne Jordan, left, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.
Senator Daphne Jordan, left, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

CAPITOL — Two Capital Region state legislators have been named chairs of a new bipartisan group of legislators focused on promoting economic development and education policies that will spur upstate job creation.

The group is being chaired by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, and state Sen. Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon, and includes other Capital Region representatives. In total, it includes five Republican state senators and five Democratic members of the Assembly.

“This new caucus presents the first time upstate leaders from both parties have united to seek holistic government reform in a bipartisan manner,” Jordan said in announcing the group, though the Democrats involved specifically said it is not a caucus, which normally involves members of only one political party or specific area of focus.

“As upstate legislators, we share challenges that rise above party lines,” said Santabarbara. “From agriculture to tourism, our region provides invaluable resources and unique industries that will be key to building a brighter future for our entire state.”

Other members of the group from the greater Capital Region include Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Saratoga Springs, and Sen. Peter Oberacker, Schenevus, a freshman who replaced state Sen. James Seward following his retirement at the end of last year. His district, while mostly in the southern Mohawk Valley, includes Schoharie County.

Others involved are state Senate members Assistant Minority Leader Joe Griffo, R-Rome, Mike Martucci, R-Middletown; and Pam Helming, R-Geneva; and Assembly members Marianne Buttenschon, D-Utica; Billy Jones, D-Plattsburgh; and Al Stirpe, D-North Syracuse.

The five Assembly Democrats issued a statement explaining that the gathering last week was not a caucus, though they expect the gatherings to continue: “As part of our duties as legislators, we work with our fellow upstate colleagues in government all the time on ideas to create jobs. This is a collaboration, a periodic convening among fellow legislators, but it is not a caucus.”

The group’s formation was announced by the Upstate Jobs Party, an aspiring political party that is looking to focus on skills-focused education reform, systemic economic development reform, supporting technology innovation businesses, and government reform. The Upstate Jobs Party isn’t yet a political party under New York state’s rules, though it hopes to achieve ballot status through fielding a candidate for governor in 2022 who secures at least 130,000 votes.

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