New state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos pledged Thursday that he will continue to support the economic development projects started by former Senate majority leader Joseph Bruno.
“We are talking about continuity,” said Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Centre on Long Island.
Bruno ended his long career in state government two weeks ago. He has taken a job as chief executive officer with Latham-based CMA Consulting Services.
Skelos, standing in the porch of a luxury box at Saratoga Race Course, said he will continue Bruno’s work to bring computer chip fabricator Advanced Micro Devices to Saratoga County and IBM to Rensselaer County, along with many other projects Bruno supported in the Capital Region.
“I give my commitment,” Skelos said. “What Joe has started, we will continue.”
Skelos added that he needs a partner in these economic development projects, and that partner, he said, is former Wilton supervisor and current state Assemblyman Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga.
McDonald is running for Bruno’s now vacant 43rd District Senate seat. Six candidates, including two Republicans and three Democrats, have filed petitions to run in November to succeed Bruno.
Skelos was flanked atop the luxury suite at the flat track by Bruno, McDonald and local officials, including Joseph P. Dalton Jr., president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, and Peter Aust, president of the Southern Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
“This gentleman works hard for us,” McDonald said of Skelos. “He cares about the people of New York state.”
Skelos said he has already talked with California-based AMD officials and said they remain committed to building a chip manufacturing facility in the town of Malta next year.
He admitted that there have been issues regarding water supply and a recent change in the top leadership at AMD when company CEO Hector Ruiz was replaced by Dirk Meyer. He said these issues haven’t changed AMD’s commitment to Saratoga County and New York state, which is giving the company significant economic incentives to build a plant here.
Skelos joked that Bruno is “now earning a living in the real world.”
“It’s time to move on and let justice be done,” Bruno said about Thursday’s public integrity commission report naming four of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s aides as breaking laws during the so-called “Troopergate” scandal that focused on trying to discredit Bruno over his use of a state helicopter.
Bruno did say that “it seems very strange” that the commission did not include Spitzer in the group of people responsible for the scandal.
“Our focus now is economic development,” Skelos said when asked about Troopergate.
Skelos said he wants to partner with businesses in the Capital Region to improve the upstate economy “and to control property taxes, which are strangling us.
“We have to stop the exodus of people leaving New York state,” Skelos said.
McDonald said he was proud to accompany Skelos during his first official tour of the Saratoga region as state Senate majority leader.
“We are one big economic unit,” McDonald said of the counties that make up the Capital Region.
“Majority Leader Skelos said he will be our partner,” McDonald said. “He promised Joe Bruno he will continue his work.”
McDonald said Saratoga Springs is known for horses, health and history. He said he would like to add to this list the high technology jobs of the 21st and 22nd centuries.
The other Senate candidates in the 43rd District include Republican Raymond Seney, a Nassau Town Board member in Rensselaer County, and Democratic candidates Brian Premo of Brunswick in Rensselaer County, Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen and former congressional aide Michael Russo of the town of Saratoga. Christopher Consuello is seeking the Working Families line along with Premo.