Under the shade of the Proctors marquee, supporters gathered as Madelyn Thorne announced her candidacy for the 49th Senate District on Sunday.
Amid cheers from the crowd and standing before a handful of TV cameras, Thorne laughed and took the podium.
“I like this,” she said. “This is a good day.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy stressed what Thorne could do as part of the Democratic team, county legislature Chairwoman Judy Dagostino talked of her belief in the American dream, and U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko introduced the Senate hopeful, saying she understood the importance of a thriving middle class and the dignity of work.
Thorne herself concentrated on her everyday, yet successful life experience. She talked about what her years of motherhood and time as director of pastoral care at Glendale Nursing Home has taught her about priorities and business communications.
“Most of my working life has been in the private sector,” she said. “I know what it’s like to pay too much for health insurance. I know what it’s like to watch retirement savings eroding away.”
To Thorne and her supporters, her lack of political experience is an advantage.
“Why am I running for the New York State Senate?” she said. “Simply put, because we need fresh ideas … I don’t believe we can have meaningful change in upstate New York by sending the same old people back to the same old jobs over and over again.”
With the exception of several references to her competitor, longtime Senate Republican Hugh Farley, Thorne stayed away from political name-calling.
“I’m not going to pick his career apart,” she said. “It’s not about that. This is a very positive message about what people can do when they work together.”
Supporters, from friends and family to campaign volunteers, held signs and sported stickers.
Jane McCloskey of Rotterdam has known Thorne since they were both 12 years old.
“We’ve remained friends all these decades,” she said. “She’s a very decent human being. I knew her parents. They would be so proud.”
Thorne, 58, grew up and still lives in Schenectady, in a house she calls a small bungalow. She raised three children, one now a third-grade teacher, another an Iraqi war veteran. All, she bragged, are out of the house.
“She has a background that has given her a sensitivity that can’t be learned from a book,” Tonko said, “and as a breast cancer survivor and marathon runner, she knows what it is to overcome odds. It’s a very compelling story.”
The new 49th Senate District includes Eastern Schenectady County, Western Saratoga County, Hamilton County, Fulton County and the northern two-thirds of Herkimer County.