Eric Tkaczyk won’t soon forget his wife being sworn into the state Senate.
“It was terrific,” he said of the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon in the Senate chamber. “I think it was very picturesque. She came in in blue, surrounded by this sea of dark suits.”
Cecilia Tkaczyk, a Duanesburg farmer and Democrat, had her oath of office administered by newly minted state Supreme Court Justice Christine Clark, surrounded by friends and colleagues on the floor and in the viewing galleries. Before she could even officially become the Senate’s 63rd member, the proceeding was held up by a continuous round of applause.
This turn of events was not expected almost a year ago when the 46th Senate District was carved into the Capital Region as part of an effort by the Senate Republicans to maintain their majority by creating a presumably safe seat. A late infusion of spending on Tkaczyk’s behalf and likely coattail effects of President Barack Obama’s re-election made the race between Tkaczyk and then-Republican Assemblyman George Amedore too close to call on election night.
She won the race after a contentious ballot-counting process that was finally completed after more than two months and decided by just 18 votes. During that process, the state Board of Elections initially certified Amedore’s victory when he was up by 37 votes and he filed an oath of office with the state. That result was overturned by subsequent judicial rulings that continued the counting of earlier disallowed absentee ballots.
After Tkaczyk took her oath, she was almost immediately met with hugs by Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, who supported her with money during the Democratic primary, and Sen. Mike Gianaris, D-Queens, who was head of the Senate Democratic elections efforts in 2012. Then Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who also comes from western Schenectady County, shared an embrace with her.
There were a few more family pictures, then Tkaczyk was ready for business.
“I’ve got to find my seat,” she announced to laughs and was escorted to her spot.
In her first news conference as an elected senator, Tkaczyk promised to be a representative of her entire district, which stretches from Montgomery County down to Ulster County.
“I’m in 311 of the Legislative Office Building … my phone number is 455-2470 and we’re so excited to be here,” Tkaczyk said.
Tkaczyk enters the state Senate as a member of the minority Democratic Conference, even though a majority of the members are enrolled with the Democratic Party. The chamber is led by a coalition of Republicans and six renegade Democrats.
“It’s an odd configuration,” Tkaczyk said of the governing coalition. She hopes they will bring forward progressive proposals on campaign finance reform, reproductive health rights and the minimum wage.
Watching admirers flow toward the new senator for pictures outside the Senate gallery, Eric Tkaczyk said it was a great occasion.
“I think Cecilia brings a lot of qualities as a person,” he said. “I think it will be great to have her here and watch how she uses her personality in the state Senate.”