The race for New York’s 111th Assembly District is a rematch from 2014.
Incumbent Angelo Santabarbara edged out challenger Pete Vroman that year by a little more than 1,000 votes. Now Vroman, a Republican, is making another run in the district that encompasses all of Montgomery County and portions of Albany and Schenectady counties, including Rotterdam, Princetown, Duanesburg and the western half of Schenectady.
The Democrats hold a sizable enrollment advantage in the district, which, as of April 1, was home to 26,720 registered Democrats and 19,543 registered Republicans, according to state Board of Elections data. There are also 16,603 voters without a party affiliation and roughly 8,000 voters registered with smaller parties.
Santabarbara, 44, is seeking his third term in the state Legislature after being elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014.
“I’m working to get things done for people back here at home,” the Rotterdam resident said. “My record shows what I’ve been doing.”
Family: Married with two children
Before serving in the Assembly, Santabarbara was elected to the Schenectady County Legislature in 2007 and 2011. He also spent eight years in the Army Reserve, with an honorable discharge in 1998. His time in the armed forces influenced him to serve in government with honesty and integrity, he said.
Santabarbara listed reducing taxes and investing in infrastructure as major areas he’s focused on. Prior to serving in the state Assembly, Santabarbara spent 15 years as a civil engineer, something he said has helped him address piping, sewage and drainage problems in areas he represents.
For example, he said, when there were sewage leaks in Amsterdam that allowed waste to flow into the Mohawk River, he was able to find a solution to invest in new piping that would be more efficient than repairing aging infrastructure.
The Rotterdam-native has tried to lead by example, he said. Santabarbara noted that he gave up his outside employment to serve as an assemblyman full time and introduced a bill that limits outside income for state representatives.
“This job is about service, not pay,” he said. “My record shows I put families above politics.”
In addition to ongoing infrastructure issues, Santabarbara said a key focus for him moving forward would be funding for public education. Earlier this year, he rallied to end the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which had redirected millions of dollars in funding away from local schools.
Family: Married with six children
Job: Retired, former U.S. Marshal
“We’ve been able to increase funding every year,” Santabarbara said. “We’ve made some significant strides, but we have more to do.”
Vroman, 55, has also focused on education, saying he believes in increasing control at the local level.
However, the biggest issue facing the 111th District, Vroman said, is a lack of jobs in the area. He said his focus would be on building partnerships to attract manufacturing jobs, something that made the region an economic hub in the past. He has released a jobs plan that also calls for reducing taxes and cutting red tape that restricts businesses.
“We need to reach out and actively market the area,” he said. “We have to be innovative and aggressive.”
The Canajoharie resident pointed to his career in public service as an asset that would make him a strong representative. Vroman was a patrolman in Essex, Vermont, before serving as a deputy U.S. marshal for 28 years, and most recently, he was the Montgomery County undersheriff before retiring in 2014.
“I bring a lifetime worth of experience and wisdom and problem-solving skills that are needed right now in Albany,” Vroman said.
There’s been a lack of vision to tackle problems in the district, he said, adding that he believes infrastructure issues could have been anticipated and addressed proactively.
After falling short in his first bid for the Assembly seat, Vroman said he thinks he’s a better candidate this time around.
His 2014 campaign has provided him some name recognition among voters, he said. And he’s made an effort to meet more residents and let them know they have a choice in the November election.
“I think all of the campaigning I’ve done makes for a good assemblyman,” Vroman said. “People do recognize me now, and it’s a good feeling to go someplace and people want to talk about the issues.”
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.