Registered Democrats may outnumber registered Republicans in Schenectady County, but Liz Lemery Joy is doing all she can to change that.
A Glens Falls native and Glenville resident, Joy was named president of the Republican Women of Schenectady County in January of this year and in the short time since she took over she has infused new life into the club. With just over 20 women in the group in January, the number has swelled to over 70, and you can add to that group a list of associate members (male) that just reached 20. Wednesday at Scotia's Turf Tavern, Joy's group will hold its monthly meeting and the guest speaker will be former Republican Congressman, Chris Gibson.
A realtor for Caldwell Banker and the mother of four adult children, Joy is hoping to bring more people to her women's club and that they in turn, if they're not already, will become active and registered Republicans.
"My focus right now is on making our club, Republican Women of Schenectady County, one of the largest voices in our state, helping to steer our state and our country in the direction it needs to go," said Joy. "I think we're well on our way, and I think a grass roots group like ours can be very important in the political arena. We're the voice of the people, and if you get enough voices that gather together and really believe in something, you can be very powerful. That's when the legislators start to listen."
Joy graduated from Glens Falls High School in 1986 and went to Simmons College in Boston, where she met her husband. A double major in international business management and French, Joy instead became a stay-at-home mom and raised four kids while her husband, a physician, served in the U.S. Military for 12 years at several bases around the country. In 2003 they moved back to upstate New York and eventually settled in Glenville.
She worked on the 2014 campaign of New York Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam), and in the summer of 2016 had a book published, "Salt and Light: The Christians Guide to Voting." She occasionally writes a blog for the Albany Times-Union on religion, and attends Harvest Church in Clifton Park.
Q: Were you always politically active?
A: I was really involved with my four children; I had four in five years, and I chose to be involved in what they were doing. I didn't really become politically attuned to what was going on until 9/11. I think September of 2001 was a turning point for a lot of Americans. Everyone's ears perked up. I thought, 'who are these people that did this to the Twin Towers, what was their motive and why do they want to kills us?' I started paying more attention because I realized, if you will, the cost of freedom.
Q: Were you always a church going person?
A: I would say that I grew up being taken to church, and during my college years I went away from it for a while. I had grown up Catholic, and so I'd go on Easter and Christmas, but that was about it. When we first got married, we lived in this community of physician residents, and they had a Bible study that they invited us to, and that's how I really got started back into it. Then I wanted to go, I wanted to read on my own and ask questions.
Q: Why did you write a book, "Salt and Light," about voting as a Christian?
A: I started to see the direction our country was going in back in 2008 and I found it very concerning to me. I felt the direction we were headed represented a lot of socialism, and there seemed to be an increased amount of animosity toward people of faith. I started writing a blog to offer a biblical and Christian point of view with conservative values. The book came about because i was appalled that only half of the Christians in the country were voting, and only one out of four Christian women were voting. I know maybe they think they shouldn't be involved in politics because it is nasty or they thought it was too worldly. But I wanted people to know that we can use the vote to steer the country in the direction we want it to go.
Q: Who was your preferred Republican presidential candidate in 2016?
A: I voted for Ted Cruz in the primary. I would listen to all the candidates and follow what they were all saying, and he ended up emerging in the front for me.
Q: Do you support our current president?
A: I definitely support our president and I like what he's doing for the country. I like that he is putting America in a position to lead again in the world, and I support that very much. I was never going to vote for Hilary [Clinton]. Everything about her disappointed me. In their 2016 debate, she said that babies in the womb have no rights up until the time of delivery. Donald Trump stood right there and said he supported life. Abortion was the single most important issue for me. Where somebody places value on another person's life, that's where their moral compass is, and from that moral compass is how they're going to govern in public office, from the school board to the White House.
Q: Do you have any reservations about the president?
A: I think it's refreshing that he tweets. I think the American people are so fed up with lies and coverups, it's refreshing to have a president who speaks directly to the people and bypasses the layers of bureaucracy that so many of us are tired of. I think it would benefit him to think about some of his comments maybe before tweeted. When I hear that he groped a woman, that gives me pause because that is inexcusable. But I have to weigh all that with where he stands on the issues, and I had to make a choice. One of the things I like about President Trump is Mike Pence. Having a vice-president like him was very important to me."
Q: How do you feel about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and immigration?
A: I don't want to see families ripped apart. If people came here a long time ago, with children, and they've raised a family and are law-abiding citizens who are working, I think we should be able to find a way to accelerate them toward becoming legal. I don't support sending those law-abiding people back.
Q: Do you identify yourself as an evangelical Christian?
A: There are a lot of definitions out there. I would identify myself this way: I am a Bible-believing Christian, and I believe that Jesus is my lord and savior.
Q: How do you feel about the issue of gun control?
A: Have you ever tried to get a gun in New York? There's a lot of regulation already in place. But I definitely support the Second Amendment, and while that's a pretty broad statement I think there are already a lot of regulations in place. I do support having armed guards at our schools. It's very sad we've reached that point in America, but I think every child should feel safe at school, and every parent should think their child is going to be safe.
Registered Democrats and Republicans through the years in Schenectady County
Democrats 32,738; Republicans 27,602
Democrats 34,601; Republicans 26,160
Democrats 34,013; Republicans 24,936
Democrats 34,556; Republicans 24,037
Democrats 34,571; Republicans 23, 245
Democrats 35,398; Republicans 22,977