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Sen. Marchione retiring after 38-year political career

Sen. Marchione retiring after 38-year political career

Saratoga County political fixture has been in Senate since 2012
Sen. Marchione retiring after 38-year political career
State Sen. Kathy Marchione speaks during a press in Stillwater on October 18.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Daily Gazette Photographer

Editor's note: This story was corrected at 10:48 a.m. on April 26. A previous version incorrectly stated when Marchione announced her retirement.

43rd SENATE DISTRICT -- State Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, plans to retire at the end of the year, ending a 38-year career in which she has been a prominent figure in town, Saratoga County and state politics.

The 63-year-old announced her plans not to seek re-election Wednesday night, saying it was a difficult decision but that it was time to spend more time with family.

"It is the right thing to do for my family," Marchione said. "I am the primary caregiver for my mother, Dorothy, and want to enjoy every day with her. I also have four of the world's most wonderful grandchildren whom I treasure every moment with and want to continue spoiling."

Her district represents voters in eastern Saratoga County, including the city of Saratoga Springs, all of Rensselaer County except for the city of Troy, and northern Columbia County. The district leans consistently Republican, but Marchione's decision is coming in a year when Republican control of the state Senate is at stake.

She has held the seat since 2012, when she ran on a ticket of being more conservative than incumbent Republican state Sen. Roy McDonald following his vote to legalize same-sex marriage in New York state -- and defeated him. She has been an outspoken advocate for veterans' issues and gun rights.

"I am honored to be part of our Senate Republican majority that continues to stand strong for taxpayers; we have done great things, and I know that my Senate Republican colleagues will continue helping New Yorkers achieve and live their dreams," Marchione said in her prepared statement.

Marchione has been involved in politics since she was elected Halfmoon town clerk at the age of 25. She has gone on to serve as a member of the Halfmoon Town Board, as Halfmoon town supervisor, as clerk to the Board of Supervisors and as Saratoga County clerk from 1997 until 2012, when she challenged McDonald.

Following Marchione's retirement announcement, both Saratoga County Republican and Democratic committees said they are in search of a candidate to replace her. 

Saratoga County Republican Chairman Carl Zeilman said that, while no one has expressed interest in running, representatives of the counties in the 43rd Senate District are expected to meet within the next few weeks. 

"The process moving forward is that the counties will interview and vet candidates," he said. "We'll select a candidate who is not only skillful, but dedicated to the community as well."

Zeilman said he is confident the Republican Party would retain the Senate seat. 

"We'll put up a highly qualified candidate like we always do," he said, referencing Marchione and former Sen. Joseph Bruno. 

The type of candidate Zeilman would like to see take Marchione's place is someone who is community-oriented and has knowledge of the issues, including the impact of legislation on small businesses.

"The policies by [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] have had a negative impact on small businesses across the state, as well as taxpayers, and we've seen a mass exodus of people leaving this state as a result," he said. "The person who represents this district must be able and ready to fight for small businesses and taxpayers."

Zeilman said the vetting process for candidates includes a question-and-answer session. 

"The individual who is selected needs to represent the people, and that's our primary focus," he said. 

"It's going to take a big pair of shoes to fill [Marchione's] spot," said Rensselaer County Republican Committee Chairman John Rustin. "We'll have to wait and see who will come forward to run. I'm sure it'll be a day or two before someone comes forward, because they'll have to talk to their families about running."

Saratoga County Democratic Committee Chairman Todd Kerner said Marchione's decision to retire is a result of her "seeing the writing on the wall."

"New Yorkers have had enough of her extremely conservative agenda," he said. "The special election highlighted that people want leadership that can work together instead of the chaos we're seeing in Washington and the chaos she brings to the table."

Kerner said Marchione's retirement presents an opportunity for the Democratic Committee. 

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to provide the voters with a clear choice of someone who will work to get things accomplished," he said. "We want someone who will work on both sides of the aisle."

Kerner said Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake,  is a prime example of the type of person he would like to see replace Marchione. 

"She represents everyone no matter the party," he said. "We're looking for someone who can work with both parties to find solutions and put New Yorkers first instead of their own agenda."

The Saratoga County Democratic Committee is scheduled to meet on May 14. 

"Endorsements will happen in May, and the candidate will need to be ready to hit the streets running during the first week of June for petitioning," he said. 

Kerner added, "While I wish [Marchione] well in her retirement, we're looking at this as a fresh start and a great opportunity. We're excited."

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