49th STATE SENATE DISTRICT -- A Niskayuna woman has launched a Democratic challenge to Republican State Sen. James Tedisco in the 49th state Senate District.
Michelle Ostrelich, 46, a lawyer who in recent years has been a stay-at-home mom, is campaigning for the Senate seat on progressive issues in the district, which stretches from Schenectady and Niskayuna northwest through the heart of the central and western Adirondacks.
"I believe we need a strong advocate for this district in the New York state Senate and strong leadership," Ostrelich said on Friday. "We need to bring jobs to this district and ensure our working families can feel secure. We need leadership that cares, universal health care for all, fully funded public schools, and we need to pass the Child Victim Act. That's why I'm running."
She has also spoken out in support of students who have rallied for new gun control measures this spring in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school massacre and other shootings.
"Politicians in Washington, D.C., and Albany have lost site of American values -- leaving hard-working people behind," Ostrelich wrote on a "Michelle for State Senate" Facebook page. "I believe in policies that grow our middle class, ensure that health care is affordable for our families and make saving for the future a reality. I believe in policies that embrace families and deliver opportunities regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, gender identity and sexual preference."
Ostrelich said she is also running for love of the district, in which she has lived for 13 years. In the Niskayuna community, Ostrelich has been the co-president of a parent-teacher organization, president of the board of a community center and trustee of a local hospital foundation. She serves on the town's Zoning Board of Appeals.
Her husband, Dr. Howard Schlossberg, serves on the Niskayuna Board of Education. They have two daughters who attend Niskayuna schools.
Schenectady County Democratic Chairman Joe Landry said Ostrelich is the only Democratic candidate for the seat that he was aware of, though the county Democratic Committee won't make endorsements until a June 3 meeting.
"Michelle is a very good candidate, and we're very pleased she has thrown her hat in the ring," said Landry, a former Niskayuna town supervisor.
With four Republican state senators having announced plans to retire within the past week, "we think it's going to be a very good year for Democrats," Landry said.
Tedisco said he will be running for re-election on a platform that includes reducing taxes, helping small businesses create new job opportunities, and a gun platform that includes improved school security, expanded access to mental health counseling and parole reform.
Tedisco, 67, of Glenville, was elected two years ago to represent the 49th Senate District, defeating Democrat Chad Putman. The seat was held for decades by state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, of Niskayuna, who retired in 2016. Before that, Tedisco was a longtime member of the state Assembly.
"When the session is over and it's time for campaigning, as always, I will run an upbeat and positive campaign focused on my record of accomplishments and being a strong voice for the constituents which helped me get nearly 70 percent of the vote in the 49th Senate District two years ago," Tedisco said in a prepared statement.
The 49th Senate District includes all or parts of Schenectady, Fulton, Saratoga, Hamilton and Herkimer counties, and it is geographically the second-largest in the state. It has a strongly Republican-leaning voter enrollment: There were 72,070 Republicans, 59,729 Democrats and 46,785 voters not enrolled in a party, according to the latest figures from the state Board of Elections.
Senators serve two-year terms at a base salary of $79,500 annually.