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Gazette Endorsements 2018

Gazette Endorsements 2018

Board considers candidates' experiences, solutions for issues affecting constituents
Gazette Endorsements 2018
Election signs on Milton Ave on peoples lawns in Ballston Spa, on Thursday, November 1, 2018.
Photographer: Erica Miller/Gazette Photographer

The Daily Gazette Editorial Board issued endorsements in several state and national races this year, as well as a recommendation on the Saratoga Springs charter changes.

The board met in person for 30-60 minutes on the record with each of the local candidates for state Assembly, state Senate and U.S. Congress, as well as with Attorney General candidate Keith Wofford. We spoke to Attorney General candidate Tish James and Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro in a phone conference. We were not able to schedule a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Candidates were invited to give a brief opening statement to introduce themselves and highlight their priorities, then were asked questions by members of the Editorial Board.

The Gazette Editorial Board consists of Publisher John D’Augustine, Editor Miles Reed, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and board members Kelly Murray and Paula Opel.

More from Capital Region Election Guide 2018

Endorsements were made following discussions among the board members. Board members considered, among other factors, the candidate’s experiences, grasp of the issues and solutions that directly affect their constituents, positions on relevant issues, and other intangibles. Each endorsement reflected majority support by the board.

Below is a summary of our endorsements. Click on the candidate's name for a link to the full endorsement editorial.
 

GOVERNOR

Marc Molinaro (R)
Our endorsement for Molinaro was rooted as much in his success as a local government official and county executive as it was in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inability in his current term to move the state forward on reducing taxes, addressing corruption, improving infrastructure and advocating for greater transparency. The board felt Molinaro will bring fresh ideas and a fresh approach to a governorship stalled on the rails. The board felt a new voice was needed in the executive branch, and Molinaro has the skills and experience to lead the state ahead.

Also online

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Keith Wofford (R)
After the resignation of shamed Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the office needs a fresh infusion of energy and a refocusing of its direction, particularly when it comes to addressing state government corruption. Wofford has extensive experience as a big-city law firm manager relevant to the types of cases he’d be handling as attorney general, and he isn’t waiting for the Legislature or governor to give him the green light to move forward. He also recognizes the impact the office has on discouraging business through overly aggressive persecution and has vowed to temper it. His energy and his independence give him the edge over Democrat Letitia “Tish” James. James was equally as impressive and smart as Wofford, but the board felt she would take a more conventional approach to the office and might be tempered in her efforts by her close ties to the Democratic establishment.


STATE SENATE

43rd Senate District, Aaron Gladd (D)
Gladd heavily impressed the board with his personal achievements against a difficult upbringing, his experience working for both Republicans and Democrats in government, his knowledge of the issues related to the Senate district, and his detailed knowledge of potential solutions. Gladd’s Republican opponent in the race to fill Sen. Kathleen Marchione’s vacant seat, former Marchione aide Daphne Jordan, was severely lacking in specifics about the district’s problems and her ability to solve them.

49th Senate District, Jim Tedisco (R)
The board was swayed by Tedisco’s long record of advocacy for his constituents, both as a longtime member of the minority party in the Assembly and his first two years in the Republican-controlled Senate. Never afraid to speak his mind and push for legislation that matters to him gave him the edge over Michelle Ostrelich, who has an impressive resume but was lacking in her grasp of Adirondack issues that are vital to the sprawling district.

46th Senate District, George Amedore (R)
The two-term incumbent has become one of the Legislature’s leading experts on the state’s substance abuse problem and its impact not only on those directly affected by it, but also its impact on taxes, law enforcement, corrections and social programs. As a small-business owner, he’s well positions to push for initiatives that relieve state businesses of burdensome regulations and expenses. His opponent, Democrat Patricia Strong, was well versed in business and environmental issues. But she couldn’t match Amedore’s experience and abilities.

More from Capital Region Election Guide 2018


STATE ASSEMBLY

110th Assembly District, Phil Steck (D)
The incumbent assemblyman won our endorsement for his hard work, intellect and careful analysis of issues that are important to his district such as insurance costs, anti-curruption legislation and aid to localities. His opponent, former police detective Christopher Carey, focused on law-enforcement and security issues, but lacked a firm grasp of other issues like school funding.

111th Assembly District Angelo Santabarbara (D)
We supported Santabarbara in large part because of his hands-on constituent service, his effectiveness in getting legislation passed, and his advocacy for legislation that has a direct impact on his constituents. The board felt that Santabarbara’s opponent, Schenectady County legislator Brian McGarry, wouldn’t be able to match the incumbent’s constituent service and effectiveness.

113th Assembly District, Carrie Woerner (D)
Our endorsement of the incumbent Woerner reflected her clear enunciation of the issues that directly affect her constituents, her almost wonky attention to detail and her broader knowledge of approaches to improving jobs, health care and agriculture. We were impressed by the knowledge and poise of her young opponent, Morgan Zegers, a recent college graduate, but felt Woerner’s experience and skills made her the far better choice.

118th Assembly District, Keith Rubino (D)
In a race with no incumbent, we favored the young Rubino over the more experienced Robert Smullen, in large part because of Rubino’s background, grasp of the issues, our belief in his ability to accomplish his goals and the fresh perspective he would bring to Albany. A key factor against Smullen was his recent arrest* on felony charges alleging he tried to illegally claim a veterans tax exemption in two communities.

 

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U.S. CONGRESS

19th Congressional District, Antonio Delgado (D)
Delgado, a native of Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood, Harvard-educated lawyer and Rhodes Scholar, impressed the board with his intellect, background and understanding of the issues related to the region. The board felt he would more aggressively work for legislation to improve the lives of his constituents than the more wonky incumbent, John Faso. The board also felt that other than being strong on agricultural issues, Faso hasn’t been as effective as he could be as a member of the Republican majority in the House in terms of health care and taxes. We suspect the learning curve for Delgado will be short and that he will quickly develop into an effective and attentive representative.

20th Congressional District, Paul Tonko (D)
Tonko has been a longtime public servant who has been effective, even as a member of the minority party in Congress, of influencing legislation related to the environment, infrastructure (particularly aging water pipes) and developing renewable energy. His opponent, Republican Joe Vitollo, offered general platitudes about knowing what it’s like to work in the real world. But he couldn’t compete in terms of the depth of knowledge about the issues and his ability to be effective in Congress.

21st Congressional District, Elise Stefanik (R)
The board was impressed with the young incumbent’s understanding of the issues related to her largely rural district, particularly on health care, the economy and the military (Fort Drum), and on her willingness to depart with the Republican establishment and President Trump when their positions might adversely affect North Country residents, such as on trade and immigration. Her opponent, former St. Lawrence County legislator Tedra Cobb, has demonstrated her understanding of the district’s needs. But she’s waged an uneven campaign that stumbled over issues such as gun control and healthcare. The board felt Stefanik was meeting the needs of her constituents and was an effective voice for them in Washington.

BALLOT QUESTION

Yes on Saratoga Springs charter changes

After voters last year narrowly defeated a proposal to replace the city's unusual commission form of government with a more common arrangement, Saratoga Springs officials set out to tweak the city charter to address some of the concerns expressed by supporters of the change. Among them were inefficiencies in duties and a lack of citywide citizen representation on the City Council. These two proposals attempt to address those by shifting tasks to where they are more appropriate and adding two at-large members to the council. While the changes won't undo the inherent flaws in the whole system, they will make it better.

* Correction: An earlier version incorrectly stated that 118th District Assembly candidate Robert Smullen had been indicted on a felony charge. He was arrested by State Police on a felony charge, but a grand jury has not returned an indictment.

More from Capital Region Election Guide 2018

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