Two years ago, state senate candidate George Amedore celebrated Thanksgiving with his family hoping that a narrow election-day margin over Cecilia Tkaczyk would hold up. It did not. Tkaczyk prevailed in absentee vote counting by a mere 18 votes. She took her seat on January 12.
Amedore, a former Republican assemblyman from Rotterdam, stormed back last month to beat Democrat Tkaczyk by an unofficial 11,000 votes (in round figures).
Tkaczyk, a former Duanesberg school board member, had carried Ulster County by 9136 votes two years ago. Amedore reduced that margin to just under 2600 this year. Voter turnout in the Ulster portion of the 46th district (Kingston, Saugerties, Woodstock, Ulster, Esopus, Hurley, Lloyd, Marbletown and the town of Kingston) was down by some 13,000 from the 2012 presidential year. Governor Andrew Cuomo carried only Albany County in the five-county district, which includes Ulster, Greene, Schenectady and Montgomery counties.
“Two years ago seems like so long ago,” Amedore reflected in an interview as he looked forward to being sworn in as state senator on January 5.
Legislative leaders and the governor are expected to allocate a $5-billion bank windfall this month. Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver is on record as committing the entire amount to infrastructure repair. Amedore, who probably won’t have a vote, has other ideas.
“Assuming it’s $5 billion,” he said, “I would recommend taking $1.5 billion to eliminate the GAP adjustment (in local school funding) to properly fund upstate schools. I would take another $1.5 billion for upstate infrastructure — and I don’t mean the Tappen Zee bridge. The remaining $2 billion should go to reduce the property-tax burden.”
Like Cuomo, Amedore considers rail safety a federal issue. He says locals should have input into the so-called crude-oil “bomb trains” running through his district. He says he’s still studying issues surrounding the proposed pipeline down the Thruway to carry oil from Canada to the metropolitan area.
Amedore said his call for well-paying jobs resonated with voters in Ulster County. “I would love to see the 46th district and Ulster County become the solar capital of New York,” he said. He has been on record as supporting fracking in order to create jobs.
Amedore plans to establish district offices in Ulster, Greene and Montgomery counties in addition to his office in Albany. It’s practical, he said, for him to take over Tkaczyk’s district office in Kingston at the corner of John and Crown streets. He said he expects a “transitional meeting” with Tkaczyk later this month to assure that ongoing constituent services go forward.
His wish list of committee assignments includes seats on the veterans, transportation, mental health, agriculture and infrastructure committees. He has asked his leadership for chairmanships on economic development, small business, consumer protection and energy. Amedore was the ranking Republican on the Assembly Energy Committee during his five-year tenure in that body.
He says he won’t vote for a pay raise, but allows that he probably won’t get the chance. The legislature would have to vote on the matter this month, before Amedore takes office.
Having defeated two Democratic incumbents in Ulster and Dutchess counties, the Republicans have 32 votes in the 63-member state senate. Amedore said he didn’t know what role breakaway Democrats, five of whom who joined the Republican minority to allow a Republican majority in the previous state senate, will play in the upcoming legislature. “We have a strong Republican majority,” he said, “but I really believe this majority has a willingness and wants to work in a bipartisan way in representing all New Yorkers.”
Tkaczyk did not respond to requests for comment.