Two-term Rosendale councilwoman Jen Metzger announced on February 15 that she had filed the official paperwork to launch a campaign committee as she explores a run for New York’s 42nd District State Senate seat. She is expected to make a formal announcement about her candidacy in March.
A registered Democrat, Metzger, 53, was also endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families Party in her last two elections. Prior to becoming a member of the Town Board in January 2014, she served as chair of the town’s Environmental Commission for six years, as commission liaison to the Planning Board for three years, as deputy town supervisor from November 2011 until January 2013 and as a member of the Zoning Code Review Committee from 2008 to 2013. She was narrowly defeated by Jeanne Walsh in the 2011 election for town supervisor.
Metzger is also the director of Citizens for Local Power, a local not-for-profit organization that provides a voice for community interests at the New York State Public Service Commission, serves as a local utility watchdog and promotes a more equitable, affordable, locally based clean-energy economy. Her tenure on the Town Board has been characterized by a strong interest in environmental and energy issues, spearheading such initiatives as replacing all streetlamps in the Town of Rosendale with LED bulbs and the Finding Rosendale street signage project. She also serves as the town’s eyes and ears on the Pilgrim Pipelines, proposed to run through Rosendale along with other New York State Thruway communities.
A native of Queens, Metzger earned a PhD in Political Science from Rutgers University and a BA in Government from Oberlin College. She and her husband, John Schwartz, former chair of the Rosendale Democratic Committee, have lived in the town for 17 years and are the parents of three sons.
District 42 includes portions of Ulster, Orange and Delaware Counties, as well as all of Sullivan County, and has been represented by Republican John Bonacic, 75, since 1998. In the 2016 election, Bonacic defeated Pramilla Malick of Minisink — a relatively unknown candidate who won the Democratic nomination via write-in vote — by a 61-39 percentage margin, after having run unopposed in 2014 and 2012. “The State Senate is not supposed to be a lifelong occupation,” noted Metzger. “We need people in office with a fresh perspective, an understanding of our communities’ needs and the energy and principled commitment it takes to meaningfully improve the quality of life of the people in our district.”
Long regarded as a Republican stronghold, the New York State Senate currently includes 30 Republicans, 28 Democrats and five “swing” seats who identify with the Independent Democratic Caucus but typically vote with the Republican bloc. If a threatened “blue wave” of new Democratic candidates propelled by popular disgruntlement with the Trump administration maintains its momentum, it seems feasible that the State Senate may be dislodged from GOP control this coming November.
Metzger said her immediate plan is to “focus on talking with community leaders and voters in the district,” gauging broader public response to her candidacy before making it official. “Hearing from people is really important.” More information on the candidate and her platform will be available shortly at www.jenmetzger.com, a website currently under construction.