Michelle Hinchey was sworn in to her second term as New York state senator inside the vast space of the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory on the afternoon of January 7. The old Saugerties warehouse that used to produce “those iconic black-and-white marble notebooks” was filled with wellwishers, fellow politicos, supporters, social climbers, business people and even a few millionaires.
The speakers’ list was comprised of personages of remarkable pedigree: U.S. Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, state senate majority leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado, and state comptroller Thomas DiNapoli among them. Congressmember Pat Ryan had been held up the days-long hullabaloo created while the United States House of Representatives had to vote 15 separate times to choose its Republican speaker.
Schumer particularly seemed to relish the moment as he spoke to the crowd about the re-elected state senator, whom he termed Mighty Michelle. “It’s a great day for this senatorial district,” said Schumer. “Public service is in her veins. She comes from a family steeped in public service and she got here the old-fashioned way, she earned it.” Ever the happy warrior, Schumer ticked down the list of some of Hinchey’s accomplishments. The amazing 50 bills passed into law over her first term, “the most agricultural funding in state history two years in a row.” Hinchey had taken on food insecurity, making history by codifying the first farm-to-food-bank program. And dozens of other causes.
“And she won the prestigious Nelson A. Rockefeller Award,” said Schumer. “Remember back in the day when there was something called Rockefeller Republicans?”
Elected now to her second term, Hinchey will again chair the upper house’s agriculture committee.
Aidan O’Connor, a former Greene County legislator who is a first responder, spoke of a piece of legislation especially near and dear to his own heart that he had been advocating for 15 years, allowing blood to be delivered and administered by air medical services. Hinchey carried this legislation in 2022 and got it passed.
It has helped more than 100 patients so far, and will help thousands more in the future. O’Connor had seen injured people receive the blood transfusions transported to them and had seen the helicopter land on the helipad.
“Typically, our interactions with elected officials revolve around pancake breakfasts and barbecues,” said O’Connor. “But Michelle is different. She listened to our concerns, asked us questions, and she would use that input, work out solutions, and take them to back to Albany. Many elected officials will state out loud that they bring blood, sweat and tears back to their districts, but senator Hinchey literally brought blood back to hers.”