Every candidate for office says “I will work across the aisle to get things done.” But how many of them, when they get into office can actually demonstrate that they work in a bipartisan manner?
Being Purple in a Red and Blue World
When I took office in January 2015, I committed myself to representing all 135,000 people of the 113th Assembly District. My pledge was to be a voice for all of my constituents without regard to party. I set out to be decidedly purple in a very partisan red and blue environment.
- Be engaged and accessible to people throughout the district. I maintain offices in Saratoga Springs and Fort Edward and hold open office hours in both. As of February 2016, I have held 14 Town Hall meetings to discuss issues, concerns, priorities with community members. I have toured farms and businesses; met with business leaders at Farm Bureau and Chamber of Commerce events. I have convened groups of fire fighters and faith leaders. I have visited all of the schools and spent time in classrooms throughout the district. All of these encounters give me a chance to hear from a broad representation of people in the 16 communities that make up the district. I take the opportunity to pose questions about policy issues that I anticipate having to vote on, so that I can get a real understanding of how my constituents want me to vote on important issues.
- It’s all about balance. In a district as large and diverse as the 113th, there are often competing interests. Being accessible and engaged helps me to understand those competing interests. I focus, then, on finding balance, For example, I recognize that there is no business without employees and no employees without business, so we must strive for public policy that respects the needs of both employers and employees and doesn’t set the needs of one group against the needs of the other.
- Thoughtfully and carefully review legislation. Each year, the Assembly votes on more than one thousand bills. I read each one and consider what impact it would have on individuals and businesses in the 113th Assembly District. I think about whether the bill expands state government and whether it takes away Home Rule. I consider whether the proposal is consistent with the culture of independence and hard work that are the hallmarks of our communities. When the subject of the bill is one with which I have no experience, I seek out experts in Saratoga and Washington counties to help me understand the implications of what is being proposed. My voting record shows me voting with the majority on some issues, and with the minority on others, but mostly what it shows is that I vote based on my understanding of our district.
- When it comes to developing legislation, be pragmatic not idealogical. I think my constituents sent me to Albany to get things done — not to grandstand on issues. Every piece of legislation I introduce has a majority sponsor in the Senate. Every piece of legislation I sign on to as a co-sponsor, has a majority sponsor in the Senate. Why? Because in order to create change through legislation, it must be supported in both the Assembly and the Senate. In 2015, I and my Republican partners in the Senate were successful in getting seven bills through both the Assembly and the Senate, of those five were signed into law. It’s about getting things done.