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NYS Republican Senator Kicks Off Candidate Forums In 41st District

WAMC/Allison Dunne

A Republican New York state senator is working to ensure that his neighboring district returns to GOP hands in November.

Republican Greg Ball is the state Senate Republican Committee co-chairman, and is hosting a series of forums aimed at unseating the Democratic senator in the 41st District – freshman Terry Gipson. He held the first forum Wednesday night in Putnam County.

“We never should’ve lost this seat and if we can remain united regardless of who comes out of the primary, we will win this seat back," Greg Ball says. "Senator Gipson does not represent the need of this district to have an independent voice, a truly independent voice, or the conservative base that is certainly a big part of this Dutchess-Putnam district. We can take him out, we just need to remain united unlike in the previous cycle.”

Gipson’s 2012 win was not decided until about one month after the November 2012 election. Longtime Republican state Senator Stephen Saland conceded the race in mid-December after a final count of absentee ballots and affidavits. The three-way race featured Conservative Neil DiCarlo who ran to challenge Saland’s 2011 vote for the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York. Ball says this time around, the Republicans need to stay united or divided they will fall.

Ball’s kickoff forum in Putnam Valley Wednesday night showcased one candidate – Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Rob Rolison.

“And it’s not going to be an easy task but we need to get that seat back because I firmly believe that the future of the state runs through the 41st District," Rob Rolison says. "I think we have to have a Republican majority, clear majority, in the state senate.”

Rolison’s late father Jay Rolison represented Dutchess County in the state senate. Rob Rolison, who was a cop for 29 years, could be part of a crowded Republican primary field. A number of names of names have been bandied about. One is City of Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik, who has begun fundraising efforts. As for Rolison, he says it is time to move up the political ladder.

“I want to contribute at the state level. I have been a county legislator since 2003 I have been in leadership since 2010," Rolison says.

Anne Lavalle is from Fishkill, in Dutchess County. She says her vote could be based on one issue – Common Core educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English Language Arts and mathematics.

“Anybody who tells me that I will break the vice grip the government has on your children they’re gonna get my vote. No matter the party. This is important," says Anne Lavalle. "And I think we as a Conservative Republican committee group, we need to recognize that fact, that this crosses the party lines and if you are serious about having unity in the conservative republican community you better come out in front on this, because I am not the only one.”

In fact a few of the roughly 40 audience members spoke out against the Common Core, saying it needs to be scrapped. Ball says the rest of the forums for 41st Senate District Republican candidates will be held in Dutchess County.

“Look it’s very difficult to take out any incumbent just because the entrenched interests and the amount of money behind them, so what we want to do is build, go back to the real way to run a campaign, which is to use the grass roots. And to build a little bit of energy from the bottom up, and that’s what these are all about," says Greg Ball.

While Republican voters were gathered at the VFW Hall in Putnam Valley, Gipson was across the county in Carmel, meeting with Putnam County legislators, discussing such issues as mandate relief.  Asked for comment about Ball’s forum, Gipson released a statement saying, quote, “I'm focused on serving all of my constituents in Dutchess and Putnam by creating jobs, and reducing the cost of living and doing business in the Hudson Valley." End quote.

Cathy Croft is chair of the Putnam County Democratic Committee.

“Senator Gipson represents all people. So as far as being unified, if being unified is just being unified with republicans and conservatives, I feel that’s not representing all people in New York State,” says Cathy Croft.

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is a forum series co-host. Rolison says he supports repealing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s gun control legislation, the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or SAFE Act.

The 41st Senate District includes most of Dutchess County and the Putnam County towns of Kent, Philipstown, and Putnam Valley.

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