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Gillibrand Tours Amsterdam Business, Weighs In On Republican Take-Back

Lucas Willard

On a tour of an upstate New York business Thursday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Paul Tonko, and other officials shared their thoughts on the shift in power in Washington and New York State.

Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Tonko, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, and others visited wholesale distributor Hill & Markes, Inc. in Amsterdam. During a tour, the politicians were introduced to employees, and visited a training center and a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified distribution facility.

“This is an absolute success story about a family business who’s been in business since the beginning of the century, who are creating jobs and making things that people need to buy. And that’s exciting,” said Gillibrand.

Fresh off an election day where Republicans gained enough ground to take control of the U.S. Senate and cement sole control of the New York Senate, the Democrats said it was a tough night for the party.

Gillibrand, who was not up for reelection, called the Republican take-back a “significant wave” and said she believes many of her colleagues lost their seats due to the country’s frustration with Washington gridlock.

“I really admire my colleagues and I really was very hopeful they would get reelected. In some cases they didn’t and that was very, personally, disappointing to me. But I very much have felt the voter frustration and anger around the state and around the country.”

The Democrat said she would continue to work on the important issues that she considers non-partisan.

“I’m going to try to make sure we can tackle the student loan crisis and let people can refinance their loans. I’m going to work on sexual assault on college campuses and sexual assault in the military. All those issues are widely bipartisan and they’re not ideologic issues.”

Congressman Tonko, who handily won re-election to a fourth term against Republican Jim Fischer in the 20th district, said he would continue to tour businesses to gain and understanding of their challenges, and also advocated for raising the minimum wage and building the middle class to strengthen businesses’ customer bases.

“The beat goes on. You get reelected and you’re out there doing the job, understanding what the stresses may be for small business, what partnerships we need to encourage and policies.”

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who represents Montgomery and portions of Albany, and Schenectady Counties, won a second term in a tight contest against Republican Pete Vroman.

Santabarbara was asked if Governor Andrew Cuomo did enough to help his party keep control of the state Senate.

“You know, when it came to election time, I felt I had a strong connection. I was getting good responses at the door. Whether or not was happening in the governor’s race, for me, locally, it was something that, people look at me as my own person. Not any particular party, but a person that’s looking to get things done. And you know, for an assembly term, it’s a short term, it’s only two years, so you’ve got to find out what the priorities are and you’ve got to get things accomplished and deliver for our families and our communities.”

Senator Gillibrand also participated in a roundtable discussion with community leaders in Fulton County about efforts to boost local employment and businesses.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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