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Republicans hope to make gains in New York state Senate, Assembly today

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Lucas Willard
Polls are open until 9.

If there’s a national “red wave” in today’s midterm elections, it could mean changes in the Democratically-controlled New York state legislature.

Major issues driving voters to the polls include public safety, the economy and reproductive rights.

The race for the newly drawn 46th state Senate District seat pits Democratic incumbent Neil Breslin against Greene County Republican Rich Amedure. The district includes the city of Albany and the towns of Bethlehem, Berne, Coeymans, Guilderland, Knox, New Scotland, Rensselaerville and Westerlo. Breslin, who currently represents the 44th district and is seeking a 14th term, says he's running on his record.

"We've had a very, very hostile environment in elective office. And I compare it to when I first started. It's frightening," Breslin said.

Amedure, a distant cousin of former state Senator George Amedore, argues government is not working for residents.

“I want to get down there and put this thing back on the tracks and get it rolling,” said Amedure.

In the redrawn 44th Senate District, which includes a portion of Schenectady County and all of Saratoga County, Democrat Michelle Ostrelich and Republican Jim Tedisco face off in a rematch. The two battled for the 49th district seat in 2018. Tedisco says the state is overtaxed. "We have to incentivize people to stay here." Ostrelich says inflation needs taming. "What we need to do is raise wages by attracting better paying jobs and careers," Ostrelich said.

The redrawn 43rd district encompasses all of Rensselaer County, northwestern Albany County including Cohoes, Watervliet, Colonie and all but the northern edge of Washington County. Republican state Assemblyman Jake Ashby of the 107th district is pitted against former Democratic Rensselaer County Executive candidate Andrea Smyth. Ashby favors full repeal of the state’s bail reform laws.

"We need to do a better job of crafting these laws and not just getting them done to check a box, to say that we hit this initiative," Ashby said. "I am definitely interested and know that the bail versus jail discussion is going to be part of my first session in the state Senate," said Smyth. "So I am prepared to look at what is working and what isn't."

Two incumbents are vying for the redrawn 41st Senate district seat: first-term 46th district Democrat Michelle Hinchey faces off against Republican Sue Serino, who has represented the 41st since 2015. The new district includes parts of Columbia, Dutchess, Greene and Ulster counties.

In the Assembly, Carrie Woerner, the Democratic incumbent in the 113th district, has been particularly supportive of farmers. She says they can’t control revenue as they fight rising costs because commodity prices are set on a nationwide basis.

“Inflation is rampant, costs are up for everybody, and never no place more so than on farms," Woerner said.

Her Republican challenger Dave Catalfamo says upstate Democrats find themselves marginalized by downstaters’ agenda.

"There's no other way to articulate that. We need change in Albany," said Catalfamo. The new 113th includes portions of Saratoga County including the City of Saratoga Springs, as well as Glens Falls in southern Warren County.

Incumbent Republican Mary Beth Walsh is being challenged for her 112th district seat by Andrew McAdoo. The district covers parts of Saratoga, Schenectady, and Fulton Counties. Walsh, running for a fourth term, contends New York has taken the wrong approach to climate change, setting unattainable goals. She adds she'll vote no on the Environmental Bond Act, while McAdoo says he'll vote yes when he flips his ballot over.

"I think this Green New Deal for New York is going to be very costly to the average taxpayer and homeowner in the state," said Walsh. McAdoo said, "We have to take action, but we need to do so in a way that isn't punitive to rural areas."

Walsh says New York's gun laws are already overly restrictive, while McAdoo says he doesn't "support extremist gun laws" but does favor strict background checks.

The 111th district encompasses most of Schenectady County including the city of Schenectady and part of Montgomery County. Incumbent Democrat Angelo Santabarbara has been in the Assembly since 2013. He's up against Republican Joseph Mastroianni, who came under fire when he ran for Rotterdam Town Board for posting Facebook articles sharing extremist views on COVID and 9/11.

Incumbent Assemblyman Phil Steck, a Democrat, is being challenged in the 110th district by Republican Alexandra Velella. Steck was an Albany County legislator for more than a decade before his election to the Assembly in 2012. Velella is the daughter of Bronx Republican Guy Velella, who served nearly three decades in both the Assembly and Senate. Velella says her run was prompted by what she perceives as "failed policies that have made New York unsafe and unaffordable."

"I have seen this community and the state devolve because of soft on crime policies of a single party Democrat rule," Velella said.

Both Steck and Velella are attorneys. Redistricting has left Steck less confident of victory than he was in previous elections.

"My position is less certain," said Steck. "And the top of the ticket is less certain. I mean, there's a big difference between running with, say Barack Obama, than running with Kathy Hochul."

In the 109th Assembly District, Democrat Pat Fahy is being challenged by former Albany mayoral candidate Republican Alicia Purdy. In the neighboring 108th incumbent John McDonald is running unopposed.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.