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Rensselaer County Executive, facing cancer and a trial, delivers State of the County address

 Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin gave his sixth State of the County address at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom in Troy.
Dave Lucas
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin gave his sixth State of the County address at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom in Troy.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin gave his sixth State of the County address today in Troy.

McLaughlin delivered his most upbeat address to date, telling those gathered at the Franklin Terrace Ballroom that he was proud of what he called the county's "unprecedented success."

"We are leaders across the state in reducing property taxes with five property tax reductions in a row," said McLaughlin. "Expansion of services, already parts of our ambitious plan to improve a certain services and efficiencies have been fulfilled. And our work continues to benefit residents today and tomorrow. Protection of your quality of life and your personal freedoms. No one makes it a higher priority than my administration. Where we have encountered adversity, we have responded with accomplishment. Wherever there has been a challenge, we've answered with competence and compassion. Where there have been obstacles we've created opportunity. That seem hopeful energy, the focus on doing more while spending less, not accepting excuses when there is room for excellence and advancement. We'll continue this year just as it has in every year of my administration. “

The second-term staunch Republican credited himself with leading the county through the darkest days of the pandemic.

“When a psychopath governor tried to force COVID positive patients into our nursing home, as he did all over the state killing over 10,000, I said not now. Not here. Not ever will that happen at Van Rensselaer Manor," said McLaughlin. "And we saved the lives of our seniors. When state inspectors then tried to enter that same nursing home without showing proof of a negative test, just as my employees were required to do on a weekly basis, I threw them out. Well, that didn't make me popular with Andrew Cuomo or his gang of thugs. I stood strong for people of this county. I was right every time and I would do it all over again.”

McLaughlin says property tax decreases have become standard fare in his annual county budgets.

“Property taxpayers in Rensselaer County now pay a tax rate that is comparable to what they paid in 2002," McLaughlin said. "Nothing else you're paying is remotely close to what you paid in 2002. In 2018, when I took office, the county tax rate was $5.84 per 1000. The tax rate is now $4.24 per 1000. And that again, 27% In five years, those property tax reductions, they encourage growth, they encourage investment in our county, and we are seeing the results of that work.”

McLaughlin also touched on increased sales tax revenue, the county's ongoing road paving initiative, renovations and new construction of county offices, including a planned new Department of Motor Vehicles building, and reducing county debt. And he lauded redistricting’s effects on Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose 21st district now includes most of Rensselaer County and who will be opening a local office in East Greenbush.

“One of the top ranking members right now in Congress, noted McLaughlin. "That's really good for Rensselaer County to have her local like that. She's going to be able to provide attention and hopefully resources to our county. As we look to improve infrastructure and quality of life services. We forged a close working relationship with Elise and her team. They certainly impressed us as they navigate the highest levels of national politics, and they focus heavily. When you talk to Elise, you know, she focuses real heavily on constituent issues.”

Recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, the 59-year old McLaughlin assured the gathering he'll be fine, as doctors caught the appearance of the malady early. McLaughlin has rejected calls to resign after New York Attorney General Tish James alleged he stole thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while serving in the Assembly. He was indicted on two felony charges, which he calls "nonsense," and faces a forthcoming trial. James’ office says it "follows the facts of every single case, and the fact here is that Steve McLaughlin was indicted for breaking the law and violating the public’s trust.”

You can listen to McLaughlin's complete State of the County address by clicking the file below:

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin's State of the County address.mp3

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.