The daughter of the late Hudson Valley Congressman Maurice Hinchey is running for the 46th state Senate District seat held by the retiring Republican George Amedore. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas recently spoke with Michelle Hinchey, a Democrat, about her candidacy.
"I was able to see firsthand, from both my parents, but especially my father, how hard work, dedication and compassion can really make an impact in people's lives and in your community. And I grew up seeing that, day in and day out."
Hinchey, who turns 33 on Election Day, says it seemed inevitable that she'd end up running for office.
"You know, I've been asked when I was going to run since I was 7. But at the end of the day, when you grow up in this, and you see all the positives, you also see all the negatives. And you see how much time it takes and you see the toll it takes on your family's on yourself. You recognize that, you know, your first priority has to be the people that elected you.”
Maurice Hinchey died in 2017 after 10 terms in Congress.
Hinchey says her decision to enter politics stems from a belief that government is meant to help people.
" I graduated in the middle of a recession in 2009, from college, at a time that was hard to find a job in upstate, you know, normally, but especially then really anywhere, challenging to find work. And I was set off on a 10-year career path, in communications, working for technology companies, and media companies. But it became apparent to me, because at the end of every day, I genuinely felt like there was a lot more to do, and to give back and to be involved. And it became pretty apparent that this is the work that I want to be doing that I need to be doing and that I should be doing."
Hinchey points out that the newest Senate district, the 46th, includes all of Montgomery and Greene counties and parts of Albany, Schenectady and Ulster counties. With Democrats likely to retain control of the Senate, she says she is eager to become a strong voice in the majority conference in Albany.
" We've got to make sure that we're advocating for our communities, and that we're not falling behind, you know, simple things like infrastructure and broadband investment in development to job development. And, you know, I think some of the challenges in this race, one is just that we have been left behind for a long time, you know, the issues that we're facing here really shouldn't be partisan. “
Hinchey favors progressive legislation.
"Upstate New York should be leading in green job development, right, that covers white collar jobs and blue collar jobs. It helps us hit the goals that we've already laid out in the climate leadership and Community Protection Act, which is the most aggressive climate legislation. And we can make sure that people can figure and we could lead the way and that we could lead the way in industrialized hemp. If we legalize cannabis. Right, not just from, you know, a monetary perspective into the budget, but also to help our agricultural communities and with industrialized hands, if we can get rid of plastics. You know, that's huge. Think of the impact that that could have not just in our economy, here in upstate, but across the country. You know, there's a lot of opportunities that we have here to make life better."
Hinchey champions expanded health care. She says when her dad fell ill, the health coverage he received as a Congressman fell short, forcing the family to sell land to pay his medical expenses. She also favors taxing the rich, and wants to remind voters that she has "party power" working in her favor.
"If elected, as a Democrat, I will be in the room with the majority, I will be at the table, not just fighting for, you know, money to come back to our communities to fix our storm drainage and grants to go to our firehouses. But also to be a voice for how we approach legislation, and how we approach priorities and make sure that our communities that have been left behind for so long, are not anymore. And the only way that we're going to be able to do that and have a voice at that level is to be in the majority conference."
Republican Senator George Amedore, who has held the seat since 2014, decided not to seek another term. Three other candidates are vying for the seat: the Green Party's Robert Alft, Democrat Gary Greenberg, who is running as a write-in, and Republican Rich Amedure, a distant relative of Amedore’s who recently retired after 30 years as a New York State Trooper.