Rich Amedure, a recently retired New York State Trooper, is among those in the race for the 46th Senate District seat currently held by his distant relative, retiring Republican George Amedore. WAMC's Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas spoke with the Republican about his candidacy.
Last November, George Amedore announced he wouldn't seek a 4th term, opening a window in the state's newest Senate district, which includes parts of Albany, Schenectady and Ulster Counties, and all of Montgomery and Greene Counties.
Democrat Michelle Hinchey had announced her candidacy in September 2019. By February, 55-year old Rich Amedure of the Albany County town of Rensselaerville tossed his hat in the ring.
"I have been a trooper, I just retired from the state police for the last 31 years. Things are going the wrong way. We have one party rule from one part of the state, and the policies that have passed have a negative impact on our way of life, it's led to higher taxes, little or no opportunity for our children, I have two children. My son is 26, my daughter's 24. And I want them to stay here, and there's less opportunities for them to do that. And it's also led, this one party rule has led, to less community safety. Our communities are not safe under the new bail, discovery reform laws, we need to make some modifications so the police can do their job."
Amedure says in these uncertain times he sees COVID-19 as the district's biggest issue and its biggest challenge.
"So we need to get beyond this before we can really get into everything else. But it's led to too many other issues. Obviously, this short shortfall in our tax revenue right now. So our schools are suffering, our healthcare is suffering. You know, they cut $2.2 billion from our hospitals, nursing homes and long term care facilities. And it's very difficult to do that in the middle of a pandemic. So we have to reinvest in our communities, create jobs for the future. And then we can, you know, keep the next generation here, because people are leaving. They're voting with their feet right now. They're leaving the state in droves."
Amedure says coronavirus and bail reform underline the importance of public safety across the 46th, which has seen its share of civil unrest.
"These protests, protests have escalated into full blown riots. And the police have had their hands tied because they can't arrest anybody. Once they do arrest people, they are not, the district attorneys are not prosecuting in some areas, and that that's a huge problem. We need to establish law and order and then you can build from there. But it's it seems to be tamping down. Let's hope. If they want to discuss reforming the police, there is this discussions we could have. Police could always use more training, they could use more community involvement.”
Amedure adds he thinks police have become de facto mental health providers, something he'd like to see changed. He also claims government is getting too big and intrusive.
Like Hinchey, Amedure has been actively campaigning door-to-door. He concedes name-recognition factors prominently in this election, but he believes "Hinchey" and "Amedure" balance each other out. Michelle Hinchey’s father Maurice was a 10-term Congressman.
"Hinchey was well known in the Ulster County area where he represented, down there, and his district I think went a little further west and south. But George Amedore is well known too. He's been the sitting senator for last couple of terms and there's going to be advantages of both. So it's gonna be an interesting one."
Beside Hinchey, two other candidates are vying for the seat: the Green Party's Robert Alft and Democrat Gary Greenberg, who is running as a write-in.