To the Editor:
I started paying close attention to the holders of our State Senate Seat in the late 1970’s when I first became active in local politics. I’ve always felt that our State Senator, then Doug Barclay, played an important role in state government. I knew and was friendly with both John McHugh and James Wright, despite the fact that both knew I was active in the Democratic Party and had not voted for them. No longer active in politics, I know the current Senator, Darrell Aubertine, in the same way I knew Doug Barclay: through their words and their actions in public life. I do not know him personally, although I once shook his hand.
All four of these Senators were thoughtful representatives who have demonstrated a concern for making certain that state government serves the people. All four, three Republicans and a Democrat, hold positions with which I disagree. But all four have come to these positions as a result of thoughtful consideration acting on reasoned principles.
Listening to the recent debate between Darrell Aubertine and Patty Ritchie, I was saddened to think that the tradition of having a thoughtful public servant represent us in the State Senate could be ended if people vote their party and not the best interests of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Ms. Ritchie demonstrated a shallow knowledge of state government, and repeatedly resorted to slogans and finger-pointing. The most glaring example came when, after constantly saying that “unfunded mandates on local governments” which have increased during the last 30 years are the cause of most of the state’s ills Ms. Ritchie promised to make the elimination of such mandates her number one priority.
When asked to name one such mandate which she would not eliminate which she could say was a good action by the state government, she at first said she couldn’t “think of any.” She then named a recent decision by the DEC which restricts commercial enterprises, not local governments, and which would effectively eliminate all commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. Ignoring her bizarre answer, one must assume that Ms. Ritchie believes all mandates on local government are bad. She could not name one she would keep.
Does this mean that we should eliminate the mandate requiring local governments to never again house children with autism, chained and naked, in barbaric “asylums” the way we did until the 1970’s. Would she eliminate the mandate requiring local governments to protect children from physical and mental abuse at the hands of their relatives? Would she eliminate the mandate that local police agencies keep track of sex offenders and child predators? What about the requirement that local government offices, including those that collect taxes, must be accessible to people with disabilities and the elderly? Or the need for public schools to provide services to the learning disabled, speech therapists for those who need it, and nurses to provide first aid and keep track of immunizations?
Would she eliminate all of these things if she was elected? Who knows? But the fact that she could not find just ONE good thing that state government has required of local governments shows that she has not given any thought to the role she will play as State Senator. If you are only concerned with electing someone who will help your party gain the majority in the State Senate, then by all means vote for Patty Ritchie. If you want a State Senator who thinks before he speaks, examines the issues and problems which concern us as upstate New Yorkers and doesn’t just memorize clever phrases about those problems, and bases his votes not on which party he belongs to but on what he believes, based on the facts before him and the principles he holds, then you will join me when I vote for Darrell Aubertine for State Senator.
Jack Tyrie, Jr.