Two contenders in Senate District 43 redrawn with no incumbent | Sweetened

In February, Andrea Smith launched into the campaign trail as one of three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Daphne Jordan, a Halfmoon Republican, while State Assemblyman Jake Ashby, a Castleton Republican, planned to run for re-election. to his seat in the assembly.

Society Member Jake Ashby


Andrea Smith


In mid-May, a court-appointed expert from Pittsburgh rocked their own political plans when he redrawn the lines of the state’s Senate districts, creating the new forty-third Senate district, an open seat.

Now Smith and Ashby are the only two party candidates in the Senate race without any office.

“I am really happy to be running for this open seat,” Smith said, in a recent phone interview.

Ashby said he was busy by the end of the legislative session when the new Senate district maps were released, leaving little time to assess the race.

“It was very interesting,” he said in a recent phone interview. “We had to balance a lot of plates at once.”

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The new area includes Rensselaer County, where both candidates live, and parts of Washington and Albany Counties. In Washington County, the area includes the town of Kingsbury, excluding the village of Hudson Falls, south of the Rensselaer County line.

Ashby, who holds the position for two terms, said he wants to continue his bipartisan record on legislation on veterans and emergency first responders.

For example, Ashby said, he was the champion of legislation passed as part of the state budget in April to raise the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs into a cabinet-level department, where central programs are now handled in countless state departments in one agency. .

Smith, a policy analyst and advocate for state government issues for nearly 30 years, said her campaign will focus on the needs of women and families.

For example, she suggested that the state government revert to the state system that sets the rates that health insurers pay for certain services such as mental health, vision, and dentistry, where providers are in short supply.

The state previously set all rates until 1996, when Republican Governor George Pataki ended the practice and allowed health insurers to negotiate directly with hospitals and doctors.

The move was intended to increase competition in the insurance industry, which, in theory, would reduce health insurance premiums.

“So, I’m not saying universal,” Smith said, referring to her suggestion to go back to state-set rates.

Instead, it will eliminate negotiating rates for certain services, such as mental health, vision and dentistry, as it said the rates paid by insurers are too low for hospitals and health care providers to pay enough to maintain enough staff.

There is already an acute shortage of providers, Ashby said, and Smith’s proposal is worth considering.

“I think we need to do a better job of recruiting[providers]… and recruiting them to stay in New York,” he said.

Ashby said that although Smith has experience in health care policy, he has good experience, not only in politics but as an occupational therapist and college health care coach.

Ashby was a U.S. Army Reserve Captain who served two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was an MP in Rensselaer County before serving in the state assembly.

Smith said she is ready to retire from her current job as CEO of the New York State Alliance for Children’s Behavioral Health on July 1, and will be able to dedicate her full time to becoming a senator.

In 2017, Smith narrowly lost the Rensselaer County Executive Race to Republican Steve McLaughlin.

Ashby said his Senate campaign would focus on the dangers of “one-party rule” in Albany, and Smith said her campaign would emphasize the need to stamp out a “culture of corruption.”

Morey Thompson covered local government and politics for The Post Star for 21 years before retiring in 2017. He continues to pursue regional politics as a freelance writer.