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Over the past month, two familiar Democratic faces have announced their intention to challenge 81 year-old, 18 term State Senator Hugh Farley (R - Niskayuna) for the 49th District, a geographically large area spanning across most of the state's eastern Mohawk Valley and interior Adirondack regions, with the bulk of its population mainly concentrated in the City of Schenectady and several large suburban communities in southern Saratoga County, including Clifton Park, Malta and Milton.

The two announced Democratic candidates facing off in an upcoming primary are Patti Southworth, a former pharmacist and long-time supervisor of the Town of Ballston, who had incredible grassroots support and success in a communuty where enrolled Republicans outnumber enrolled Democrats by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. The other Democrat, Madelyn Thorne, a director of pastoral care at a nursing home in Glenville, will be making a second attempt at toppling Farley after being defeated in 2012. Both candidates have continually reiterated their support for a more progressive legislative agenda in Albany.

From The City Desk blog, The Saratogian, February 15, 2014:

After six years as Ballston Town Supervisor, (Southworth) opted not to pursue a fourth term, instead making a brief run for Saratoga County Clerk last year (she said she was running in March and withdrew in May).

Southworth ceased that run after saying she had 150 people call and tell her she should run for state office.

"It made me sit back and think 'what is happening in state government,'" she said. "The people need someone who will use common sense, be an independent voice and stand up for what's right for the people."

She said she will focus on jobs, taxes, the environment and education, as well as "trickle down taxes" where the state pushes new mandates on to local governments without economic support.

Southworth encouraged anyone who wants to talk to her about the issues, her campaign or anything else to call her on her cell at 441-6548.

From WAMC Northeast Public Radio, January 13, 2014:
Last time around, Madelyn Thorne ran on change, and Senator Farley ran on his record. Sensing a possible shift of direction in the political wind, Thorne believes her chances at toppling the veteran politician have increased with the influx of fresh female faces, like those of Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Dorcey Applyrs of the Albany Common Council.

Thorne says "It is our responsibility and our right to assume positions of authority and positions of responsibility. Where we used to ask permission to do so, we're no longer asking permission. We are simply stepping in, stepping up."

While many consider Farley to be undefeatable, he certainly has caused some controversy in his current term in office. Last year, Farley took heat from many activists in Saratoga County after his refusal to support campaign finance reform, which would have required more explicit disclosure of campaign contributions from lobbyists and lobbying firms.
(Protesters outside of Farley's district office in Ballston Spa)

From The Saratogian, June 10, 2013:

"I believe it's time to start taking some real action against major campaign finance corruption," said Al Hornsby, a designated representative of the rally. "We need real campaign finance reform and increased transparency of campaign donations, which will result in a decline of lobbyist influence."

The New York State Assembly passed the Fair Elections Act May 6, aiming to remove the influence of special-interest money from elections and restore public confidence in the electoral process.

In addition, Farley has also recently taken heat over comments he recently made against home rule legislation on casino placement, which would allow local communities to ability to pass municipal bans or moratoriums on casino development. This issue is of significant concern to residents of the City of Saratoga Springs and surrounding communities in Saratoga County, where Saratoga Casino and Raceway is likely to submit a proposal within the next month to expand the harness track and video lottery terminal facility into a full-scale casino. A small portion of the City of Saratoga Springs lies within Farley's district.

A paragraph from a recent letter to the Albany Times Union:

"I am disappointed in the response of Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, to the legislation introduced by Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, to include local approval when considering casino site location.

When I vote for a state legislator, I want an elected representative who listens to my opinion, respects my values and considers the cultural and social climate I, and other voters in my district, want for my neighborhood, town and region."

Campaign disclosure reports from the New York State Board of Elections show that Farley has received thousands of dollars in contributions from gambling and casino interests, which include the New York Gaming Association PAC, as well as Featherstonhaugh, Willey & Clyne LLP, the Albany lobbying firm partnered by James Featherstronhaugh, who is part owner of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway facility.

If you want to help elect more progressive and transparent representatives to the New York State Senate, you can start now by volunteering or contributing to either Patti Southworth or Madelyn Thorne.

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