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On jobs, education, past is prologue for Senate candidate

NY Senate candidate Madelyn Thorne (r), with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, focuses on kitchen table issues.
NY Senate candidate Madelyn Thorne (r), with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillebrand, focuses on kitchen table issues.
Thorne for NY Senate

Madelyn Thorne exudes energy and impatience—in the best sense of the word. In running a second time for the 49th State Senate seat in the Capital Region, Ms. Thorne factors her advantages, including a closer-than-expected finish in her 2012 race, and brushes aside obstacles.

The district includes parts of Schenectady as well as Niskayuna, Clifton Park, parts of Saratoga and towns north, and stretches west to Gloversville and the Little Falls area.

The Democratic challenger is eager to tackle the myriad issues facing families in the district, from education to job training, growing the minimum wage, creating sustainable jobs, and addressing crushing student debt.

Educating for a diverse workplace
One issue on Ms. Thorne’s radar is the Common Core, applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state teaching standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. “The results have been so overwhelming and troubling to teachers, parents, and students. We need to take a hard look at this curriculum program.”

The candidate also wants to address job training for service sector jobs. “The job opportunities are here; we need to develop skilled, trained workers for good-paying, crucial service service sector jobs, such as EMT and construction work.”

Growth in technology jobs, fostered by SUNY’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Global Foundries in Malta, and at GE’s solar technology site, signal optimism for a diverse workforce in the region, says the candidate. Both sectors in the Capital Region were highlighted by President Obama in his two visits to the region over the past few years.

On the minimum wage, Ms. Thorne says the current $8.00 per hour, which is rising to $9.00, is too little and taking too long (three years) to phase in. And it is accompanied by tax cuts to corporations.

She praised the work of the Schenectady County Metroplex in expanding the county’s property tax base, increasing the sales tax base, and creating and retaining jobs.

Addressing staggering college debt
The candidate, relatedly, addressed an issue crushing the dreams and hopes of the younger generation: college debt. “It’s back breaking. Tuitions have skyrocketed, and colleges, too, have faced enormous challenges containing costs. The result is students shackled to huge debt that will prevent them from buying a car or a home. Students are too young to understand the implications of taking on debt and this must change. Past generations were raised on the idea that ‘you had to go to a four-year college.’” Ms. Thorne wants to look at reasonable alternatives, responsible planning, because "the present situation is not sustainable. College may not be the only answer.”

“We must protect our young consumers because they will help us rebuild the middle class.”

Richest of the rich, poorest of the poor
Other ways to strengthen the middle class, said the candidate, include supporting unions. “A Democratic majority in the Senate will dig in and look hard to protect the middle class. Right now we have a government answering to the 1%. We need to know, as voters, as citizens, that we effect the change we want. We need to vote the right people in who will listen, work, and respond. There are just too many challenges to stay with the status quo.”

Currently, the New York State Senate has a slight Republican majority, aided by Democrats who caucus with the Republicans. Ms. Thorne is highly optimistic for her own chances and for the Democrats to regain control. “We must want to do things, and then take the right actions. Our families want their voices heard and a Senate that responds to them.”

Dave Balog teaches financial basics for families. 355-0967. dbalog99@gmail.com

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