GOP choice: Amedure runs for 46th Senate District

Richard Amedure

Richard Amedure of Rensselaerville announced his candidacy Friday for the 46th State Senate District.

“I’m very disciplined and very determined,” said Amedure, a long-time member of the Rensselaerville Planning Board.

“On the planning board, we always try to preserve the rural character while still allowing properly managed growth,” he said.

Amedure retired three weeks ago, he said, from his career as a State Trooper.

“One-party rule for one part of the state is unsustainable,” Amedure told The Enterprise of his reason for running. “I want to lead the effort to get upstate voices heard in government.”

Amedure is enrolled in the Independence Party and said he is seeking the Conservative and Republican lines as well.

He is endorsed by Republican Senator George Amedore who announced late last year that he will not seek re-election.

“He’s got the right pedigree, in public service,” said Senator Amedore, when asked why he was backing Amedure. “He’s a veteran who served in the military and he’s been a public servant with law enforcement. He knows the district very well.”

The 46th District stretches 140 miles, encompassing all of Greene and Montgomery counties and parts of Albany, Schenectady, and Ulster counties. (The district includes all or part of these Albany County towns: Guilderland, New Scotland, Coeymans, and the Hilltowns of Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Westerlo.)

“There was a variety of candidates from every county that showed interest in potentially being a candidate,” Amedore told The Enterprise on Friday. “They went through an interview process with all five Republican chair people. I met with them personally, one on one, or had a lengthy conversation with virtually every candidate.”

Out of a field of seven or eight candidates, all five county Republican chairs agreed on Amedure, the senator said.

Michelle Hinchey, of Saugerties, will likely be Amedure’s Democratic opponent. Democrat Gary Greenberg of Greene County, a child-victim advocate, is also vying for the spot. But Hinchey has secured backing from all five of the county Democratic committees in the 46th District.

Amedure joined the United States Army in 1986 and served in Germany with the 1st Infantry Division, he said, and then, in the mid-1990s, he joined the Army Reserves, serving as a combat-engineer drill sergeant.

He became a State Trooper in 1989, working largely in Greene County and sometimes in Ulster County. He lives in Albany County.

Amedure said he was involved in the Police Benevolent Association, helping Troopers statewide.

He lives on 70 acres in rural Rensselaerville. “I wouldn’t call it a farm,” he said. “My daughter has two horses. We have hay and get firewood.”

Asked about his goals if elected, Amedure said, “Our state government has lost focus on what’s important. They’ve pushed dangerous bail reform, making residents in upstate New York unsafe.”

While some modifications to the bail system may have been needed, he said, “They went too far.”

Beyond that, Amedure is concerned about what he sees as the lack of prosperity upstate. “I have two children, ages 26 and 24,” he said. “There are fewer opportunities for them to stay here.”

Senator Amedore told The Enterprise on Friday that the issue he most hopes Amedure will take the reins on is property-tax relief.

“I started this crusade in 2007 when Governor Spitzer was there,” said Amedore, who was a state assemblyman at the time. “The speaker of the house, Sheldon Silver, was adamantly opposed. Everyone, even the media, said a property tax cap will never see the light of day … Then Andrew Cuomo jumped on it. … 

“But have we seen property taxes go down? No, not as much as I’d like to see them go down. I’d like to see Rich Amedure continue to make progress … I was slowly chipping away at it over time. Rich needs to take the bull by the horns. It’s why so many people leave upstate New York. It’s too expensive to live, work, and retire in New York.”

“I fully agree with him,” said Amedure when told of the senator’s stance on lowering property taxes. He went on, “Look how many people are leaving. There are high expenses for living and taxes in upstate New York.”

Amedure has kept meetings flowing as chairman of the planning board in Rensselaerville when thorny issues split the town’s residents.

In 2015, when residents were divided over the county sheriff’s proposal for a 180-foot tower placed where it would mar Catskill vistas, Amedure told the crowd at the start of a hearing on the proposal, “We are going to keep some semblance of decorum.” In the event of disruption, he said deputies would “help you leave.” There were no disruptions.

Amedure was also among a group of petitioners who lived within a mile of the New York State Park Police Academy firing range that filed an Article 78 proceeding — allowing citizens to challenge government — objecting to the intrusive gunfire noise.

Amedure also spoke out about clear-cutting in state forests in Rensselaerville that were leaving the forests “an absolute disaster.”

Amedure’s son, Richard Amedure III, told The Enterprise of his father’s candidacy, “It’s a really good thing for the area … He’s motivated. He’s one of the few people who can get things done. 

“He can be political or he can be a hammer when he needs to be.”


Battleground district

The 46th District, drawn by the Republican-dominated Senate in 2012, has become more Democratic since its inception: Thirty-five percent of voters are enrolled as Democrats, 28 percent as Republicans, 27 percent are unaffiliated, and the rest are enrolled in small parties.

The 46th District was blue in 2012, supporting Barack Obama as Amedore narrowly lost, and was red in 2016, supporting Donald Trump, as Amedore won handily.

Amedore’s 2012 campaign raised close to a million dollars as his Republican opponent Cecilia Tkaczyk’s campaign raised less than a quarter of a million. After a series of court challenges, during which Amedore took the oath of office, Tkaczyk was declared the winner, by just 18 votes.

But the expected Democratic majority in the Senate didn’t materialize. Four Democratic senators broke away from the leadership, forming the Independent Democratic Caucus.

In 2014, in a rematch, Amedore won over Tkaczyk with 54 percent of the vote. His victory, along with several other key State Senate races going to the Republicans, gave the GOP the majority in the Senate. Amedore raised over $1.5 million to Tkaczyk’s $1.3 million.

The 46th District was critical again in 2016 as Democrats had hoped, but failed, to win the majority of seats. Amedore beat his Democratic challenger, Sara Niccoli, a sheep farmer from Montgomery County and supervisor of Palatine, with 63 percent of the vote. Amedore’s campaign raised $1.2 million to Niccoli’s $278,000.

In 2018, Amedore beat his Democratic opponent, Pat Courtney Strong, a progressive and a newcomer to politics, with 55 percent of the vote as a blue wave gave Democrats solid control of the State Senate.

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