Collins challenging Amedore in District 46


Jeff Collins stands with his wife, Lisa, and daughter, Lily.

This week, Jeff Collins is starting his race to represent the 46th District in the New York State Senate.

The Democrat from Woodstock is challenging Republican incumbent George Amedore. No one else has announced yet, Collins noted. “Pat Strong started late,” he said of the Democrat from Kingston who was defeated by Amedore in 2018.

“It’s a big district. By starting early, I want to get to know people and build support,” Collins told The Enterprise on Friday evening before going to a series of kick-off events.

Amedore, a builder from Rotterdam, had served for six years in the State Assembly until 2012 when he ran to represent the newly-drawn 46th District, constructed by the then-Republican-dominated Senate.

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

Amedore lost that 2012 race by the slimmest of margins to Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer from Duanesburg who now runs a yarn shop in Guilderland. He beat Tkaczyk in a rematch in 2014 and has held the seat since.

Collins said he plans to open an office soon on Western Avenue in Guilderland.

Collins, 58, grew up in upstate New York, in Lansing, and earned a degree in computer science from Cornell University. After that, he worked in California, Massachusetts, and Georgia.

“Nothing really felt like home,” he said. So he and his wife, Lisa, moved to Woodstock in 1999.

Collins said he sold his Atlanta company in 1996. “We used the money we made to start a not-for-profit school, the Hudson Valley Sudbury School.”

The school, Collins said, is what inspired him to run. “It’s based on participatory democracy. All the students are part of the school’s governance,” he said. “They decide on the rules, the policies, the procedures.”

Collins went on, “We feel democracy is the core of our country … The school holds kids responsible for their actions and for what their educational goals are.

“I’m running because of what I learned at the school … When people know their voice matters, they start participating. What I’ve seen at the state and national level, particularly with young people, they feel their voice doesn’t matter. I want to really engage my constituents on what’s important to them.”

Asked about his own goals, if elected, Collins said, “I believe health is a human right. We need to put people over profits.” Collins said he supports the New York Health Act.

Informed by his own family’s experience, Collins said he also wants to create a system of home health care for the state. His father died three years ago of Alzheimer’s disease, Collins said.

“My mother vowed never to put him in a facility,” he said. She kept her vow, but it was hard, Collins said.

“It got harder and harder,” he said. “She needed help but there was no place to get help in upstate New York.”

The problems, he said, are three-fold. First, trained in-home help is hard to find. Second, he said, “You have to pay out of pocket.”

Third, he concluded, “There’s not a path for career growth for home health-care workers.”

Families with ill members need support both physically and emotionally and the workers need to be supported economically.

“People pay someone more than that to watch their cats,” he concluded. “It’s just backwards.”

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