Angelo Santabarbara

Angelo Santabarbara

Seeking his third term in the Assembly, Democrat Angelo Santabarbara names some of the accomplishments he’s proudest of: fighting for funds for public schools; improving infrastructure; and working across the aisle with Republican Peter Lopez, who represents the other half of the Hilltowns, on a bill to help people with autism.

“I’m one of the only civil engineers in the Assembly,” said Santabarbara, noting that he gave up his job to be a full-time representative for his district.

With 15 years of working as an engineer, he said, he understands the importance of infrastructure, not just roads and bridges — he points to the new bridge in Berne at the intersection of routes 443 and 156 as an accomplishment — but also “the things you don’t see,” like underground water and sewer systems.

“We’re looking to create emergency funding for infrastructure,” he said. “Now it takes months or years.” (Read his opponent Peter Vroman's election profile.)

A Schenectady County native, Santabarbara, 44, lives in Rotterdam with his wife and two children.

On school funding, Santabarbara said that, each year he’s been in office, aid to schools has increased and it felt good this year to do away with the gap elimination adjustment. “I’ve sponsored bills for fair funding,” he said.

He’s lunched with kids at Berne-Knox-Westerlo and created a student cabinet. “I like to get into the nitty-gritty,” he said.

Santabarbara is working on changes to the structure of the school-aid funding formula, he said, noting that rural schools are often underfunded. “They tend to be land rich but cash poor,” he said. “We’re trying to make property value part of the formula,” he said, and to take into account the number of students who get free lunches, an indication of poverty. “We want to look over a period of time rather than year to year.”

Santabarbara said, when he took office, “Common Core was already rolled out and evaluation, too.” Last year, he said, he voted against a bill that could have continued the Common Core standards and would have still linked teacher evaluation to test scores. “I voted no; it was my chance to speak out,” he said.

Santabarbara said his daughter, a public school student, is a swimmer and in her school’s marching band. His son, who is autistic, attends Wildwood.

“I believe learning happens inside and outside the classroom,” he said. “Kids like my daughter are discovering their talents. A lot of what my son learns comes from the community. I do not support teaching to the test.”

Santabarbara is enthused about bills he has sponsored that would create a central location for services for people with autism and would provide an “autism action plan to find best practices and make them available as a model,” he said, ranging from housing to working options.

On the environment, Santabarbara said, “We invested record money in the NY-Sun program, making solar energy a reality. We’re slashing costs for government buildings and school districts.”

Santabarbara voted for the SAFE Act. He says he supports background checks and protection for first responders. And he said he is “open to amendments to the SAFE Act.”

He also said, “I am a gun owner. We must respect the right of gun owners.”

Santabarbara served in the United States Army Reserve for eight years.

On the heroin epidemic, Santabarbara noted “several approaches” lawmakers have pursued: investing in education programs, initiating collection drives to properly dispose of unused prescription drugs, and providing support services for addicts and recovering addicts.

On the LLC loophole, Santabarbara said he has sponsored a bill to close it. He has also sponsored other bills related to ethics reform, he said. “We did pass a bill to stop pensions for corrupt politicians,” he said. “We need harsher penalties….We need to have zero tolerance for corrupt politicians. I’ve been fighting for all these things.”

Santabarbara said he has sponsored a bill to limit outside income. He stopped his own work as an engineer, he said, giving this reason, “I work for the people I represent full-time.”

Santabarbara also opposes a pay raise. “You don’t join the Army for pay and you don’t do this for pay. This job is about service, not pay.”

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