Amedore wins this time

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-spencer

Victory kiss: George Amedore embraces his wife, Joelle, after giving his acceptance speech on Tuesday night.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

“We all share in this victory,” says George Amedore, left, announcing his win over Democratic State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to a cheering crowd of Republicans on Tuesday night. Two years ago, he thought he’d eked out a win in the same race but, after Amedore was sworn in, a series of court challenges awarded the win to Tkaczyk, by 18 votes. Smiling by his side is Hugh Farley, longtime state senator from Schenectady. This time, Amedore took 54 percent of the vote.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Clap and click: Supporters of George Amedore, who had gathered in a banquet hall at the River Stone Manor in Glenville, leapt to their feet to applaud and take pictures as Amedore gave his victory speech on Tuesday night.

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

Standing proud for their candidate: From left, Alexia Holden, 17, Jonah Goldstein, 14; and Emily Abdoo, 24, all volunteered their time and efforts for Cecilia Tkaczyk. “I really believe in Cecilia,” said Abdoo. “She’s very down-to-earth. She’s a farmer. She really cares.”

The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer

“How are the sheep?” Alexander Gordon, right, a Knox farmer and former county legislator asked Eric Tkaczyk, the senator’s husband, at a gathering for Cecilia Tkaczyk as they waited to hear results on Election Night. The Tkaczyks raise sheep at their Duanesburg farm. “How are the cows?” responded Eric Tkaczyk.

“This is your victory,” George Amedore told the crowd of several hundred Republicans who cheered his defeat of Democratic Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk to represent the 46th District.

“Your voice was heard loud and clear,” he continued from the podium. “A few more than 18 people…” Amedore said as he was drowned out with laughter, applause, and the ringing of a cowbell.

His jocular reference was to the drawn-out legal battle two years ago, when Tkaczyk, after a series of court challenges, beat him by 18 votes.

Amedore had left his seat in the State Assembly, which he had held since 2007, to run in 2012 to represent the newly drawn 46th District constructed by the Republican-dominated Senate. It stretches 140 miles, encompassing parts of five counties — Albany, Greene, Montgomery, Schenectady, and Ulster.

This time, Amedore’s victory, by unofficial count, is unquestionable: He won 11,827 or 54 percent of the votes to Tkaczyk’s 10,077 or 46 percent. In addition to the Republican line, he had the Conservative, Stop Common Core, and Independence Party lines as well. Tkaczyk had the Green and Working Families Party lines.

Amedore’s victory along with several other key State Senate races going to Republicans gives the GOP the majority while Democrats still hold the majority in the State Assembly. Democrats also swept the statewide posts, returning the incumbent governor, comptroller, and attorney general to office.

Ed Cox, chairman of the state Republican committee, issued a statement at midnight, saying, “In the ten most Democratic states in America, in only one out of the twenty legislative houses will Republicans have a majority next year: our New York State Senate.”

Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer from Duanesburg, and Amedore, owner of a home-construction business from Rotterdam, had large sums spent on their campaigns and clashed markedly on issues as diverse as the Women’s Equality Agenda (Tkaczyk backed it all and Amedore objected to the controversial 10th point, codifying Roe v. Wade into state law), and the Common Core Initiative (Tkaczyk supported the standards although she was critical of the way they were implemented while Amedore favored repeal).

Tuesday’s crowd was in an upbeat mood in a large banquet hall at the River Stone Manor in Glenville as news of Republican victories across the nation rolled in.

“This is a great year for the Republican party,” Assemblyman James Tedisco said from the podium at 11 p.m. “We’re about to take over both houses…Our party is the party of diversity and of tolerance.”

Still, the crowd waited for Amedore to announce his victory.

Hugh Farley, the longtime State Senator representing Schenectady, said, “We are holding off. George Amedore’s race is very contentious…We want to be sure.”

Carol Defelice, Amedore’s cousin, sat at the table closest to the podium. It had a blue tablecloth with a sparkling red, white, and blue centerpiece of branches, ribbons, and stars.

Defelice had arrived, dressed up in dangling earrings, at 8 o’clock and would not leave until she heard her cousin’s speech. “His grandmother and my father are brother and sister. They grew up in Bellevue,” she said. “He’s definitely a family man,” she said of Amedore. “Overall, he’s a caring person and I know, if he says he’ll do something, he’ll do it.”

As Amedore waited, he walked in front of the line of television cameras, granting interviews under bright lights.

“He’s so nervous,” said his cousin.

At 11:15, Amedore said, “Let’s get my family up there.” His wife, wearing red heels, white pearls, and a blue lace dress, stood beside him on the podium as their children — George, Anthony, and Bria — and a bevy of other family members stood behind them.

Farley announced Amedore’s victory, clasping his arm and raising it overhead as the crowd cheered.

Amedore began his speech with a list of thank-yous — to each of the five county chairs who “gave their all,” to Second Amendment rights proponents, a “voting bloc that came out strong,” and to his family — “Business still at Amedore Homes must go on,” he said of the company he owns.

“The success is success shared,” said Amedore.

After his narrow defeat two years ago, Amedore said he took time to heal. “My mind and my heart needed to come together,” he said.

After entering the race seven months ago, he said, “I’ve listened…All the residents stated very clearly the same frustrations I have…We all love New York. We just can’t afford New York.”

Amedore then listed things that needed fixing, such as high property taxes, energy costs, lack of jobs, and an educational system that is “leaving children behind.”

He cited a poll that found upstate residents believe the state’s best days “our behind us.” Amedore was greeted with more applause when he said, “I believe our best days are just ahead of us.”

He went on, “I know what needs to be done,” and listed real property tax reform, eliminating the Gap Elimination Adjustment, and vocational education at young grades.

He concluded of government, “We need to be cutting the red tape…I understand the burden. We feel it every day…We can streamline.”

Tkaczyk camp

The mood was more subdued and the crowd smaller as supporters of Cecilia Tkaczyk gathered in a back room at Provence, a French restaurant in Guilderland’s Stuyvesant Plaza, on Tuesday night. Despite a Nov. 2 Siena poll that showed Amedore with a double-digit lead, there was a good deal of hope and confidence as about 50 people assembled at 9 p.m.

Television cameras were lined up in position to film her entrance, which didn’t come until much later. Kids in jeans mingled with farmers in work clothes and men wearing neckties.

At the start of the gathering, Tkaczyk’s husband, Eric, said of his wife’s work, “It’s been non-stop for two years…When other people go to sleep, she’s just coming home.”

He works in research for General Electric, and the Tkaczyks are raising a 15-year-old son, Peter, as well as running their farm.

Asked if he thought his wife would continue in politics if she were defeated in Tuesday’s election, Eric Tkaczyk said, “She hasn’t talked about what she’d do next; she’s pretty confident.”

He also said, “It’s coming together now, all the time and work in the past two years…She’s really enjoyed going out there, talking to people and listening.”

Meeting the public was not new for her, he said. Tkaczyk’s father, a New Jersey dairy farmer, encouraged her.

“She was a dairy princess in New Jersey at a young age, a public face,” Eric Tkaczyk said. And, as a member of the 4-H, she became good at public speaking, putting on demonstrations of agricultural products.

Cecilia Tkaczyk went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from Rutgers University. She had served on the Duanesburg School Board as its president and, before becoming senator, had been the director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State for a decade.

In the State Senate, Tkaczyk is a ranking member on the mental health and elections committees and serves as a member on others, including agriculture, education, homeland security, military affairs, and environmental conservation. She has focused on public education and job growth.

Many young Tkaczyk supporters wore T-shirts or stickers with her name. Emily Abdoo, at 24, said she got involved in this, her first political campaign “because I really believe in Cecilia…She’s very down-to-earth. She’s a farmer. She really cares.”

Ten years younger than Abdoo, Jonah Goldstein was also a campaign volunteer. “I’m really interested in politics,” he said. “I shadowed the senator when I was in eighth grade.” He’s in ninth grade now and decided he wanted to help someone he admired. “She has the right ideas for the state,” he said.

Alexia Holden, 17, also shadowed Tkaczyk — three times, as part of a Girl Scout program. “I loved it,” said the Guilderland teen.

Alexander Gordon, formerly a Democratic Knox Town Board member and county legislator, came to the gathering in support of Tkaczyk because, he said, “She was a bright spot.”

George Acker, the Independence Party chairman for Greene County, was there with Irene Beede, also with the Greene County Independence Party. “We endorsed her before the state committee acted,” Acker said. And, even though the state committee then endorsed Amedore, “We stuck with her,” Acker said.

“She would always come to meetings and let us know what was going on,” said Beede. And, Beede said, Tkaczyk became involved in local projects, like trying to make the hiking trail safer at Katterskill Falls. “We bump into her all over the place,” said Beede, noting that Tkaczyk is active in her large district. “She’s gone to school board meetings in every one of her towns.”

As they spoke, at about 10:15 p.m., the large-screen television in front of the room rolled a band of type, stating that Amedore had a lead.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” said Beede. “We’ve never left her side.

In the end, Tkaczyk conceded.

Newly re-elected Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy made her fifth stop of the night at Provence and said she was sorry Tkaczyk had lost. Fahy and Tkaczyk had made visits to local schools together. “We both really had a grasp of educational issues,” said Fahy. “We knew something was wrong.” The state has made some progress with improving educational funding, she said, but more needs to be done.

Asked why she thought Tkaczyk had been defeated, Fahy said, “The voters were in a negative anti-incumbent mood. There are lots of upsets nationwide.”

More Regional News

  • The Guilderland schools superintendent, Marie Wiles, emailed a letter to the school community Friday when the first case of COVID-19 at Altamont Elementary School was announced and then again Saturday after the second case, in a different household, had been announced on Friday evening.

  • A lawsuit filed by a former Albany County employee who alleges that County Executive Daniel McCoy punished her for backing the political candidates he favored has been settled for four out of five of the defendants, including Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy.

  • A number of new voting reforms signed into law in August will make it easier for New Yorkers to cast ballots come November. 

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