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Didi Barrett opens run for state Senate seat

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MILLBROOK–Fed up with the state of New York’s “dysfunction, corruption, and partisanship,” Didi Barrett, a Millbrook resident who describes herself as a citizen, not a politician, has announced her candidacy for state Senate representing the 41st District.

The district covers all of Columbia County and much of Dutchess County. It is currently represented by Republican Steve Saland, who has not yet officially announced his bid for reelection but is expected to do so soon. Ms. Barrett has the support of Democratic Party leaders in both counties and no one in the GOP has expressed an interest in challenging Mr. Saland in a primary, a situation that suggests these are the candidates likely to appear on the November ballot.

“Things have gotten so bad, we need to look at the whole thing and restructure the whole system,” said Ms. Barrett in a recent phone conversation. She said that during the 30 years Senator Saland has represented the district, taxes have increased and the state government has become increasingly more dysfunctional.

Passionate about education, she points out that students are not enjoying the educational advantages that their older siblings had just a few years ago.

In a speech delivered in front of the Hudson Court House April 7, she spoke about problems faced by New York residents ranging from unemployment and high property taxes tied to school budgets, to “billions in deficits and debt,” racked up by “legislators playing by their own rules, while mortgaging our children’s future.”

If elected, Ms. Barrett, 59, will bring to the job over 20 year experience as a leader and board member in the non-profit sector, as a former candidate for office in her town of Washington, as a wife, mother and, earlier in her career, as an editor and journalist whose articles ran in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Us magazine.

She sees economic opportunity for the district in renewable energy, cultural tourism and agriculture, but believes our present tax structure needs to be changed to be more supportive of families, seniors and small businesses, and she wants to promote a jobs program with enforced incentives keep jobs in our communities.

Ms. Barrett founded, organized, and helped launch a number of local non-profits, including the Millbrook Education Foundation, the Dutchess Girls Collaborative, the North East Dutchess Fund for the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Girls Inc. in New York City, and has worked with the New York Woman’s Foundation and Dutchess County Democratic Committee. She served on the financial committees for the campaigns of Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Ms. Barrett and her husband, David, an attorney with the New York City firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner, are the parents of two college age children who are pursuing their educations in the Boston area.

The candidate began a “listening tour” before she decided to run for office. She plans to continue the tour, meeting with voters at the private homes throughout the district.

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