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Hinchey sworn in to second term in state Senate

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-41, is sworn into office by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

SAUGERTIES — State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-41, was sworn into her second term in office with Democratic leaders and 500 supporters in attendance Saturday afternoon.

Hinchey took the oath of office, issued by State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado by her side.

Also joining Hinchey on the stage were Aidan O’Connor of Durham, a Greene County EMS Leader and member of the state’s Rural Ambulance Task Force, and Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, the city’s youngest and first Black mayor in history. Local supporter Kenya Gadsden was emcee at the event.

In the audience were dozens of local and state officials, including newly elected Republican U.S. Rep. Marcus Molinaro, R-19.

The swearing-in ceremony, held at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory, was opened by the Ulster County Sheriff’s Color Guard and the Saugerties High School choir singing the national anthem.

Hinchey was elected to her second two-year term in the state Senate after defeating Republican Sue Serino. Both were incumbents — with the redrawing of state Senate district lines earlier this year, Hinchey, who formerly represented the 46th district, was elected to the newly formed 41st district, which is comprised of four counties and 56 towns, including all of Greene County.

At the start of her second term in the state Senate, Hinchey was re-appointed chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and will also be a member of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Environmental Conservation, Energy and Telecommunications, Finance, Local Government, and Transportation committees.

Schumer, the senior senator from New York and the Democratic Majority Leader in Washington D.C., said Hinchey can serve as a role model to young people aspiring to public service. Schumer knew her father, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, who served in Congress for 20 years. Dubbed “Mighty Mo” for his work in government, and prominent in early efforts to clean up the environment, Maurice Hinchey taught his daughter what public service is all about, Schumer said.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses a crowd of roughly 500 at the swearing-in ceremony for re-elected state Sen. Michelle Hinchey.

“Michelle does such a great job in this district. Public service is in her veins,” Schumer said. “She comes from a family steeped in public service. It’s in her DNA.”

The Senate Majority Leader dubbed Hinchey “Mighty Michelle” for forging her own path in state government.

“She secured the most state funding for the agricultural industry two years in a row, helping our farmers, particularly our small farmers,” Schumer said. “She passed 50 bills that were signed into law last year alone and she has established a national reputation for tying agriculture with helping our farmers, particularly our smaller farmers, to do things in a green and healthy and pro-environment way, where they can prosper and our environment, our globe, can prosper.”

Hinchey was awarded the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for her work on clean water, and formed the state’s first Rural Ambulance Task Force to protect and preserve rural emergency medical service agencies, he added.

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, center, confers with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer during her swearing-in ceremony, as State Senate Majority Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins looks on. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Aidan O’Connor, of Durham, is senior leader for Air Methods and a paramedic with Greene County EMS, as well as a member of the task force Hinchey spearheaded. O’Connor spoke of Hinchey’s support of first responders.

“Michelle delivered $1.5 million for local fire departments. She was able to secure funding to open a new helipad in Greene County for emergency medevacs. She created the first New York state rural EMS task force to evaluate and find solutions to the EMS crisis we are facing today,” O’Connor said.

The state senator also worked to bring improved emergency communications infrastructure to communities around the district and advocated for state legislation that allows air medical services to deliver and administer blood as they transport the most severely injured and ill patients to hospitals, O’Connor noted.

“Michelle carried this legislation in 2022 and it has helped more than 100 patients so far and will help thousands in the future,” O’Connor said. “What an amazing list of legislation and funding that helps support our first responders.”

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, who formerly represented the 19th Congressional District, including all of Greene County, said Hinchey first ran for office during a “once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” at a time when the nation was experiencing a severe political divide in a climate of fear.

During this difficult time, a time of isolation and separation, Hinchey stepped up to bring people together, Delgado said.

“We needed somebody who would be willing — with the courage, the ability, the know-how, the fortitude — to step up and bring people together, and work and fight and remind them what service looks like, and she did that,” Delgado said.

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, also the former congressman representing the 19th Congressional District, at the swearing-in ceremony for state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-41. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

“In Sen. Hinchey we have not a politician, we have a genuine public servant who understands the value of this work, who understands its import,” he said.

Hinchey was sworn in by state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who said working with Hinchey is like working “with family.” The re-elected state senator also gives voice to a community that for too long didn’t have one in the state senate, Stewart-Cousins said.

Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado, also the former congressman representing the 19th Congressional District, at the swearing-in ceremony for state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-41.“For too long in the Senate they said, especially among the Democrats, that they only care about New York City,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We didn’t have any voices here — it’s hard to care and understand and know if you don’t have anybody representing you. That’s not the case anymore — you’ve got a powerhouse representing the 41stDistrict.”

Hinchey took her oath of office with her brother Joe holding the Bible at her side.

“It’s so important to have government that we can believe in, government that we can trust, government that we know is going to be doing the work every day not for the show, not for the cameras, not for a sound clip, but for the people that live in our communities that don’t have that kind of time to waste because every moment fighting for our neighbors and for our areas is critically important,” Hinchey said. “And especially in our upstate and rural communities, our suburban areas, that feel they haven’t had a voice at the table for so long.”

Federal, state and local officials at the swearing-in ceremony for state Sen. Michelle Hinchey, third from right. Melanie Lekocevic/Capital Region Independent Media

Having that voice enabled Hinchey to get 55 bills passed, most of them unanimously or with bipartisan support, she said.

“They are issues that have been left on the table that we deserve, solutions that we deserve so the next generation can start a life here and move here, so that seniors living in our communities can stay here and afford to life here,” she said. “It’s why our state government is so important.”

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