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Two women vie for seat in 106th AD


GHENT—Two women are in the race for the 106th State Assembly District, which covers portions of Columbia and Dutchess counties.

In Columbia County, the district encompasses the towns of Ancram, Gallatin, Clermont, Germantown, Livingston, Taghkanic, Copake, Greenport, Claverack, Ghent and the City of Hudson.

In Dutchess County the district includes the towns of Milan, Pine Plains, North East, Amenia, Stanford, Clinton, Hyde Park, Pleasant Valley and Poughkeepsie.

The total population of the district is 132,881.

Didi Barrett, a Democrat, is the incumbent, having served since she won a special election in March 2012.

Theresa “Terry” Sullivan is Ms. Barrett’s Republican challenger. Dr. Sullivan currently serves on the Copake Town Board, a seat with a four-year-term she won in November 2014.

Assembly terms are two years.

What follows are profiles of the candidates.

Didi Barrett

Didi Barrett

Assemblymember Didi Barrett, 66, came into office in March 2012 when she won a special election after former Assemblyman Marc Molinaro was elected Dutchess County executive and the governor called for a special election to fill the open seat. She became the first woman and the first Democrat to represent the 106th District in the Assembly, she said. She was elected to a full term in November 2012. After district boundary lines were changed she moved from Millbrook to Hudson, where she has lived for three years. She was re-elected again in 2014.

Mrs. Barrett is an enrolled Democrat, who is also endorsed by the Independence and Working Families parties.

Born in New York City, Mrs. Barrett has a bachelor’s degree in communications from University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a master’s degree in folk art studies from New York University. She is the former director of the publications at the American Folk Art Museum; a journalist and consultant.

She is married to David Barrett and they have two grown children, Alec, 27, and Annabel, 24.

Mrs. Barrett serves on the Board of NorthEast Dutchess Fund of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation; is a member of AAUW; and a former board member of Millbrook Education Foundation, Sprout Creek Farm, Anderson Foundation for Autism.

Mrs. Barrett responded to a candidate questionnaire that as a longtime advocate for women and girls, she “spearheaded the creation of the Dutchess Girls Collaborative to support local girls and young women. As a former museum professional, she is an outspoken advocate for the arts; she was a consultant to the Hudson Valley resident professional theater company Half Moon Theatre and displays work by local artists on a rotating basis in her two district offices. She writes a blog, Diner Dialogues: Talk of the Hudson Valley.”

Assemblymember Barrett told The Columbia Paper this week that she has long been an advocate for Columbia County bringing attention to critical issues such as broadband coverage. As part of that effort, she said she has met with county leaders and enlisted the support of the governor, who has identified the county as a top priority among places to receive broadband internet service.

She said she has brought significant resources to local school districts and has passed legislation giving the municipalities through which the Roeliff Jansen Kill, Bash Bish Brook and the Claverack, Taghkanic and Agawamuck creeks flow inland waterway status, which makes them eligible for federal and state funding for projects.

The three bills she authored have passed the Senate as well and await the governor’s signature.

Assemblymember Barrett’s legislation regarding mammogram screening and making early screening more accessible became law. Among other things the measure extends hours at mammography facilities; and expands public employee eligibility for annual paid leave for breast cancer screenings.

The assemblymember has authored legislation to curb the spread of Lyme disease. The bills provide instructional materials, raise awareness of simple prevention methods and create guidelines to help residents keep ticks away from their homes.

With Lyme disease in the Hudson Valley at a crisis level and statistics showing Columbia and Dutchess counties ranked first and second respectively for the highest number of cases per capita in the country, Mrs. Barrett has also authored a law that improves the care of those suffering from Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses by allowing physicians to prescribe long-term antibiotic therapy to Lyme disease patients.

She is also a sponsor of legislation that would require health insurers to provide coverage for long-term medical care of Lyme disease; the measure would also establish a tick-borne illness research and education fund, allowing taxpayers to make donations that help support research, detection, treatment and education.

Mrs. Barrett said her two district offices continue to assist constituents on a range of issues and directing them the appropriate federal and state agencies when necessary. She said her district contains 20 municipalities all of which she visits to on a regular basis.

Learn more about the candidate at http://www.didibarrett.com/

Terry Sullivan

Theresa “Terry” Sullivan

Theresa “Terry” Sullivan, 62, of Copake is a Republican running with her party’s endorsement. She has currently served two years of a four-year-term on the Copake Town Board.

Born in New York City, Dr. Sullivan earned her BA and MA degrees in communication disorders at Queens College (speech-language pathology); her post-graduate degree in audiology at Lehman College in the Bronx and her Doctor of Audiology (2000) at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

She is a speech-language pathologist and audiologist, primarily for Berkshire Health Systems, Fairview Hospital and Berkshire Medical Center. She also consults for Ulster County UCP-Community Rehab Center, Camphill Village and the Whittier Nursing Home.

She is married to Joseph V. Ambrose.

Dr. Sullivan is a member of the Copake Republican Club, is a Republican Committee member, a Zumba instructor and serves on the Agricultural Advisory Committee for the Taconic Hills Central School District. She served five years on the Advisory Committee to American Speech and Hearing Association.

Dr. Sullivan told The Columbia Paper this week that one of the main reasons she seeks the state Assembly seat is her concern about “corruption and cronyism in Albany” and her belief that her opponent is part of that long-term.

Though Mrs. Barrett lists her residence as Hudson, Dr. Sullivan says the assemblymember identifies with and lives in New York City.

Her voting record backs that up, 97% of the time she voted with Sheldon Silver,” said Dr. Sullivan, adding a legislator “needs to be connected with constituents, involved and interested.”

At the same time she notes, 50% of the residences in the Roe Jan area are second homes, making the place “a blend of two cultures. “I understand both cultures and will work for the betterment of the entire district.”

Dr. Sullivan said she brings her 40-year healthcare background and life experiences to the table. Describing herself as a member of the middle class, Dr. Sullivan said she understands the needs of the working class and is eager to introduce bills to benefit volunteer fire departments, veterans and to address the heroin epidemic.

Citing her experience working with those with special needs, Dr. Sullivan said she supports Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro’s ThinkDIFFERENTLY initiative, which she said is an example the non-partisan movement that circumvents all parties and people.

The initiative calls on businesses, organizations and individuals to examine how they think of and interact with residents with special needs.

She grew up poor, said Dr. Sullivan, and has been working since the age of 16, which has given her an understanding of small businesses, unemployment and the need to grow the economy.

Taxes must be kept down, said the candidate, while waste and abuse of the system are curbed, along with unfunded mandates, which must be policed.

Dr. Sullivan said she is a strong supporter of Second Amendment Rights and will bring that perspective to better represent the 106th District up in Albany.

Learn more about the candidate at www.drterry4ny.com

To contact Diane Valden email dvalden@columbiapaper.com

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