On Tuesday, Republican state Sen. Catharine Young will be seeking reelection for the third time if she can defeat Democratic candidate Mike McCormick.
Sen. Young, R-Olean, was first elected to the senate during a special election in 2005 and won reelection in 2006 and 2008 for the 57th District, which covers Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and southern parts of Livingston County. McCormick, of Andover, is a former Allegany County legislator and a dairy and crops farmer.
Sen. Young has vowed to bring balance back to the senate. In a news release, the senator said that as a result of the 2008 elections, the state is currently under one-party control with New York City bureaucrats holding the majority in the Senate and Assembly as well as the governor's office.
''The last two years have been plagued by oppressive new taxes, stifling regulations and a leadership that seems determined to drive every single business and job out of New York,'' she said. ''It's critically important that we restore a balance of power in Albany so taxpayers and small businesses outside the city of New York once again have a voice of leadership to protect their interests.''
Sen. Young said job creation has been a key priority for her as she helped to pass bills for job-creating tax credits, the elimination of certain small-business taxes and a moratorium on new taxes, fees and regulations. The senator has also called for a spending cap to shut down out-of-control state spending, needed Medicaid reforms to root out fraud to achieve savings and to consolidate state agencies and commissions to maximize efficiencies. Sen. Young has also voted for a cap on school property tax increases and favored mandate relief to help school districts deal with rising costs.
''I will continue the fight for property tax relief, along with mandate relief for schools and local governments, Medicaid reform and a spending cap,'' she said. ''We desperately need fiscal responsibility and accountability.''
Sen. Young has fought for the agricultural industry as both chair and a ranking member of the Senate's Agriculture Committee, winning aid for the state's dairy farmers and helping develop and fund life-saving farm safety initiatives. She was also instrumental in defeating a series of farm labor bills that she said would have given New York the dubious honor of having the most repressive labor mandates in the entire country.
''Farming pumps several billion dollars into New York's economy every year. Those dollars roll over at least three times,'' she said. ''The Farm Labor bill would be a disaster for our state's top industry and it's hard to believe that our leaders in Albany tried to force this legislation on our farm families.''
Prior to serving in the Senate, Sen. Young served for five years in the state Assembly where she was named to several top leadership positions. The senator also serves as a member of the Senate's Rural Resources Commission, Transportation Committee, Health Committee, Environmental Conservation Committee, Housing Committee and Insurance Committee.
McCormick said he has been involved in town and county politics for 16 years and for 30 years in private business.
''I'm not by any stretch of the imagination a career politician,'' he said. ''I've enjoyed the post I've been assigned to in government. My heart and soul belongs to the interest of private enterprises and businesses in the district.''
With dairy and crops, which include potatoes, corn, oats and hay, the farmer said if he represents the 57th district his main focus will be representing the interest of the district. However, he said working with others - even those from New York City - to get the job done is important.
''My opponent has drawn a line in the sand with some of those from downstate,'' he said. ''I think we have to do a better job of getting along with those people. If we embrace some of their ideas then they might embrace some of ours.''
McCormick said he is in favor of lower taxes, but doesn't believe a tax cap is the way.
''With my experience with the state, if they mandated a property tax cap and local municipalities don't follow it there would be repercussions. I believe that local people - whether it be a school district, a county, town or village - are aware of what they need to do. If they got to raise taxes ... that is their business, not the state's. On the other hand a municipality is free to reduce taxes,'' he said. ''A tax cap is tied to consumer price index, so it is going to creep up anyway. I just don't think it would work.''
McCormick said if he was elected he would be an advocate for the state's environment.
''Our state is blessed with beautiful natural resources, especially in this district where we have some of the finest hardwood in the country and the world. We also, this time of the year, have some of the nicest scenery,'' he said. ''We are sitting on some natural gas reserves that haven't been proven yet. The Marcellus Shale formation has some positive and negative issues. Somehow we have to capture that resource without hurting some of our other resources.''
McCormick said he has enjoyed campaigning and meeting new people as he travels the district.
''I like to talk to the people to find out what is on their minds and taking on some of the issues they have had and the ones they want to confront,'' he said. ''I started my campaign in late May and I'm receiving support from the Democratic base. Both sides of the aisle wish you good luck. They may not tell you who they will be voting for, but people are happy to know there are those interested in vying for the state Senate seat. People wishing me well is always nice to hear.''