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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Minita Sanghvi to run against James Tedisco for state Senate position

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SCHENECTADY — Minita Sanghvi, a Democrat who was recently sworn in for her ⁢second term as Saratoga⁣ Springs Finance Commission, is expected to announce her candidacy Monday for the New York State 44th Senate District.

She will face Republican incumbent and ⁤seasoned politician Sen. James Tedisco for ⁣the seat representing all of Saratoga County, the city of Schenectady and the town of Niskayuna.

“I feel like I have ⁢a few years ⁢under my belt, but I still have ​a lot of new ideas for what ⁣we could be⁣ doing, especially in the​ district, and ⁣most importantly I think we deserve‍ better than someone who has been playing partisan politics for the last 40 years and has not been doing much for our district,” she said in an interview Thursday.

Sanghvi became the​ first openly gay ⁤elected official⁢ in Saratoga Springs ⁣in 2021. She moved to the United States over two decades ago from India. She is currently an ​associate professor of marketing at Skidmore College‍ and a published author.

Tedisco was elected to the 44th District seat in⁣ 2016 after previously serving in the Assembly from 1983⁤ to 2016. Tedisco is very well-known in the area, having graduated ⁣from Union College and played on its ⁤basketball team during his ‌time there.

Sanghvi said she has experienced the American dream firsthand, and wants to ensure⁢ that opportunity is available to everyone.

“My dream was a house and a⁢ minivan, a pet, and a kid and a family. That’s what I wanted, and to have reached that, I feel so lucky that I want to be ⁢able to have everyone get that chance,” she said

Sanghvi ⁢has already been speaking to people and connecting with voters on issues in the district she’ll ⁢try⁤ to represent. On Thursday, she was at the Schenectady Shares ⁢event, in which the group kicked off its annual event to ⁣restock food pantries in an effort to quell food insecurity in Schenectady County.

That’s just one of the many issues Sanghvi hopes to⁢ focus on during her campaign, and if elected.

“There’s no ​one-cut solution for everyone,” she said regarding tackling the problems facing the district.

She said some issues⁣ are more localized to certain communities, like‌ the proposal⁤ to build a Biochar facility in Moreau. On that issue, Sanghvi said she wants to see what comes‌ of the Department of Conservations review of ‌the project and will support the townspeople if ⁢they believe an investigation is needed to​ review what has happened over the⁢ last couple of years.

One issue she ⁣wants to address across the district is getting infrastructure funding. While the district no longer encompasses Glenville, Sanghvi brought up the recent explosion that occurred after a⁣ truck crashed into the​ Maple Avenue bridge, noting she’s heard from ‌people in the district who can point to ‍other bridge issues. She said the district needs to be represented in conversations surrounding funding to⁣ address those problems.

“I ⁤think that⁣ it is ⁣a ⁤key issue,” she said. “We know that there are ​monies​ coming through the⁣ pipeline and it’s important that our bridges, our roads get some of those monies.”

She also wants to concentrate‌ on finding synergies between various ‌agencies and organizations so ⁣that they can build upon what they are doing.

“Finding ways that we can connect those⁤ people and create more innovation, more entrepreneurship in our area, so people that ​are ​graduating don’t go away, but stay and do more things here and start‌ businesses that‌ create more jobs,” she said.

Climate change and its⁢ impacts to the district is another issue she is focusing on. She‍ said everyone experienced what​ happened ​when smoke from the Canadian fires last summer swept across the state causing problems.

“These⁢ are things ⁣that impact kids,” she said. “My son plays Little League baseball and he couldn’t‍ play baseball because of⁤ the smoke. People ⁣that ⁢had health issues, ​they got exacerbated because of the smoke coming through.”

Sanghvi said she has supported climate change efforts as a City ​Council member, helping the city apply ​for⁤ and fund a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan to eventually get​ the city to carbon neutrality.

To get all of these issues addressed and others, Sanghvi said she’s willing ‌to work with⁣ people across the aisle.⁣ Although ⁣she sat on a City Council with a Democratic majority, not everyone always saw eye to eye and she said one lesson she’s taking‍ from her time on the ⁤council is to find common goals.

“We will find lots of things ⁢to disagree⁢ on but as long⁣ as we‍ can find two things we can agree upon, ⁤that’s what we should ⁣work on and that’s⁢ what we should move forward and that’s how everybody wins,” she said.

In‍ the 44th‍ Senate District, Democrats currently hold a voter enrollment⁤ advantage, with 75,919 registered voters compared ‌to 71,030 registered Republicans, ​according​ to state data. There are 1,038 people registered with the Working Families Party and⁣ 4,038 registered Conservatives.

Even so, Sanghvi believes she⁣ can sway ⁢those outside the Democratic party⁣ to vote for her,⁣ too.

“I think at the end of the day people care less about party politics than they‍ care about someone who is effective, who is there for the needs of the community, who shows up and who’s willing to do the work,” she said.

She hopes to do that with the support of unions, as well. Tedisco over the years has been ​backed by ​some large unions in the state, including the Civil Service Employees Association and the New York State⁣ Unified​ Teachers Association.

Sanghvi said she’s been actively working with and helping unions in​ the district, pointing to her recent presence at ⁣the New York State Nurses Associations protest regarding staffing outside ⁣of ⁤Ellis Hospital in Schenectady.

She also said she helped non-tenure track faculty at Skidmore College unionize, including getting the⁤ group a meeting with​ then-Mayor Ron Kim⁢ and a letter of ⁣support from the City Council. Sanghvi said she also spearheaded a letter that all of the City Council members ‌signed supporting the unionization of the backstretch⁢ workers at‍ Saratoga Race Course.

“At ‍the end of the day, that’s what I’m hoping‍ the unions will see is, ‘Who is there standing ‍with ‍you?’” she said. “‘Who is there showing up to do the work?’ ‍And,‍ then, the unions have to decide whom ‍they think is going to be more effective for them ‌in the state Senate.”

Sanghvi has also gained ⁤support of some elected officials, including Schenectady Legislator Michelle Ostrelich, who represents ⁢Niskayuna, and previously ran against ​Tedisco.

“She’s a good friend, but every campaign is different, every moment is different,” Sanghvi said. “Every individual is different in the ‍way they approach things. My focus is a lot more ‍on the economy, on infrastructure, on jobs.⁢ Not every campaign focused​ on⁤ that, but ⁢that’s my area of expertise.”

Sanghvi identifies herself as a problem-solver. She⁣ said she⁢ has worked as an assistant manager at Walmart doing everything from unloading trucks to cleaning bathrooms,​ to working in‌ corporate America and now​ as a professor at Skidmore College.

“I feel that we⁤ have a real leadership gap right now and ​that’s what I’m here to help with,” she said. “I often tell people when they talk about the ⁣deadlock in Congress or the issues in the New York State Legislature, if we are not out there ⁢folding up our ​sleeves and getting involved,​ then we can’t crib about what’s wrong‍ and that’s really what ‍I’m doing.”

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Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres
Rafael Torres, a native of Schenectady, has returned to his hometown after several years of reporting in the Midwest. A graduate of Missouri School of Journalism, Alex is known for his empathetic approach to local news, covering everything from community events to local governance, always with an aim to bridge diverse perspectives.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Agree #Let’s see some fresh faces and new perspectives in the state Senate! Excited to see what Minita Sanghvi brings to the table.

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