If you work full time, you should be able to support your family with those wages. Family is at the heart of our lives; three and four job households tear at the fabric of our society. A minimum wage that allows a full-time working man or woman to live with dignity on their salary, with holidays, vacation and sick time, are all basic worker rights. There are challenges and costs, but the fact that something is not easy doesn’t mean it should not be attempted and accomplished. I will support and build upon the progress already underway to improve basic worker rights.
I had the good fortune to benefit from access to a wide variety of educational opportunities. As a graduate of a public high school with a few semesters at Indiana University, I moved to New York State in 1971. While working full time, I received degrees from Cayuga County Community College (formerly Auburn Community College) and SUNY Empire State College, finishing my education with an M.B.A. from Syracuse University.
My wife and I raised three children with a commitment to provide them with the best possible education, with the least possible debt. Our children follow in their parent’s footsteps, working full time to pursue their undergraduate and graduate degrees with a commitment to service and democratic ideals.
Putting my commitment to education in action, I served on the Southern Cayuga Central School District Board and spent the majority of my professional life expanding opportunities for all as the Dean of Continuing Education at Cayuga Community College and on the faculty at Empire State College.
I know that college isn't for everyone, but the opportunity to go to college should be within everyone's reach. An educated population from preschool to college is a tremendous resource, which must be supported. I understand the challenge of working while attending college, and I support the expansion of the Excelsior Scholarship program to make it more affordable for adults to attend post-secondary schools on a part time basis.
We are fortunate to live in an incredibly beautiful area. When I shared with a friend of mine years ago that I was moving to the Finger lakes, he said, “I have been all over the world, and I think one of the most beautiful places anywhere is the Finger Lakes.” He was right. We must take advantage of our natural beauty, our wineries, emerging distilleries, craft breweries, and our summer and winter sports, to make tourism a major economic driver for our area.
I will work directly with our wineries, breweries, distilleries, inns and other groups, to identify areas in which support from Albany is needed and move to capture that support.
We must also remember that the same reasons that lead people to visit us as tourists are among the reasons people want to live here. Providing cultural, educational, and social opportunities will contribute to our ability to attract workers which in turn will increase our attractiveness to business.
CULTURE AND THE ARTS
Supporting arts and culture in our communities defines our quality of life. Whether it is supporting events like Holiday in Homer, the Great Race in Auburn, the Marathon Maple Festival, or our libraries, museums, and theaters, these are the things that bring us together, that add to our collective identity and make us a community. The importance of arts and culture in providing an environment to attract business and development is critical.
In 2017, in the absence of an administrator in Cayuga County, I developed the Cayuga County budget. I was careful to include a small amount of seed funding for groups that would not otherwise have access to financial support art and cultural programs. The amount was small, but the message is important: we value those events, programs and opportunities that enrich our lives. We must continue to sponsor and fund the arts, and I will do so as a member of the Assembly.
WINE, BEER, DISTILLERIES
We are becoming increasingly known for our wine and craft brews. Add to this the emergence of regional distilleries and we have an economic driver that not only provides business and employment opportunities in production but adds to tourism opportunities. Supporting the growth of these industries and removing market barriers must be a focus to unleash their growth potential.