Assemblyman Marcus Molinaro will appear on the Republican and Independence ballot lines in the November 8, 2011 election.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I began to volunteer and work in the Village of Tivoli as well as interned for then-Assemblywoman Eileen Hickey as a teenager. In 1994, at the age of 18, I was elected to the Tivoli Board of Trustees. The very next year I became the youngest mayor in the United States. I was re-elected Mayor five times and elected four times to the Dutchess County Legislature, where I served as Chairman of the Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee and Co-Chairman of the Commission on Child Protection.
First elected to the New York State Assembly in 2006, I am now in my third term as the representative of the 103rd District. During my tenure I led the fight to preserve the Hudson River Valley Greenway and adopt sweeping budget and ethics reform legislation. I joined then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo in sponsoring and adopting the “Government Consolidation and Citizen Empowerment Act.” I also sponsored several improvements to New York State’s Election Law, continue to oppose the MTA payroll tax, and work to provide the necessary relief to revitalize our economy and improve our shared quality of life. Last year, I was appointed by Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb to serve as Assistant Assembly Minority Leader Pro Tempore and by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on his Transition Team then subsequently to serve as a member of the Governor’s Mandate Relief Redesign Team.
My wife Christy and I reside in Red Hook where we are both active members of the community. We are the proud parents of Abigail Faith (6 years old) and Jack Henry (2 years old). I’m a graduate of Dutchess Community College, where I earned a Dutchess United Educators award, and the PACE Land Use Law Center Community Leadership Alliance.
What experience and/or training has prepared you to serve in the position you seek?
My nearly two decades of public service experience has made for great on-the-job-training in preparing me to be Dutchess County’s next Executive. I am proud to have been recognized by the Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce and “Capitol” news publication as one of their first “Forty under Forty” leaders. The Albany Times Union cited me as one of Albany’s “True Reformers,” the Hudson Register Star recognized him as a “strong advocate,” and the Poughkeepsie Journal called me a “voice of reason.” As County Executive I will continue to reform, advocate, and be that voice of reason for all the people I serve.
Please share your thoughts on property taxes and any specific related changes or policies you support and will work to pass if elected.
High property taxes are choking the life out of our economy; it drives businesses and residents from our State and County. That is why this year I supported a 2% tax cap on property taxes for all government entities. It is a measure that will force government to reexamine how it will spend taxpayer dollars. However, as I have continued to advocate since my very first day in Albany, we need to stop the State’s “pass-the-buck” mentality that results in excessive unfunded mandates. Just as the County Legislature did for the 2011 budget, we must find innovative ways to control spending, balance the County budget, and hold flat the property tax levy while ensuring that crucial community programs continue to get funding. It is not an easy task, but with my style of leadership that seeks an active dialogue with all stakeholders, I believe we can achieve it year after year.
What is your position on the prison overcrowding, jail construction and public safety issue?
Public safety is a core function of County government. In order to carry it out properly, Dutchess County must stop its unsafe and impractical, not to mention costly, decision to house-out its excess inmates to county jails around the State. There comes a point when the County pays more in housing out of inmates then it would on a bond payment for a larger jail. I believe we reached that point years ago and that is why as County Executive I will work with the Sheriff as well as the County Legislature to find a solution to our jail overcrowding. We will work with Senator Steve Saland and Governor Cuomo to seek approval to make use of excess capacity in state facilities, negotiate with our neighbors to develop regional overflow capacity and expand our own inmate capacity in the county. Taking these steps will enable us enhance our already robust Alternatives to Incarceration programs and work within the judiciary to improve the court process and implement a broader diversion court system. With one-third of all inmates housed out in New York coming from Dutchess County something must be done.
What is your position on independent redistricting at the county level?
Redistricting is a function of the Dutchess County Legislature. However, I have made it perfectly clear that as County Executive I will not support any redistricting plan that is not done by a fair, independent redistricting commission. Further, I encourage the Legislature to examine its current number of seats and offer that other counties represent more people with fewer legislators. As a sponsor of legislation to force independent redistricting in Albany and signing a pledge to promote such, I have been named by NY Uprising as a “hero of reform.” I intend to remain committed to such as County Executive.
Choose one more important issue facing our county today and how you will handle it.
One of my first acts as County Executive will be to fill the vacant position of Commissioner of Solid Waste Management. This person will have a difficult job ahead of them but with my administration’s support he or she will be tasked with increasing the County’s recycling and composting rate that will decrease the overall tonnage of solid waste in our garbage stream. While doing this the Commissioner of Solid Waste and I will look to privatize the waste-to-energy plant which converts roughly 100,000 tons of waste a year into usable energy. My hope is that under private ownership the eco-friendly plant will be more cost and operationally efficient so that it can take in more solid waste in an effort to prevent those tons from being buried in a less eco-friendly landfills. These steps, plus holding the RRA accountable and investing in single-stream recycling, we will enhance our system and save tax dollars.
Why should voters pick you on election day?
Two people who cultivated my desire for public service are my grandfather, a World War II veteran and former postman, and my first employer, Assemblywoman Eileen Hickey. Collectively these two taught me to respect others, give generously, and put people ahead of politics. Never forgetting these things, I dedicated myself to building better communities — first as Mayor of Tivoli, then as County Legislator, and now as State Assemblyman.
We face the most challenging economic conditions since the Great Depression with high unemployment, new demands on government, and a need to do more with less. I want to be our next County Executive because I understand these challenges, the character of our people, and our unyielding potential to build a better future. Cutting spending and taxes, revitalizing our economy, protecting our citizens, and preserving our quality of life will be my priorities. I will work every day for your support and respect. That is why voters should pick me on Election Day.