Amy M. Tresidder is blunt in her appraisal of state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, her potential Nov. 6 opponent.
“Obviously, I don’t think she’s done that great a job, or I wouldn’t be running against her,” Mrs. Tresidder, a Democratic county legislator in Oswego County, said at her campaign kickoff Thursday in Watertown.
Mrs. Tresidder, 56, is hoping to persuade voters that Mrs. Ritchie’s freshman term hasn’t borne the fruit that was promised in her 2010 campaign. Mrs. Tresidder argues that Mrs. Ritchie turned her back on her constituents with several key votes and missed opportunities in the past year and a half, and said that she would bring an independent ethic to Albany.
“I don’t think that Albany is really much different than it’s ever been. I think it’s a political tug of war.” Mrs. Tresidder said at the Jefferson County Democratic Party Headquarters on Public Square. “And I think people need to be the winners.”
Senate Republicans hold a 32-29 edge in the upper chamber going into the November elections, and have a wide fundraising edge over their Democratic counterparts. The 48th Senate District, composed of part of St. Lawrence County and all of Jefferson and Oswego counties, has historically been dominated by the GOP. By enrollment numbers, it’s the most heavily Republican district in the state Senate.
That’s not to say that a Democratic victory there would be unprecedented. In 2008, Darrel J. Aubertine, a Democrat of Cape Vincent, won election to represent the area.
Mrs. Tresidder said she spoke recently with Mr. Aubertine, who wished her luck.
Graham D. Wise, Mrs. Ritchie’s chief of staff, said in an email that Mrs. Ritchie “looks forward to a discussion of her strong record of putting taxpayers first.”
“Two years ago, Senator Ritchie went to what had been dubbed the ‘most dysfunctional state capital in America’ and she got results, and helped make government work again,” Mr. Wise said in an email. “Some people want to go backwards. Senator Ritchie wants to continue to move New York forward.”
But Mrs. Tresidder said that Mrs. Ritchie’s record needs to be thoroughly examined.
For example, Mrs. Ritchie pledged in her 2010 run that she would vote to turn the state’s decennial redistricting process over to an impartial panel. But the lines in 2012 were redrawn with incumbents in mind. The district that Mrs. Ritchie represents did not change much. She did vote for a constitutional amendment that, if passed in 2013, would turn the process over to an outside group for the 2022 elections. How “independent” those results are is a subject of much debate.
But is such an insider issue a subject of debate in the homes of the 48th Senate District?
“Maybe not. Maybe they won’t” care about the issue, Mrs. Tresidder said. “But it’s a whole package of integrity. Every decision you make reflects upon what you said, and whether you’re willing to back that up.”
She also criticized Mrs. Ritchie for promising to bring back a popular property tax break that was revoked under Democratic Party control of the state Senate, and for not supporting legislation that would allow St. Lawrence County to hike its sales tax.
Mrs. Tresidder also said she would have supported approving gay marriage in 2011, which Mrs. Ritchie voted against.
“I’m for equality for everyone,” Mrs. Tresidder said.
She also said that she supports raising the minimum wage, which Mrs. Ritchie has so far declined to get on board.
“It’s very important that people are able to make a living,” Mrs. Tresidder said.
She said she wouldn’t be beholden to downstate interests, though wouldn’t say whether she’d refuse money from the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the political arm of the caucus she hopes to join.
She is a native of St. Lawrence County, where she worked as a secretary for Clarkson University and other organizations. She moved to Oswego with her husband 33 years ago. She is a homemaker and raised five children, who are now grown.
Mrs. Tresidder said she was taken aback by a question Thursday about what qualified her to run as a stay-at-home mother.
“I think that any woman in here who’s been a homemaker understands the answer to that question,” she said. “It takes patience, flexibility, and organizational skills to get the job done right. Your heart is in that job every day.”
Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, endorsed Mrs. Tresidder at the event.
Despite possible financial and organizational disadvantages, Mrs. Russell said that her Democratic colleague has a shot at winning the district.
“This is still a race that’s decided on the individual qualities of the candidates,” she said.