Democrats vying for Senate seat

Former Ballston Town Supervisor Patti Southworth and political newcomer Madelyn Thorne will face each other in the Democratic primary Sept. 9 to see who will run against Republican state Sen. Hugh T. Farley in November.

The candidates are seeking the Senate seat in the 49th district, which includes all of Fulton and Hamilton counties, as well as northern Herkimer County, eastern Schenectady County and western Saratoga County.

Southworth, 54, was born in Liverpool, Onondaga County, and now lives in Ballston. She has lived in the 49th Senate District since 1978, she said.

Southworth worked for more than 23 years as a licensed pharmacist until she began to serve as Ballston’s town supervisor for three terms, which concluded Jan. 1.

Southworth said her primary goal, if elected state senator, would be to make sure she represents everyone in the district to the best of her ability. She also wants to work on mandate relief.

As a supervisor, Southworth said she has worked with the Upstate Conservative Coalition on programs fighting mandates on local governments. She has tried to show people where their tax dollars are going.

Common Core is also a big issue, Southworth said, and she’d like to address that one first.

“While I agree with the concept of Common Core, helping our children critically, but the program is a failure and we are failing our students and our teachers,” Southworth said.

Southworth said one of the primary differences between herself and Thorne is Southworth does not support the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

“It didn’t do anything that made New York state residents safer. It just penalized legal gun owners,” Southworth said.

She said she has a proven track record, both in private businesses and municipalities, and says she knows how to help build the area’s economy.

“I know exactly what those stresses are in local communities,” Southworth said.

Schenectady resident Thorne, who is also running on the Working Families Party line, faced Farley in the 2012 election, earning 40 percent of the vote. Thorne, 60, said she had 30 years of industrial sales experience before ending her career as director of pastoral care at Glendale Nursing Home.

Thorne said one of her biggest concerns is the inequality in school funding in the district.

“The schools in upstate New York are drastically underfunded due to the [Gap Elimination Adjustment] formula,” Thorne said, referring to the formula that forces some districts to pay a percentage of their school aid back.

“It is punishing our school districts. There is not one district within the 49th district that is getting adequate funding. … [Students] should all have the opportunity to receive a full comprehensive, decent education,” Thorne said.

Thorne said investing in education leads to better preparedness for college and the work force, which could boost the economy. Thorne also wants to support women’s equality and move the burden of Medicaid costs from counties and cities to the state.

Thorne said she supports the Second Amendment and the right to hunt, shoot and collect firearms, but says the SAFE Act is necessary.

“We cannot have assault weapons on our streets,” Thorne said. “I want to be safe in my home. You want to be safe in your home. We all need to be safe in our homes, and assault weaponry should not be allowed to proliferate on our streets.”

Farley will be seeking his 15th two-year term in the general election.

The job has a base salary of $79,500.