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July 24, 2024
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Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Minita Sangvhi launches State Senate Bid in 44th District

Democrat Minita Sanghvi is launching a campaign for New York State Senate. Sanghvi is running in the 44th District, a seat held by Republican Jim Tedisco, who has been in the upper chamber since 2017.Sangvhi, who has served one term as Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner, is a marketing professor at Skidmore College. She says there are pressing issues on the state level that need attention.

Beginning with the basics, why are you running, you know, the pillars of your campaign? The intentions behind your run for the 44th district?

“So there are lots of reasons, you know, there’s the ideological reason that, you know, truly is deeper than my heart,” explained Sangvhi. “And the reason why I run is, as an immigrant, when I came to the US of a hope and a dream of living an honest life here. You know, getting married, having a family, having a house, a pet, you know, a minivan. And I have been able to achieve all of those dreams. You know, I have worked on the shop floor at Walgreens and Walmart, I’ve worked in corporate America, I have worked as an educator now at a college, I met my wife, in 2010, we got married, we have a wonderful nine-year-old boy. And I truly got my chance at the American dream. And I believe everyone deserves their chance at the American dream. And that’s really one of the big reasons why I run. Why I’m running for this specific position is because I believe there’s a big leadership gap right now that we, our district is not getting represented to the best of its abilities at the New York State Legislature in Albany, I believe that we deserve someone who is willing to fight harder, do more. I believe that my opponent is busy playing partisan politics. And we really need issues addressed in our community. Infrastructure issues, economy issues, jobs issues, things that really are the day to day running of our lives issues. And that’s not what is happening. And so, we really need someone to step up and say, you know, I’m going to fold my sleeves up and get to work for district 44 in Albany.”

Jumping off of that. I was wondering if you had any priorities of what needs to get addressed within the legislature?

“Yeah, absolutely. I think infrastructure is number one. You know, we have bridges that need to be resolved. We just had an explosion in Glenville. And we saw that this could happen to many other bridges in Clifton Park, or many other parts of our district. And that’s priority number one, you know, our roads and our bridges,” she said. “These impact people’s day to day lives. Cellular coverage in our area, you know, is spotty in many places, we saw in Washington County where a young girl died, because they didn’t have access to coverage after she got shot for six whole minutes. These are issues that impact our community as well. And they need to be addressed and they need to be fought for. You know, we’re talking about nursing shortages, you know, we’re at hospitals, we are talking about shortages of employees all over Saratoga. I mean, you know, we have an example here of my opponent playing partisan politics, where he has recently talked about some out commission to understand, you know, why people are leaving New York. And yes, that is an issue. But that’s not an issue in his district. Our district has grown 9.4% In the last 13 years, you know, so our issues are different than what some other districts might be having in theirs. They may be losing people, we are talking about, how do we find workers for our retail stores? How do we find workers for our hospitals? And that’s what we need to be focusing on. And that’s not happening right now.”

You’ve just completed a term on a very tumultuous time for Saratoga Springs, local politics as a city councilor. How has your experience in—the council has achieved many things, despite what a lot of Saratoga Springs residents have seen as a very tense time? What are you bringing to the table with that experience of being able to really get things done?

“So, I think that’s one of the key things that if you are paying attention to Saratoga Springs politics, you will know that there were some of us, you know, who were sort of louder than others,” explained Sanghvi. “And some of us that we’re just doing the work behind the scenes. And you know, whether it is funding the third fire station that should be operational very soon, or whether it is finding monies for the establishment of the temporary low-barrier 24/7 homeless shelter, all of these were things that were done behind the scenes, you know, by finance and we have been plugging away often You know, sort of a moderating voice on the city council. Because I believe in working with everyone, I have worked with county to find monies to ensure that code blue code run 24/7. So usually, with Code Blue, because it’s a state mandated program, the people are left to their own devices at eight o’clock in the morning, they shut the doors, and they say, Go on, you know, but it could be cold outside, it could be snowing, it could be sleeting. It doesn’t matter and cold blue shuttered stores. And so we worked with county to ensure that we could pay for Code Blue, and shelters could run it 24/7. So people had a warm place to be at in the daytime to this was beneficial to everyone in the community. And this is just one example of how I’ve worked with county, or, you know, across the aisle, with different people to get things done for Saratoga Springs. And that’s the kind of, you know, problem solver, person that you’re going to get in Albany. If I get elected.”

And going to more local issues that you’ve dealt with, for example, the ongoing issue not in Saratoga Springs, but with the Moreau biochar facility, where advocates, environmental advocates, came and presented at a Saratoga Springs city council meeting. And that’s been something that that you’ve turned some attention to, whether it’s that or some of the other local issues that you’ve been dealing with, with the City Council, you know, what are you from that experience, from that local perspective want to bring to the state legislature?

“So that’s a great point, right? Saratoga Biochar is an excellent example of leadership that sort of did not do its job. And we’ve had advocates who are now going to community to community to discuss this problem. Climate change is a real issue. And any of us who breathe the air that happened in June that, you know, the smoke that came down from Canada, you know, my son plays Little League baseball, and they couldn’t play baseball during that time. People who had asthma and stuff, you know, it got exasperated during that time.” Sangvhi continued, “so, these are actual health issues that are impacting our community. And here we have a Senator who gets an F from the New York League of Conservationists, right? Because he does not vote on climate change initiatives. That’s not what we need in Albany. We need someone who’s going to fight for our kids who’s going to fight for our health, who is going to, you know, vote on important issues like climate change.”

Are you planning on stepping down or taking a step back? What are the plans in place to operate your campaign for the state senate while also managing not only your role as a city councilor, but also a professor at Skidmore College?

“Yeah, we do have some plans in place. I’m not stepping down from my job as the city council person. I am doing that diligently. I was just there right now. So I, I have spoken to the folks at Skidmore, we are hoping to come up with a plan on,” said Sangvhi.

Those larger issues of things that have dominated the state legislature. Within those debates, one of the you know, recurring ones has been public safety, whether it’s clean slate or raise the age or the multiple bail reform efforts that have been going on where do you fall on those larger statewide conversations surrounding public safety?

“I think public safety is an issue all of us are concerned about. And but they are very complex issues. I think it’s critical that we hear from all sides and understand what impact they’re going to have on people. I think bail reform seems to have been resolved, as far as I know, within Albany legislature. I don’t believe there’s a bill up right now. But yeah, I mean, overall, I think public safety is a critical issue that impacts everyone. And it’s something that I will definitely, you know, pay a lot of attention to, and but make sure that I am deliberate on my choices,” explained Sangvhi.

And within those choices, if, sort of, more specifics, at least from your point of view of the differences between how you would approach it versus how the current senator has been approaching public safety?

I think the current Senator plays a lot of partisan politics. One of the things, for example, he gets an A+ on is the National Rifle Association,” said Sangvhi. “I strongly believe in gun safety and gun regulation, but I believe in people’s rights to bear arms. I believe that hunting is a way of life, especially in rural America and for a lot of people hunting is the way. You know, they procure food for them and their families. And I support that. Right. But everybody, you know, who has guns wants to make sure that the guns are locked and kept in a safe place that, you know, our children don’t die from needless gun violence. And so I believe in gun safety very strongly, and something that I would recommend, you know, he does, too, but he doesn’t unfortunately.

What would you want to see come from a future iteration of Hochul’s housing bill, which again, version of it exists now from 2023. Looking forward? What would you want to see added to that, and then sort of continuing conversations that are happening here in Saratoga?

“I think, you know, in Saratoga Springs, we’ve—our administration in the past has worked really hard on affordable housing. We’ve added over 200 units currently and soon in the coming years too. This is a critical issue that impacts a lot of communities. And it’s something that I know, Governor Hochul is looking at, and trying to find ways to battle in lots of different communities, but different communities have different needs,” she explained. “And I think it’s critical that we understand, you know, what those needs are within the community. I know associated dwelling units is another one that Governor Hochul proposed last year that didn’t pass. I think all of these things need to be understood in in the context of how it impacts each district.”

Talking about leadership within the state legislature. Where do you fall on what kind of progress and leadership Andrea Stewart Cousins has been able to provide?

“I think it’s been really incredible. I mean, we’ve achieved a lot in these past two years. And I’m really looking forward to everything that is coming through the Senate, we’ve passed a lot of important bills, and there is still a lot of important stuff to be done. One of the things that I’m hoping to do is there’s an update on hate crimes legislation that Senator Brad Hoylman has put forth, I’m hoping that it gets passed. And if not, then I can contribute in passing it.” Sangvhi continued, “our Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner has put forth a really great legislation that supports local journalism, because this is key, right? Our local newspapers or local news sources are so critical to keeping the public informed about issues in the community. I mean, if we if they are not given help, at this point, we will continue having people like George Santos get elected, because, you know, the New York Times does not have the bandwidth to cover all of New York State in the same way that our local news coverage does. So, you know, these are issues that I care about deeply. And I’m really hoping to contribute and work with, you know, Andrea Stewart Cousins and Mike Gianaris to move that ball forward.”

From the people that you have talked to about it so far. What are you hearing from them? You know, what are you hearing from either sort of people on your team of what needs to be addressed, or, you know, whether you’ve started to have some of those conversations with other residents of Saratoga Springs or surrounding communities about what they want to see from you as a candidate?

“So one of the best things we’re doing is we’re participating in the Public Campaign Finance Program. And that’s a really great program that New York State has just established. And it ensures that me as the candidate cannot take any donation over $250 in my district. So everything from $5, $10, to $250 gets matched by the New York State through the Public Campaign Finance Matching Program. And what it ensures to qualify is that I need 150 individual donors and $12,000. So we’re having a lot of great conversations in our district to get to, you know, to be able to get to talk to people and hear their issues. Hear things like I said, cell coverage or affordable housing, potholes on their roads, sidewalks, food insecurity in Schenectady. These are all important issues that I’m getting to hear from the public that are enabled because of these conversations, and instead of, you know, running after big donors, and hearing about those issues, I’m hearing from our residents on issues that matter to them,” said Sangvhi. “And really, that’s really, the community is fueling this, this idea of me running for Senate, the community is fueling, you know, our platform. They’re the ones saying these are the things we need this as someone you know, we need someone to fight for this. I’ll give you an example. I was talking to someone and they said, you know, one of the fastest growing sports in our region is cricket. And we would love to have more cricket fields. And these are important conversations to have with the community so you understand what are the needs. Our district is changing. Our district is growing. And we have a lot of different people who are coming in who have different like pickleball. Right? Pickleball is growing, cricket is growing. We need more of those. So I am really enjoying the conversations that I’m having every single day with members in our community and spending so much time from Schenectady to Clifton Park, Halfmoon, Moreau, Milton, Wilton, and learning what needs of our community have been ignored and for how long. And it’s really frustrating to them, to see that these are issues that could have gotten resolved but are not getting resolved because of partisan politics.”

Saratoga Springs sort of was a pocket of Republican success locally, you know, you have up in Moreau where that town board was sort of upheaved, you know, and Democrats are now in place, and Clifton Park as well, where Democrats haven’t served for years, if not decades. What do you think that says on the state of leadership and what’s needed from leaders, both Democrat and Republican, leading into again, your run?

“I think what the elections show us is that people need effective leaders. And it doesn’t matter what party you belong to. If you’re not doing your job, then the public gets the right to say no, thank you. And I think that’s what happened. You know, there were people who were doing a good job. But the public didn’t appreciate how they were doing the job. And that is also the public’s right. And, you know, I think it’s critical that the public decides, listen, these are the needs of our community. If you’re not addressing the needs of our community, you need to step aside and let someone else who can do the job do the job. When you think about the vision for the next 10 years of Saratoga, Schenectady, you know, our district, you have to think about who’s the right person to lead us there. And I believe that my opponent is not that person. And we need new ideas. We need a new vision. And, unfortunately, we’re not getting that right now,” said Sangvhi.

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