GLENS FALLS -- Democrat Dennis Tarantino formally entered the race for state Assembly on Monday, saying he wants to “go back to Albany,” the city where he lived in a public housing development as a young adult, to make a difference in government.
“I’m not a rich man. I was a poor man at one time. I lived in Albany in a public housing project. ... I left there at age 25,” said Tarantino, in a speech at the community room at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls.
Tarantino, a lawyer who lives in Queensbury, is running for the open seat in the new 114th Assembly District, against Queensbury Supervisor Dan Stec, who has the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party nominations.
Tarantino said he is running “so that people have a choice, a clear choice” in the race for the seat that will be open because Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, R-Willsboro, is retiring at the end of the year.
“Some people think that this seat is one that should be given to someone by a person or a political party. That is not true,” he said. “The Assembly seat in this district belongs to all of us.”
Tarantino, who owns a law firm and a title insurance company in Glens Falls, said he would bring a business owner’s perspective to government.
Capital District Business Review recently ranked Maple Abstract & Reality Corp., his company, as the seventh-largest title insurance company in the Albany region, Tarantino said.
“I enter this race because I’m a business man who understands the frustrations we all have with state government,” he said. “Government has to know when to get out of our way so we can do business. And it has to know when it should lead the way to help us with our infrastructure, with creating jobs and working in partnership with private enterprise.”
Stec has said that his campaign is centered around reducing unfunded state mandates.
An unfunded mandate is a program or service that the state requires municipal governments and school districts to provide, without providing funding to pay for the program or service.
Tarantino said he will be discussing mandate relief later in the campaign.
“I understand that we are investigating that. ... I am very sensitive to that, especially in the Medicaid area,” he said.
Tarantino said the state should take over the local cost of Medicaid.
“But we have to be very careful that we don’t cut a service that is vitally necessary for our good people,” he said.
Tarantino said the federal government should provide more education funding to ease the crunch school districts are facing because of a 2 percent tax cap.
“We have very serious problems that we can’t solve with one full swoop,” he said, responding to a question about education funding from the audience of a few dozen.
Stec issued a press release on Monday criticizing Assembly Democrats for passing legislation last week that would require all new semiautomatic handguns sold in New York state to be micro-stamped with a unique code that is transferred to shell casings when the gun is fired.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has said that requiring the technology will help police officers investigate crimes and will discourage illegal gun sales.
Stec disputes that.
“The Assembly Democrats sponsored and passed this legislation despite evidence that this bill does nothing to prevent or solve violent crime,” Stec said in a press release.
Tarantino said he was not familiar with micro-stamping or the legislation that Stec referred to, but he would research the issue and take a stance in the future.
Tarantino said the district needs an Assembly member that will work to solve problems, not be antagonistic.
“So we can all fight. We can all argue. We can get our ideology going,” he said. “But at the end of the day, what has to happen, is problems have to get solved.”
He said he has represented legal clients in dealings with 48 of the 107 state agencies.
Tarantino announced an endorsement from state Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Albany.
“I wholeheartedly endorse your candidacy and I encourage all voters of the new 114th Assembly District to send you to the Assembly,” Breslin said, in an endorsement letter.
Stec said Monday afternoon that he welcomes Tarantino to the race.
“I think it’s a good thing that the Democrats have fielded a candidate because I think it’s a good thing when the people have a clear choice,” he said.
Stec announced that 10 Republican county supervisors from Essex County endorsed his candidacy on Monday.
“History has proven that town supervisors know the issues and are best suited to carry them to Albany,” said Moriah Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, one of the 10, in a press release.
The 114th District includes all of Warren and Essex counties and parts of northern Saratoga and northern Washington counties.