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Russell is cautiously optimistic on Senate Majority Coalition

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ALBANY – The recently christened Senate Majority Coalition may lead to a “strong voice” for the north country, according to Assembly Member Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa.

“I think it’s going to be something we all watch very closely to see if this partnership is successful,” Mrs. Russell said.

Five breakaway Democrats, collectively known as the Independent Democratic Caucus, joined forces with the Senate Republicans to form a majority earlier this week.

Without the IDC joining with the Republicans, Democrats may have taken the upper house depending on how the races in the 46th and 41st Senate Districts are decided.

The new coalition government, however, is likely to preserve many upstate Republicans in positions of leadership.

Ms. Russell said that IDC member Sen. David J. Valesky, D-Oneida, is now part of the governing majority as a result of the coalition, and that means there is another Democratic voice in power in Albany.

Mr. Valesky was unavailable for comment.

“The fact that we have an upstate senator that is part of this coalition means that the north country really has a strong voice,” she said.

Mrs. Russell has said she views Mr. Valesky as an upstate partner.

Other north country representatives including Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, Sen. Elizabeth O’C. Little, R-Queensbury, and Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, all have committee chair positions.

Mr. Griffo said the coalition “allows all of us [Republican senators] to continue to be in a governing majority.”

Mr. Griffo added that if they had become the minority, the north country Republicans would have been “stifled.”

“There’s a strong incentive for these five Democrats and the Republicans to work together to find a middle ground,” Mrs. Russell said.

Mr. Griffo said that the new coalition more or less reflects the reality of the Senate for the last two years anyway.

The last two years have seen the IDC and the Senate Republicans work together on numerous occasions, according to Mr. Griffo.

“Partnering with the IDC and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over the last two years, we’re moving the state in the right direction,” he said.

Mr. Griffo said he is excited about the prospects of ensuring taxes are not raised and keeping corruption in check.

Mrs. Russell said she is excited to work with her Senate colleagues on progressive issues.

In particular, she said, she is looking for the IDC to join her in proposing and end to the gap elimination adjustment for school aid.

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