Barrett challenged by councilwoman in 106th District
Incumbent state Assemblywoman Didi Barrett’s bid for a third two-year term representing the 106th District is being challenged by Copake town Councilwoman Theresa “Terry” Sullivan.
Barrett, of 816 Warren St., Hudson, will be on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families lines, while Sullivan, of 12 Fairview Drive, Copake, will be on the Republican, Conservative and Reform Party lines.
The 106th Assembly District draws from the southern half of Columbia County — including Germantown, Livingston, Clermont, Taghkanic and Gallatin — and a swath of Dutchess County running southwest from the town of North East to the town of Poughkeepsie, including the Northern Dutchess towns of Milan, Pine Plains, Clinton and Hyde Park.
Barrett, 66, is a former freelance journalist and museum professional with the American Folk Art Museum. She was first elected in 2012 and was unsuccessful in a bid for the state Senate in 2010.
Barrett has lived in the district for 29 years and with husband, David, has two adult children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from UCLA in 1972, and received a master’s degree in American folk art from New York University in 1985. She is a member of Northeast Dutchess Friends and the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Barrett identified creating jobs and training programs as a priority.
“One way is an initiative I have been working on to develop programming to train the next generation of trades people to work on historic properties in our region,” she said. “That includes both public properties, like the state historic sites and federal historic sites, (as well as) old houses, old buildings. There is a real shortage of that skill set in our region and across the state.”
Barrett said she would also like to develop programs that deal with mental health and substance abuse problems in the region.
“We lose too many people to drug overdoses and suicide and I think these issue are profoundly related and we need to be addressing mental issues at a much earlier stage in our schools so that kids growing up don’t feel like they don’t have any options and no one to turn to when they’re feeling left out or they’re feeling bullied or they’re feeling depressed,” she said.
“We need to have more programs for people in recovery,” she said. “We can’t start keeping (people in need) for 24 or 48 hours and then release them to deal with things on their own. That’s just not realistic. We need some serious, multifaceted programs to support people in recovery, no matter how their getting addicted.”
Sullivan, 62, is a speech pathologist and audiologist at Community Rehabilitation Center and Fairview Hospital, in Great Barrington, Mass. She has been on the Copake Town Board since 2015. She has lived in the district for 15 years and is married to Joseph Ambrose.
Sullivan received a bachelor’s degree in communica-
tions in 1976 from Queens College, in New York City, where she also earned a master’s degree in 1978; and received a doctorate in audiology in 2000 from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is a member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee at Taconic Hills Central School District.
Sullivan said she considers priorities to be eliminating wasteful spending and
instituting fiscal responsibility. “I think we really need to clean house of the elected officials that have a long-standing history and commitment and owe to the New York City population,” she said. “I feel that I’m coming in with a healthcare background,” Sullivan said. “I really don’t owe anything to anybody. So I can make fair decisions with regard to upcoming policies, legislation, spending.” Sullivan said there is “legislation waiting to be introduced on the Assembly floor that could be sponsored which
will support funding tax credits for various groups for veterans, for seniors, to support fire districts, the volunteer firefighters, for tax credits for education.”
Sullivan said she is also opposed to a proposal to give state legislators a 47 percent salary increase and would like to repeal or amend the Safe Act, state legislation that imposed some regulation of firearms after the massacre of school children in Newtown, Conn. “There are pieces of it that are just not appropriate,” she said. “If you can’t completely
repeal it, you could certainly introduce amendments to it.” Sullivan would like to support existing programs that help deal with the heroin epidemic. “There are existing programs in Dutchess County and a little bit in Columbia County for education and youth in the schools,” she said. “That’s where you have to start, educating the kids in school with regards to the heroin epidemic. There are new drugs on the market that can actually assist with the rehabilitation, so funding for these programs is key.”
Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, left, and Theresa ‘Terry’ Sullivan