Serino, Gipson in Senate rematch
State Sen. Sue Serino will be in a return match against former state Sen. Terry Gipson in trying to win a second term in representing the 41st state Senate District.
Serino, of 38 Mansion Drive, in Hyde Park, will be on the Republican, Independence, Conservative, and Reform Party lines. Gipson, of 84 East Market Street, Rhinebeck, will be on the Democratic, Working Families, Green, and Women’s Equality line.
The 41st Senate District comprises all of Dutchess County, except for the town of Beekman and Pawling; and the Putnam County towns of Kent, Putnam Valley and Philipstown.
Gipson, 53, is a lecturer of communications at SUNY New Paltz. He was on the Rhinebeck Village Board for two terms from 2007-2011, won a state Senate seat in 2012 but lost to Serino in his reelection bid in 2014.
Gipson and wife Michelle Donner have lived in the district for 10 years. He graduated from John Tyler High School, in Tyler, Texas, in 1981; earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Texas Tech University in 1986; and received a master’s degree in fine arts from Penn State University in 1991. He is a member of Kiwanis Club of Poughkeepsie and the Rhinebeck Historic Society.
“I want to change how we fund public education, which means I want to eliminate property taxes as they apply to school funding,” he said. “I want to replace that with a system that is fully funded by the state and I want the full funding of the state to be financed by asking those who make a million dollars or more to pay their fair share into the education system.”
Gipson said focusing on the environment is going to be a priority for the next legislature, which should work at reducing the risks from major industries.
“It’s going to require that we put more pressure on General Electric to finish their job of cleaning up the Hudson River, and it’s going to require that we put stricter regulations on the oil trains that run up and down the Hudson River and make them safer, and it’s going to require that we not allow these barges that want to dock in the Hudson River as oil depots,” he said. “We can’t allow that to happen, and it’s finally and most important going to require that the state invest more into update our drinking water systems all throughout the state and the Hudson Valley because they’re all deteriorating beyond their life and putting all of our drinking water at risk.”
Gipson said ethics reform needs to include discussions about “getting the big corporate money” out of the political system.
“The way to do that is to close the LLC loophole,” he said. “This is legislation that democrats support and it’s legislation republicans continue to opposes. So it’s one of the things that could be accomplished easily with a democratic state Senate.”
Gipson said he favor term limits and would like to see discussions start at limiting elected offices to 16 years.
Gipson contends that stronger efforts to deal with the heroin epidemic needs to include more opportunities to have addiction treatment covered through insurance.
“The heroin epidemic is an issue that needs to be dealt with and it requires that we put stronger regulations on the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry because people are not getting access to the rehab that they need to get off heroin and that’s the fault of the insurance industry lobby and their enormous influence on campaigns,” he said.
Serino, 55, owns Serino Realty and was previously on the Hyde Park Town Board from 2010-11 and the Dutchess County Legislature 2012-14. She previously lost a race for the Town Board in 2008.
Serino has lived in the district since 1997 and with husband Mark has one adult child. He graduated from John Jay High School in 1979 and is a member of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce.
Serino said priorities for the district include economic grown.
“That starts with bringing new businesses here,” she said.
“I live in Hyde Park, we don’t have a sewer,” she said. “People would say...that’s the Town Board’s fault and it’s not. It’s not people’s decision, it’s that we’ve had a lack of funding, so I’d like to see funding come for a sewer district here...We have a lot of empty stores here. It would enable other businesses to be here.”
Serino said among the most important accomplishments has been for the state to commit to a $24 million project to put in a overpass that allow Pudding Street drivers to cross the Taconic State Parkway.
“350 kids a day travel on a school bus to cross the street,” she said. “For 20 years people in Putnam have been told we’re going to be addressing this and putting an overpass in.”
Serino said dealing with the heroin addiction epidemic needs to be a priority for the next legislature.
“We got $189 million in the budget this year,” she said. “That’s a lot of money and some of that money should go toward recovery because when you talk to parents ... there’s no place for these young people to go.”
Serino said there also needs to be more awareness of the state’s Good Samaritan Law, which allows someone to call for help if someone else is having a drug overdose and not be prosecuted even if they are carrying the drugs.
“There was a young man in his early 20s just about a month ago, he was in a car in his driveway with his buddy,” she said. “His buddy left him in the car while ... (there was a) Narcan kit inside. He did not call 911 because he didn’t know about the Good Samaritan Law.”
Serino said corruption among lawmakers in Albany can be curbed with term limits and cutting pensions for officials convicted of felonies.
“If I am fortunate enough to get elected again I would term limit myself out at eight years,” she said. “I don’t even take a per diem. I look at people who are driving back and forth ... I might be going to
Albany, they are going to New York City paying Metro North, they’re paying the parking. I don’t take money for gas and I don’t take the $170 a day that I’d be eligible to take.”
Serino said recent reports about potential pay raises for state lawmakers are a concern.
“At one point they said it was 47 percent and another article (said) 80 percent,” she said. “That’s ridiculous and between that and the governor saying he wants to do away with outside income and two-year terms. That’s a recipe for corruption because if somebody has to not have outside income and they’re struggling to keep that job I think it opens the door for corruption.”
Terry Gipson, left, and state Sen. Sue Serino