CATSKILL — A packed crowd made it to the town of Catskill on Saturday, not just for the fun and food at the Catskill Food Truck festival, but for politics as well.
Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee who is running for the governor’s office, stopped by in Catskill to host a Greene/Columbia counties town hall forum on Saturday. The event was hosted at the Robert C. Antonelli Senior Center on Academy Street.
Introduced by Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, and state Sen. George Amedore Jr, R-46, Molinaro was greeted by a full room of people from all over the Twin Counties and the surrounding area.
In his introductory remarks, Tague spoke of the confidence he had in Molinaro to lead the state to a more successful future. Tague also took shots at Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the current administration, stating that Cuomo “is the most corrupt governor in the United States.” Tague also stated that Molinaro is within striking distance of Cuomo, referring to a poll conducted by the New York State Reform Party. That poll had Cuomo with 46 percent of the votes, Molinaro with 43 percent, and undecided voters at 11 percent.
Amedore also spoke highly of Molinaro.
“We know how difficult it is to live and work in this state,” Amedore said.
He praised Molinaro’s legislative and executive experience.
“We cannot afford Cuomo for another four years,” Amedore added.
Then Molinaro took to the front of town hall with a large round of applause from the crowd. He started off by thanking them for attending the event and showing their support.
“This is the 13th or 14th town hall meeting we have hosted,” Molinaro said, “You can’t represent the people if you don’t know them.”
Molinaro spoke about his background, family history and resume. He started his political career serving on the village of Tivioli board of trustees in 1994, he said. He was 18 at the time. In 1995, Molinaro served as Tivoli’s mayor, and he was the youngest mayor at the time.
Molinaro was elected mayor five times, and he was elected four times to the Dutchess County legislature. He also represented the 103rd district in the New York State Assembly in 2006, and served six years as an assemblyman. In 2011, Molinaro was elected county executive.
He highlighted the work he did for Dutchess County, including having the second highest bond rating in the state.
Toward the end of his presentation Molinaro took questions from the audience, which ranged from Article 10 to fracking to the Common Core curriculum, and locally about the possible construction of the Greene County jail.
“I was very impressed,” Joe Maratioti, of Coxsackie, said. Maratioti asked the question concerning Article 10, “It seems like he is very eduacated on the subjects.”
One guest at the town hall was teary eyed leaving the facility.
“I feel like he is the first candidate who cares about special needs,” Danielle Hotaling, of Catskill, said. She was wiping tears from her face, citing the challenges of having a child with special needs.
Molinaro talked about the state’s education system for some time. He said the overall goal is to make New York’s educational system equal for all who attend, including those with special needs. Molinaro’s eldest child is on the autism spectrum, he said.
“He lives it. Hopefully he will fight for it,” Hotaling said.
Molinaro and his wife, Corrine, have three children. Their eldest daughter is on the autism spectrum. He also coaches his 9-year-old son’s soccer team. Molinaro and his wife are expecting a fourth child this November. They reside in Red Hook.
Molinaro also talked specifically about Greene County,
“Greene is a lot like most of upstate New York, who want a government who respects the people.” Molinaro said, when asked about his day in Greene County overall. “I am thrilled to be here.”