CATSKILL — Greene County Legislator Aidan O’Connor, D-Durham, and local Democratic committees are gearing up fast for the special election for Assembly District 102 in April.
Several local Democratic committees, officials and voters showed their support for O’Connor, who was nominated to run last week, at the opening of his campaign headquarters Monday at 404-406 Main St.
The committees are acting quickly with the special election, which is 10 weeks away, to fill the Assembly seat left vacant by Pete Lopez.
Greene County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Doreen Davis said the committee filed all paperwork needed for O’Connor to run. The special election is scheduled for April 24.
“We only have 71 days until the election, so it’s a short runway,” O’Connor said Monday after giving a speech asking for support. “It is better this way, actually. We can focus on the grassroots effort. We are going to run this campaign the old-school way by meeting people and talking about the issues. That is the way it should always be done.”
O’Connor is running against Schoharie Town Supervisor Christopher Tague.
“I met [Tague] once at a Farm Bureau event, but I do not know a lot about him,” O’Connor said. “This election will be quick, but hopefully done with kindness and respect. That is how we are going to run our campaign, at least.”
The campaign started phone banking — a strategy to collect voter information and get people’s votes — Monday night out of the office, O’Connor said.
The 29-year-old county lawmaker promised to address the lack of internet access in the Twin Counties and the opioid epidemic that plagues communities statewide, saying that becoming a member of the majority of the Assembly will help put this area in front for the help it needs on these issues.
“Tourism and health care are the biggest industries in this area and all you have to do is talk to business owners — no one is saying it is going great,” O’Connor said. “We are facing a $4 billion deficit. I have voted against tax increases in the past. We cannot put the burden on [taxpayers]. It is a challenge and I will work day in and day out to solve it. I will vote for a budget that does not burden [taxpayers] and maintains services.
“As a member of the majority I can act,” O’Connor added. “I can act and get wins for the district for the first time in a long, long, long time.”
Other local Democratic Committee chairmen were also in attendance, including Columbia County Democratic Committee Chairman Keith Kanaga, who is also working on finding a candidate to run for Assembly District 107 in April.
District 107 was previously held by Steve McLaughlin, who left the position after his election as Rensselaer County Executive in November. Kanaga said last week two people from Columbia County applied for the Democratic nomination, but no final decision has been made.
Brian Flynn, of Hunter, and Gareth Rhodes, of Kerhonkson, who both are campaigning for the Democratic nomination to run against U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, in November also attended the opening to support O’Connor.
“O’Connor has an extraordinary record at the county level,” Rhodes said. “I agree with his approach to keep young people in the area and to deal with the opioid epidemic. I am going to do whatever I have to to help him win. I will knock on doors, make phone calls and pass his literature out at my campaign events. We need someone young and from the community, who grew up in the community, in District 102.”
Flynn, a businessman from Hunter, met O’Connor a few years ago and was impressed with the young county lawmaker.
“[O’Connor] held a bipartisan town planning meeting once — he is someone who can get things done,” Flynn said. “He can work across the aisle and that is what we need to start doing.”