Showdown in the 20th

Two local politicians go head-to-head to claim the 20th Congressional District seat. Plus: local races

(page 5 of 8)

Sandy Treadwell

It’s been a while since you’ve held elected office. Why did you decide to get back into the political game?
Treadwell: Washington is broken; Congress is broken. Far too many members of Congress are focused on their reelection rather than solving the problems of the country. I will serve not as a partisan, but as someone who will represent the 650,000 people of the district, and I will do what’s right for the people of this district. When I was secretary of state, I worked with local government leaders and community activists and helped them acheive their vision for their communities. That has been good preparation for the job that I now seek.

You were born in London, correct?
Yes. My father served in the British army for 25 years. He was a British citizen. My mother grew up in Albany. She went over to England as a Red Cross volunteer in the late ’30s. They met, and after the war I was born in ’46, and the family came here. We lived in New York City where my father worked, but also on my mother’s father’s farm in Essex County, which we still have.

So how old were you when you came over to America?
Six months old — no British accent. [I went into] public service because I really lucked out with my parents, and I heard about how important public service was from them at a very young age.
When I was 17, Martin Luther King came to my school. It was in 1963, a couple of months after the “I Have a Dream” speech. His message to us was you should give yourself first to your family, and if you can you should spend time helping out your community. I remember him saying that it could be a town, it could be a county, or it could be a larger community. His message was our lives would be enriched if we spent time helping other people. He was the greatest man I’ll ever meet, and I get chills when I think about it. I’ve thought about him a lot in the last year and a half.

I know you were just six months old, but having been born in another country, does it give you a different sort of perspective on what it means to be an American?
Yeah, it does. My father was always a British citizen, but he absolutely loved the United States. Certainly, having a connection through him to England means quite a bit to me. When I was a journalist, I spent a year [1986] traveling around the world — I did a book called The World of Marathons, about 26 marathon races around the world. That experience of traveling the world gave me a sense of this globe and the people in it. I really saw the diversity of the human race. It was a very rewarding, remarkable experience, that one year of my life.

So are you an avid runner yourself?
I was — I’ve run five marathons. I’m pretty proud of my best time — about 3 hours and 39 minutes — but that’s a while back. The marathon means a lot to me because it was a goal I had — I really needed to get off cigarettes, so running helped me do that. In 1980, I watched the people finishing the New York City Marathon. These would be the back-of-the-pack kind of people, and I was inspired by that, ordinary people doing an extraordinary physical accomplishment. So I made myself a goal: that by the following year, I was going to finish the New York City Marathon. The next day I huffed and puffed my way around the reservoir, barely made it, but then began running. The next year I did finish the New York City Marathon.
I was a sportswriter. I worked at Sports Illustrated as a reporter. I met my wife there; she was also a reporter.

What sort of sports did you write about?
College football and basketball. My wife was a pro football reporter; we shared an office. We still love sports, although we root for different teams.

What teams do you root for?
The New York Giants and the Yankees and the Knicks. She grew up in Chicago, so she’s a major Cubs fan. She’s very hopeful this could be the year, 100 years later. That would be great, actually. And she’s a great Green Bay Packers fan, and has been forever.

Do you guys ever get into any arguments about sports?
(Laughs.) Well, I promised her that if the Packers ever made it back to the Super Bowl that we would go. And we did [in 1997]. We don’t argue — actually, because of my campaigning schedule, I was not at home for the Giants-Packers championship game this year, which was probably a good thing.
I love sports, and I really enjoyed my time [as a sportswriter], but I didn’t want to interview 20-year-olds my whole life. The sportswriters age, but the athletes don’t.
I know you live up in Lake Placid...
The year I stopped being state chairman, we bought a house in Lake Placid. The plan was to spend the winter in Lake Placid and the summer on our farm in Westport. So we have a house in Lake Placid and that’s our residence.


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