Election 2010: Voters Choice
Read what two local Congressional candidates have to say about the issues — and preview three state races that will have an impact on the Valley
(page 3 of 6)
Sparring partners: Rep. Maurice Hinchey and his Republican challenger, George Phillips (below, right)
A Chat with Rep. Maurice Hinchey
Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat from Hurley, has represented New York’s 22nd Congressional district — which includes Ulster and small portions of Orange and Dutchess counties — since 1992. He is seeking a 10th term in November.
Hudson Valley: First thing’s first: After you’ve spent a long week in Washington and you come home to your district, where do you go to grab a bite to eat?
Maurice Hinchey: I get it wherever I can. (Laughs.) When I have time, there are a number of nice little restaurants around here where I like to pop in, but I don’t get a chance to do it very often. You do the best you can. A lot of work these days.
Do you have any favorite spots or parks here in the Valley?
I love the Hudson Valley, and I am dedicated and devoted to the Hudson River Valley. It’s one of the most wonderful places in this country.
I have done a number of things to try to draw attention to the Hudson Valley, and I’ve been doing it for years, starting when I was a member of the State Assembly. The Hudson River Greenway was established, which was designed to get the communities along the Hudson to focus more attention on the river and on each other. When I went down to Washington, I was able to establish the Hudson River Valley as a National Heritage Area. Every time I come back up from Washington, D.C., I see that big sign there for the National Heritage Area. This is an issue I got established back in the late ’90s.
You authored a bill, ultimately passed by the House, that would commission a study about whether to make the Hudson Valley a unit of the National Park Service system. Why are you a proponent of such a designation, and what would it mean for Hudson Valley residents?
It wouldn’t mean there would be any federal purchasing and ownership of the area. The main purpose of this objective is to draw national attention to the history of the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley. There would be a lot of attention that would be paid by the federal government through the Environmental Protection Agency. It would put a good focus on places that are national areas, like Washington Headquarters in Newburgh, where Washington spent most of his time in the context of the revolutionary operation. He did so because of the importance of the Hudson River and to maintain the freedom of the Hudson River.
That would be one of the things that would generate economic growth. It would bring in people from around the country and even out of the country.
You grew up in Saugerties and have represented various parts of the Valley for 40 years. In that time, jobs have shifted from manufacturing and agriculture to other sectors. How does the economic outlook for the region now compare to 40 years ago?
When I graduated from high school in Saugerties, I enlisted in the Navy. I spent several years in the Navy, most of it on a destroyer in the western Pacific. When I came back, I went to work for one of those manufacturing plants, a cement plant just north of Saugerties. I spent two years there. So I’ve always been very deeply interested in the situation here.
We had a tragedy take place in 1995, when IBM left the operation just north of Kingston. What I have done is to restimulate that whole area, now called Tech City. In 2007, I initiated a not-for-profit corporation called the Solar Energy Consortium, known as TSEC. We’ve been able to generate a substantial number of jobs, and Tech City, the former IBM plant, is now back alive. It used to be virtually empty.