Update (August 1, 2007): Republican George Amedore Jr. defeated Edward Kosiur by 2800 votes yesterday, receiving 56% of the votes cast. As the Albany Times Union reported, the victory “ends at least two dozen years of Democratic dominance over the Assembly seat representing Montgomery and Schenectady counties.” The unusually large turnout for a special election — 31 % of registered voters — can surely be attributed to the anger over Kosiur’s ill-conceived Sex Offender Residency law. Amedore outpolled Kosiur by over 1000 votes in each county. See “It’s Assemblyman Amedore: ‘Extreme Makeover’ builder offers message of change in GOP win , Albany Times Union (Aug. 1, 2007); “Amedore Wins 105th: Republican newcomer pulls upset over Kosiur by more than 2,800 votes,” Schenectady Daily Gazette, (Aug. 1, 2007). Video is available at the FoxNews23 website. Let’s hope the upset helps our County’s misguided Democrat Party leaders to rethink and rescind the sex offender residency restrictions and leave the issue to the State. update (Aug. 3, 2007): Albany Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun gives his take on the election, and concludes that “The 500-pound gorilla on Ed Kosiur’s back is a nuclear piece of legislation he sponsored and extensively promoted that passed the County Legislature on June 12. It concerns the potential redistribution of sexual predators in the county. . . . Passing that law when they did was about as dumb a political act as the Democrats could have concocted, not to mention that the law is dumb to begin with.”
Tomorrow I will cast my first true single-issue vote, in the special election for the New York State 105th Assembly District, which covers most of Schenectady County, about half of the City of Schenectady, and all of Montgomery County (which includes Amsterdam). The candidates are homebuilder and political-newcomer Republican George Amedore and Democrat Edward Kosiur, who is currently a member of the Schenectady County Legislature, and has been endorsed by the NY Working Families Party. As the Mohawk Valley’s Upstream weblog points out today, Kosiur and Amedore are both members of a local pentecostal, evangelical Assembly of God church; surprisingly, for 2007, neither has a college degree. (You can find press coverage and public commentary on the election at this community bulletin board.)
Daily Gazette Columnist Carl Strock has correctly concluded that the election will have little direct effect on local representation or statewide politics in the Assembly, as Democrats control 108 of the 150 Assembly seats. (Nonetheless, the Albany Times Union tells us that “No expense is spared in 105th district race: Both parties pump in cash to win Tuesday’s election.”) The lack of partisan significance makes it even easier for me to Vote My Conscience in this election and to Send a Signal to local and state politicians: Draconian, poorly-structured laws that react to and fan the public’s fear of sex offenders are bad politics, as well as bad policy.
Despite the apparently small stakes involved, there is far more interest than would normally be expected for a special Assembly election. The reason can be easily traced: it’s the Sex Offender Residency Restriction law passed on June 12, 2007, by the Schenectady County Legislature, which was proudly sponsored by Ed Kosiur, and prominently touted in his campaign ads and materials as the “toughest sex predator law in New York State”. “Sex Crimes law key issue in race” (Daily Gazette, July 26, 2007).
The restrictions effectively ban sex offenders from living in the city of Schenectady and two major suburbs, and are therefor likely to cause relocation and future location of sex offender residences in more rural parts of Schenectady County and into Montgomery County. Town Supervisors and families living in the permitted residential areas are a bit upset. (see, e.g., the Resolution of the Town of Duanesburg; and “Towns Push Back on Sex Offender Laws,” Daily Gazette, July 13, 2007)
I discussed the law and my reasons for opposing it at length in our June 13th post “Schenectady’s PanderPols Vote to Evict Sex Offenders.” It bars even the lowest-risk sex offenders from living within 2000 feet of schools, parks and playgrounds, or day care centers, forcing those currently within the proscribed areas to move out by Oct. 1st, and move again should such a facility be placed within 2000 feet of their residence. There is absolutely no reason to believe the law will make any child safer, and much research that suggests the restrictions may make things worse. Even the County legislature’s own attorney and the County attorney have privately stated that the eviction requirement is unconstitutional, and the law is likely to be held to be preempted by State residency restrictions on sex offenders.
Amedore has concluded that patchwork local laws that merely shuffle residences are not the solution; and has instead proposed “protecting children in every community” with statewide laws that would increase sentences, permit better tracking, and restrict the number of offenders who may live in any one area. See “Laws for Sex abusers still debated,” Daily Gazette, July 28, 2007; “Amedore unveils sex offender plan,” CapitalNews9, July 27, 2007; and TU Local Politics Blog). This approach makes far more sense than Kosiur’s banishment policy.
[Ed Kosiur, CapitalNews9] There is little doubt that the poorly-drafted SORR laws were rushed out of the County Legislature last month in order to launch Kosiur’s candidacy for the open Assembly seat. Now that he has discovered that his plan is not universally appreciated (and has opposition from more than just those with bleeding-hearts and ACLU-leanings), Kosiur tells the Daily Gazette that “the bottom line is I am the candidate with the proven record of advancing legislation that is tough on these predators and have not ever been afraid to vocalize my beliefs even when it has not been politically advantageous.”
A lifelong Democrat, my brain and conscience often affect my vote. My opposition to Ed Kosiur is not due to his exaggerated claims of job creation, nor his having voted to raise City property taxes (which can often be far more responsible than the Mr. Amedore’s silly pledge to never raise taxes). Indeed, I’m pleased that he would support a gay marriage law, despite his personal opposition to gay marriage (while, according to the Times Union, Mr. Amedore would vote his faith and oppose such a law). Nor am I particularly moved by gadfly Pat Zollinger’s psycho-analysis of the candidate. Tomorrow, I will vote against Ed Kosiur because of his sponsorship of Schenectady’s SORR — to make it clear that politics that pander to hate and that ostracize and stigmatize unpopular groups are not acceptable. I hope his defeat will send an important message to other politicians in Schenectady County and across the State
Go to StopKosiursLaw.com to see an unofficial map that depicts the forbidden residency zones (the County hasn’t released one yet despite the looming Oct. 1 eviction date), and for the Gazette‘s cartoon showing PanderPol Ed scaring a child.
p.s. For a much-needed change of pace, here are a few poems by three poets who always get our vote, from the newest issue of Bottle Rockets (#17, Vol. 9 no. 1)
the dark night fills
with white noise
the first word
………………………………. by Carolyn Hall
garden party —
with no regard for who’s who
feeder freshly filled
the sparrows and finches
just tail feathers
………………………………………. by George Swede
god’s house of healing ………….. by Ed Markowski
chains & padlocks . . .
a crucifix appears
in the liquor store window
in its off white light
the deal goes down
the preacher pauses
’til the sirens fade
no one has
a hat to pass
its pulsing light illuminates
the all night girls
in the window
where the choir swayed
two shiny trumpets
an antique mannequin
graces the display window
………….. by Ed Markowski ..