PETER'S NEW YORK, Saturday, April 25, 2009--New York Governor David A. Paterson today painted a grim picture of his state's economy, noting that unemployment was on the rise, government budgets were strained, and people were going hungry.
"We are in crisis," Paterson said in an address in front of the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, New York, as he greeted the state's newest U.S. Representative-elect, Scott Murphy, who Friday announced his victory over Republican State Assemblyman Jim Tedisco in the 20th District. Paterson was in Murphy's city of residence to celebrate with other Democrats the 39-year-old venture capitalist's recount tally, consisting of a lead of 399 votes out of over 160,000 cast.
But Paterson said there was no time to linger over the euphoria of victory.
"Our economy is teetering," he said, adding that the present economic downturn is "bordering on a depression."
Widespread unemployment, failing state budgets, and "children going without food and shelter," said Paterson, were some of the challenges the country was facing.
Paterson recognized Murphy's accomplishments in economic development in Glens Falls, and said he hoped Murphy, as a member of New York's congressional delegation, would be able to help turn the economy around.
Perhaps as much of interest to New Yorkers as the state of the economy were Paterson's remarks concerning his reasons for selecting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to serve out the remainder of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Senate term. Gillibrand, who was barely into her second term as U.S. representative for the 20th District, was appointed to the Senate seat over other high-profile contenders, including Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, thus creating the need for a special election to fill the vacancy. The election was too close to call until Friday, when it became clear that the marjoity of votes had been cast for Murphy.
Paterson defended his choice for the Senate seat, saying that, although several downstate politicians had positioned themselves to be appointed, he picked Gillibrand for the spot because she was from an upstate, rural district.
"I thought it was time to have equal representation by geography around this state," he told the crowd that had gathered in front of the library, many decked out with "Scott Murphy for Congress" buttons and banners. Choosing Gillibrand, he said, demonstrated that "New York is really one state, no matter where you live."
When Murphy himself took the podium, he focused his remarks on the economy.
"Not only can we, but we will get this economy going," he said.
He pointed to the revival of downtown Glens Falls, and the library in particular, which had recently undergone extensive renovations, as models for economic development. Much of Glens Falls' success, he said, could be attributed to the public and private sector investing in projects throughout the city.
"We can take this community forward," he said.
Among the officials there to greet Murphy was Rep. Paul Tonko, who helped Murphy with his campaign. Tonko said he was happy to "celebrate a new voice on the house floor," and hoped Murphy would help move the country into a green economy that was "energy secure."