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Incumbents hold on, newcomers advance after Tuesday's Democratic primaries

New York State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (WAMC file photo)
Lucas Willard
New York State Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (WAMC file photo)

Two Hudson Valley state Assemblymembers held onto their ballot line Tuesday, and some newcomers are advancing to the November contest.

First-term Democratic Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha will advance to the general election after turning away a challenge from Gabi Madden. According to unofficial returns, Shrestha took two-thirds of the vote in the 103rd district, which includes parts of Ulster and Dutchess Counties.

Shrestha said the election shows the area wants a progressive representative.

“They want to make things winnable in a state where we have a Democratic supermajority, we don't want to settle for crumbs. We really want to push the whole state forward,” said Shrestha.

Shrestha will face Republican Jack Hayes in November. The first-term lawmaker says she wants to continue to work to pass legislation to reduce plastic packaging, approve medical aid in dying, and create green social housing. Shrestha is also co-leading an effort to create a public authority to replace utility Central Hudson.

In the neighboring 106th Assembly District, which includes parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties, longtime Democratic incumbent Didi Barrett won by a 15-point margin. She defeated progressive Working Families Party-endorsed challenger Claire Cousin, a Columbia County Supervisor.

Barrett said across a district with 26 municipalities, her willingness to listen to voters and small business owners sets her apart.

“I am really about bringing our communities together rather than the divisiveness that we're just seeing way too often right now in the political arena,” said Barrett.

Barrett says she will continue to work to address housing affordability, support the environment, and assist farmers with workforce needs.

In a statement, Cousin congratulated Barrett and credited the primary with raising issues that pushed Barrett to cosponsor legislation in Albany for housing vouchers, elder parole, and the Climate Change Superfund Act, a bill passed earlier this month that awaits Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature. “We did that” said Cousin.

Barrett will face Republican candidate Stephen Krakower in November.

In 107th District, which includes parts Albany, Columbia, Rensselaer and Washington Counties, Working Families Party-endorsed Democrat Chloe Pierce defeated fellow newcomer Kent Sopris to challenge first-term Republican Scott Bendett.

Pierce says her campaign brought her to all four counties, which helped connect her with voters across the district over issues like affordability.

“The fact that I am a younger woman, I think, was a benefit, too, and especially with reproductive freedoms on the line and, thankfully we have the [Equal Rights Amendment] back on the ballot, but seeing what happens at the federal level, I think people were really excited and energized to see a younger female Democratic candidate running to represent them,” said Pierce.

The Democratic primary contest in the 102nd District does not have a clear winner, with only 85 votes separating candidates Janet Tweed and Mary Finneran, according to unofficial returns. The 102nd District includes Schoharie and Greene Counties, and parts of Albany, Delaware, Otsego, and Ulster Counties. The Assembly seat is currently occupied by Republican Chris Tague.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.