2009-01-28 / Editorials

Congratulations And Good Luck, Senator Gillibrand

At noon last Friday, Governor David Paterson announced that he had appointed a congressmember from an upstate district as the junior United States Senator from New York. Kirsten Elizabeth Rutnik Gillibrand, a 42-year-old lawyer representing the 20th Congressional District, with district offices in Hudson and Glens Falls, succeeds Hillary Clinton, who on Thursday, January 22 was sworn in as and assumed the duties of Secretary of State.

Gillibrand grew up in a political household. Polly Noonan, her grandmother, founded the Albany Democratic Women's Club and Doug Rutnik, her father, is a lobbyist in Albany. She went to Congress in 2007 after winning a tough race against Republican John Sweeney, making her the first Democrat to represent the 20th District since Edward W. Pattison left office in 1979; she was also the first woman to hold the seat. U.S. Senator Hillary and former President Bill Clinton backed her in her campaign for re-election this past fall.

While her background is solidly Democratic, Gillibrand is acquainted with the views and stances of the Republican Party. After her graduation from law school at UCLA, Gillibrand served as a law clerk for U.S. Court of Appeals Justice Roger Miner during the 1992-93 term. Miner, a conservative who had been appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan, backed her in her 2006 race against Sweeney. Miner was the second Republican for whom she worked; she spent one summer in the office of Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato while attending Dartmouth College as an Asian studies major. Between stints as a lawyer in corporate firms, she gained public service experience as a special counsel to Andrew Cuomo during his time in the Cabinet of President Bill Clinton as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

With her husband, Jonathan Gillibrand she has two young sons, Theo and Henry. The family lives in Hudson; her hobbies include tennis, along with squash, skiing, running and reading biographies. She seems adept at balancing family and public life.

As an elected representative to a legislative body, Gillibrand is familiar with the need to understand all sides of an issue before casting a vote. Her voting record indicates she will make decisions based on the facts of the issues, rather than emotion and popular sentiment and she would seem to be able to move from voting for her district alone to voting to benefit the large, populous and diverse state of New York.

Cuomo, now New York state attorney general, noted that when Gillibrand served with him at HUD, "she did a superb job serving the nation". We are sure that she will do an equally superb job serving the citizens of New York as well as the country at large and we wish her all possible success. For our part, we pledge that we will do all we can to support her as she undertakes her new duties. A new era is dawning for us all and we here will do our part to help our new Senator bring about positive changes for the city and state of New York.

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