Senate candidates square off at business breakfast

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Rolison speaking to Chamber members with Union Vale Supervisor Betsy Maas looking on.

POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor Rob Rolison and his Democratic opponent for the State Senate’s 39th District, Julie Shiroishi, had a brief debate at the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday morning.

Rolison, a Republican who has been the mayor of Poughkeepsie since 2016, told the audience that “The one-party rule in Albany isn’t working,” when it comes to regulating business, creating energy policies, and keeping the public safe.  Prior to becoming mayor, the lifelong Poughkeepsie resident served on the Dutchess County Legislature for 12 years, including a tenure as the body’s chairman.

Julie Shiroishi speaking to members of the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Shiroishi, a Beacon resident since 2007, had a career in newspaper and book publishing until transitioning to a freelance writer to spend more time with her young children.

In 2019 she became the Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson.  Shiroishi stayed with Jacobson until May of this year when she decided to make her first run for public office.  “It was a tremendous opportunity to have worked in state government,” Shiroishi said.  “I’ve had the opportunity to see how state government works and I have had the opportunity to help constituents.”

Rolison blamed state policies for the rise in crime across New York.  The mayor intimated that changing the laws would help reduce crime and giving businesses a chance to thrive in a safe environment.  “There is a crime problem in this state,” he said, adding “bail reform has limited the capabilities of police officers to do their jobs of keeping the public safe.”

Shiroishi called on the need for changes in public education.  The need, according to Shiroishi, is for middle-school students to be presented with opportunities and training that make them ready to enter the regional workforce when they graduate high school.  “Too many people are graduating from college with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt,” she said, noting that many jobs in the region do not require college degrees and still pay good wages.

The new 39th senate district includes the Dutchess County municipalities of Beacon, Beekman, East Fishkill, Fishkill, LaGrange, Pawling, City of Poughkeepsie, Town of Poughkeepsie, Union Vale, and Wappinger.  In Putnam County, the district includes Philipstown and Putnam Valley.  In Orange County, the Towns of Montgomery and Newburgh along with the City of Newburgh are in the 39th senate district.