Kenan Baldridge from Wayne County talked about why he is running and where he stands
CANANDAIGUA — Kenan Baldridge was in town Tuesday between rounds across the district in his campaign for the 54th state Senate district.
With the heated Republican primary over, it’s clear Canandaigua Town Supervisor Pam Helming will be Baldridge’s main rival in the Nov. 8 election to replace the seat long held by state Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette. Baldridge, a Democrat in a predominantly Republican district, said he is not deterred. The Rose town supervisor is typically in the minority party-wise in his home Wayne County, and in his campaigning throughout the district he said he doesn’t waver from his core beliefs though they run counter to many Republican platforms.
For example, at a recent meeting of S.C.O.P.E., a state gun-rights organization that stands for Shooters Committee on Political Education, Baldridge said he was the only one talking about not repealing the NY-SAFE Act, the controversial New York state gun regulation law. He sees room for improvement — ”I would amend the SAFE Act,” he said — but he would not vote to repeal it. He talked from personal experience as a first responder, going into situations that he believes would have resulted in much worse injuries, or death, had a gun been involved.
Baldridge has been an active firefighter for more than 40 years with the North Rose Fire Department. A former paramedic, Baldridge has been a first aid captain, president and CEO with Walters Ambulance in Clifton Springs; and a training coordinator for Empire Nine Regional EMS service in Rochester.
At another gathering, with farmers, Baldridge said he expressed his support for allowing farm workers to unionize — not a popular stand with most farmers. Kenan again talked about his experience with farm-related accidents, the need for “a day of rest” for safety reasons and what he believes is the need for all workers to have someone watching out for them. Allowing workers to unionize doesn’t mean they all will, he said. He doesn’t think farmers need to fear such an allowance for workers — farmers and workers “work it out,” he said.
He also talked about the environment during a conversation Tuesday at Cheshire Farms Creamery in Canandaigua. He opposes a plan to store gas in old salt caverns near the headwaters of Seneca Lake and champions the Zero Waste initiative to eliminate landfills. In a recent letter to the editor about landfills, he wrote: "The 54th Senate District is the dumping ground for New York State trash, especially that from New York City. Why? Are we an easy mark? Or were we just looking the other way when someone dangled money in front of our elected officials?”
Baldridge has experience in waste reduction as a former independent management consultant for organizations in North America and the United Kingdom. Working with what he classified as “underperforming operations,” he said at least one case involved multi-million waste reduction efforts that returned a client to financial stability. Baldridge was a consultant for 11 years until 2011.
Economic development, education and ethics reform are top priorities Baldridge wants to address early in office, the Democrat said. He backs investment in infrastructure to bring in businesses, creating a tax climate that helps businesses stay, and blocking efforts — such as landfill expansions and gas storage by out-of-state corporations — that undermine businesses critical to the region.
On education, he wants to make sure rural and high-need school districts get their fair share of funding and end unfunded mandates that don’t work to improve education.
On ethics, Baldridge said he wants to tighten the rules on outside income and corporate donations to legislators. He supports term limits and backs measures to end corruption in state politics and increase transparency and accountability for all those officials, agencies and authorities that spend tax dollars. Baldridge has been on the Board of Education for the North-Rose Wolcott district, was its president, and was president for the Four County School Boards Association in Dundee.
Baldridge hopes to face Helming in a series of debates in which he would also welcome Reform candidate Floyd Rayburn. He said he gives Rayburn a lot of credit for going up against Helming, who has the backing and dollars of the state Republicans. Rayburn lost by a narrow margin to Helming for the GOP spot and will appear on the Reform Party line. Helming will also appear on the Conservative and Independence lines.
Baldridge submitted petitions to run on both the Democratic and Working Families lines. But a petition challenge by local Republicans that bumped Democrat Charles Evangelista and Republicans Bobby Massarini and Joe Geiger off the primary ballot also bumped Baldridge from Working Families.
The Rose supervisor said he is ready for Albany.
After decades in various aspects of work and community service, “I have always been committed to the local community,” he said. “Real policy decisions are made in Albany. This is where I need to be.”