Tired Of Getting ‘Lip Service’ From Elected Officials In Albany, NYSUT Teacher Elaine Altman Takes Aim On Winning The State Senate’s 61st District Seat
In An Area That’s Nearly Split Between Registered Democrats & Republicans, Latest Poll Shows Altman Within Striking Distance of Incumbent Republican Michal Razenhoffer – Who Altman Says Has Been “Non-Existent” In The District He Represents
(AMHERST) – Elaine Altman Became Increasingly Frustrated During Her Many Trips to Albany to Lobby Western New York’s Elected State Officials Over the Years as a Representative of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Union, Including Meeting With Her Representative - Republican State Senator Michael Razenhoffer - Who “Rubbed Her Raw” With the “Lip Service” He Provided and Making Thoughtless Comments That He Understood, Because His Mother Was a Teacher.
In Fact, the 64-Year-Old Mother of Three Grown and Adult Sons Actually May Have Razenhoffer Himself to Thank for Getting Involved in the Political Process to Bring About Change When She Decided Earlier This Year to Run on the Democratic Line for State Senate.
“I Talked to My Opponent Often (During Lobbying Trips to Albany) and All We Got Was ‘Lip Service,’ Which ‘Rubbed Me Raw,’” Altman (Pictured Above/WNYLaborToday.com Photos) Told WNYLaborToday.com During an Interview at Amherst Democratic Headquarters Earlier This Week. He’s (Razenhoffer, Who Heads the State Senate’s Education Committee) Been a Legislator During All the Massive Cuts (the State Has) Made to Education and the ‘Best’ He Could say Was That He ‘Understood’ and That His ‘My Mother Was a Teacher.’”
Altman’s Been a Teacher for 24 Years, is Director of the Staff Development in the Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District and Serves as a First Vice President of the Kenmore Teachers Association. She’s Lived in Clarence for the Past Seven Years. During That Time, Altman Told Your On-Line Labor Newspaper That Razenhoffer Has Been Virtually “Non-Existent” in the Area That He Serves and That Many Residents Whom She’s Spoken to say the Two-Term Incumbent is “Not an Initiator,” But a “Follower.”
Razenhoffer – Who Strangely is Currently Featured in a High-Profile TV Ad Touting the Benefits of His Law Firm’s Services Rather Than in Any Political Ad That Anyone Would Believe Should be Running at This Time With the November Election Just Weeks Away – May be Most Remembered for His Passionate and Long 45-Minute Speech on the Senate Floor for Yogurt to be Designated as the New York State’s Official Snack (Razenhoffer Was Lampooned by National Late Night Talk Show Hosts – Including David Letterman and Jon Stewart, Go to: http://observer.com/2014/05/daily-show-mercilessly-lampoons-state-senates-yogurt-debate/).
“Our Elective Officials are ‘Reflective’ of What’s Going On Right Now in Albany,” Altman said. “Yeah, You Can Tell Me You’re ‘Going to Lower My Taxes,’ But There Needs to be a Higher Level of Accountability. Their Comments Irritated Me, Especially When I’m Told ‘My Mother Was a Teacher.’ Even Though (Razenhoffer) Headed the Education Committee, There Was Clearly a ‘Huge Lack’ of Understanding (On the Issues Impacting Education). He’s Been a Legislator During All These Massive Cuts to Education and the Best he Could say Was, ‘My Mother Was a Teacher.’ Teachers are Always Digging in to Their Own Pockets (to Pay for Supplies and Necessities for Their Students) and it Was it Wasn’t a Priority to (Razenhoffer). So in May, I Thought, Why Not? (Run for State Office). I Thought, Why Leave it to Some Else?”
The Platform Altman’s Running On Includes Fair Taxation for All; Eliminating Corporate Tax Breaks That Do Not Result in the Creation of Jobs and Economic Grow; Passage of the Women's Equality Agenda; Ending Privatization of Public Education; Eliminating Excessive Testing of Students; and Creating and Maintaining a Living Wage for Workers.
Altman’s Been Endorsed by a Number of Area and State Labor Organizations, Including Her Own Union, as Well as the New York State AFL-CIO, the Local Bricklayers Union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Western New York Council, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the United Auto Workers (UAW), the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), Teamsters Local 449 and the Working Families Party. She’s Also Been Endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice New York and Empire State Pride Agenda.
Surprisingly, the 61st District is Nearly Split Between Registered Republicans and Democrats, With GOPers Enjoying a 7,500 to 7,000 Margin – With the Rest Being Made Up of Conservatives and Independents. However, the Latest Poll, According to Western New York AFL-CIO Area Labor Federation (WNYALF) President Richard Lipsitz, Showed Altman Just Six Points Behind Razenhoffer. “(Altman’s) Got the ‘Right Stuff’ and She’s a Pro-Worker Candidate. She’s Good On the Issues and She Would be an ‘Improvement’ Over Razenhoffer,” Lipsitz Told WNYLaborToday.com. “She Could Pull This Off. Yes, She’s Got a Shot. We’ll Work Hard for Her and We’ll See What Happens.”
While Altman is Yet Another Example of Local Union Leaders and Members Making a Decision to Run for Public Office, NYSUT Regional Director Mike Deely Jokingly Told WNYLaborToday.com That the Union “Tried to Talk Her Out of it.”
Kidding Aside, Deely said Altman is “One of Our Own.”
“She’s What We’re ‘All About,’” he said. “It’s Not Easy to Run (for Public Office) and This is a State Senate Race. She’s Gone Against Someone Who Can Raise ‘Big Money.’ She’s Depending On Those Who are Donating ($25 to $30 Each). She Got in Because She Didn’t Want to Take (the Lip Service) Anymore. She Has a Shot. It Boils Down to Getting Our People Out (to Vote). But, Who Better Than Us (Union Leaders and Members Running for Office) to Make the Decisions? After All, We’re the Ones Paying Taxes.”
As Part of the Labor For Altman Push - NYSUT, Along With Organized Labor, is Focusing On as Many as Nine Labor Walks for Altman, as Well as Enlisting the Help of More Than 30 Individuals Who Will Man Phone Banks in the Coming Weeks. NYSUT Also Donated Thousands of Yard Signs for the Altman Campaign.
Meanwhile, Altman says her Campaign Has Been “Uphill/Downhill,” But Relishes How “Awesome” it’s Been: “There are Some Pretty Hardcore Republicans Within the District That Tell Me: ‘No, I’m Republican… Don’t Talk to Me,’ But I’m Vested in This Community and I Choose to Have a ‘Voice’ (in What Happens). Razenhoffer is a Two-Term State Senator Who’s Best Known for Standing Up On the Floor of the Senate for Forty-Five Minutes and ‘Defending’ Yogurt as a School Snack. I Want to Ask Him, ‘Why Weren’t You There When it Came to School Funding?’ Onto Whose Backs Do You Think Those Cuts Went On? And, Whose Side are You On? He’s All Over the Place. How Many Times Can You Listen to Someone Who Tells You They’re Going to Lower Your Taxes? I Want to Know What are ‘You’ Doing About All of This? We Need a Heightened Level of Accountability.”
WNYLaborToday.com Editor’s Note: For More On Elaine Altman and Her Campaign for the 61st State Senate Seat, Go to: AltmanForSenate.com; www.facebook.com/pages/Altman-for-Senate/767943923246347; and twitter.com/AltmanforSenate.