Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk Wins Upset in Gerrymandered District

Scheming to game last year’s election to keep their majority, the state Senate Republicans cut a deal with Governor Andrew Cuomo to let them draw highly partisan district lines. One part of this deal was bending the state constitution to create a new 63rd seat.

That district, containing rural areas west of Albany and stretching down the west side of the Hudson River, was crafted for Assemblymember George Amedore. Amedore, a real-estate developer and landlord, opposes abortion even when necessary to save the mother’s life, and is an enthusiastic booster of hydrofracking.

He was challenged by Cecilia Tkaczyk, a sheep farmer from Duanesburg with a long background in housing activism. She is former executive director of the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition of New York State, and was also a board member of the New York State Tenants & Neighbors Coalition. In 2009-10, she was a housing policy analyst in the State Senate, where she played a key role in developing the 2009 Mortgage Foreclosure Law to assist homeowners and tenants dealing with the foreclosure crisis, and the 2010 Loft Law, which extended protections to lofts not covered by the 1982 Loft Law.

Tkaczyk embraced campaign-finance reform as a core issue, and found that it resonated with district residents. When the polls closed on Nov. 6, she was ahead by 139 votes. After more than two months of litigation, during which Amedore’s lawyers challenged hundreds of provisional and absentee ballots from Democratic areas, Tkaczyk won by 18 votes. Tenants PAC donated $6,000 to her campaign.