Darrel Aubertine

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Darrel Aubertine
Member of the New York Senate
from the 48th district
In office
February 2008 – December 2010
Preceded by James W. Wright
Succeeded by Patricia A. Ritchie
Member of the New York State Assembly
from the 118th district
In office
2003–2008
Preceded by William Sanford
Succeeded by Addie Jenne Russell
Personal details
Born (1953-06-03) June 3, 1953 (age 61)[1]
Cape Vincent, New York[1]
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Margaret[1]
Children three[1]
Profession farmer, politician
Website Official website

Darrel J. Aubertine (born June 3, 1953)[1] was a member of the New York State Senate for the 48th district, which covers Central New York and the North Country region counties of Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence in New York State. He is a registered Democrat and represented the district in the state Senate from February 2008 to December 2010. He was chairman of the Senate's Agriculture Committee and Ranking Majority Member of the Senate Energy Committee, as well as the bicameral/bipartisan Legislative Commission on Rural Resources and the Senate's Upstate Democratic Caucus.

Aubertine currently serves as the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Early life[edit]

Aubertine was born in Cape Vincent, New York. He and his wife Margaret were married in 1977. They have three children: Erin, Paul, and Timothy.[1]

Political career[edit]

On February 26, 2008 he won an upset victory in the predominantly Republican 48th district of the New York State Senate. Prior to serving in the state senate he served on the Cape Vincent town council from 1994 to 1996. In 1996 he was elected to the Jefferson County legislature where he served until 2002 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly representing the 118th district. He was the only farmer serving in the New York state Legislature and the only Democrat in the state Senate that represents exclusively rural areas; he was one of five Democrats in the Senate to represent a region of Upstate New York.

He defeated Republican William Barclay, partially because Barclay's family profited from their privately owned stretch of the Salmon River, by charging local fishermen and anglers $30 for access, which had previously been free.[2] Aubertine carries significant crossover appeal among Republicans and Independents enabling him to win election in the most Republican district in the State Senate.[3]

Aubertine was endorsed by the Working Families Party as well, and received help from the Working Families Party canvass staff, which paid college students and others from the area, bringing in select staff from other parts of New York State to work Get Out The Vote operations throughout the district, a practice they would repeat in the November election. The Senator declined the Working Families Party's assistance and ballot line for the 2010 election.

Soon after being elected in February, he was successful in securing $250 million for improvements at State University of New York campuses in Oswego and Canton.[4] He worked to secure large increases in school aid and $10 million in infrastructure aid for the areas surrounding Fort Drum. He also brought in $390,000 in member items for projects in the three counties he represents.[5]

In the November campaign, the Senator was criticized for hiring his sister to his staff in violation of State ethics law, though he corrected the problem when notified of the conflict after just a few weeks on the job and later paid back the money she received. Partisan dysfunction in the Senate became an issue after bills he sponsored passed in the Assembly but did not come to a vote on the Senate floor as opponents claimed he did not file the proper paperwork. The bills were, however, delivered to the Senate Rules Committee then-led by the Republican Majority Leader, who chose not to move them.

On June 22, 2008, the Watertown Daily Times cited unnamed sources to say that Gov. David Paterson's office offered Aubertine a job to head the New York Power Authority, and later that day the Senator confirmed that he had declined the offer. Two days later the governor said the senator misunderstood, though more sources told the Times Union in Albany that the senator's version was accurate.[6][7]

Aubertine succeeded James W. Wright, who resigned after eight terms to become an energy lobbyist. Prior to serving in the State Senate, Aubertine was a member of the New York State Assembly from the 118th district from 2003 to 2008. The owner and operator of his farm in Cape Vincent, Aubertine gave up milking cows when he joined the Assembly, but remains and active crop and livestock farmer. He was named chairman of the Senate's Agriculture Committee on January 7, 2009, replacing Republican Catharine Young, when Democrats retook the chamber. Aubertine was an anomaly in that he was a man chairing a committee traditionally led by women (Young, Patricia McGee, and Nancy Larraine Hoffman before and Patty Ritchie after).

Aubertine's first victory brought the New York State Democrats within one vote of controlling the New York State Senate, and, thus, to controlling all three levels of state power, as they already control the State Assembly and the Governor is a Democrat, for the first time since 1935. In November, Aubertine's re-election along with the addition of two new Democratic Senators cleared the way for Sen. Malcolm Smith to be named Majority Leader on January 8, 2009.

On November 4, 2008, Aubertine defeated Watertown attorney David Renzi by about 6,000 votes (52,908 to 46,941) to win re-election to a full term beginning in January with 53 percent of the vote, despite consistent negative advertising and a large party enrollment disadvantage[8]

Aubertine had been mentioned as a leading candidate to run for the House seat representing New York's 23rd congressional district, formerly held by Secretary of the Army nominee John McHugh, a Republican. In lieu of the campaign, the Senator embarked on a tour of New York State to gather information on key legislative issues, most notably the expiring Power for Jobs program and the Farm Labor Fair Practices Act, which he opposed on the grounds that it would be damaging to the state's agricultural industry and harm the very workers it is intended to benefit.

As a member of the Senate Majority, Aubertine has been one of the most prolific legislators, passing more than 50 bills in 2010, all with broad bipartisan support. That legislation included bills to reduce regulations and open up new opportunities for farmers [9] that includes "Energize New York" a reformed version of the successful Power for Jobs legislation, for which he sponsored an extension this year, protecting a quarter of a million jobs, including 25,000 in Central New York and the North Country.[10] The Senator worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to defeat legislation opposed by gun owners [11] and the farm labor bill.[12] On December 2, 2009, Aubertine was one of eight Democratic state senators to vote against same-sex marriage legislation, which failed to pass the Senate.[13]

Aubertine was defeated for re-election by Republican St. Lawrence County Clerk Patricia A. "Patty" Ritchie in November 2010.

Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets[edit]

Governor Andrew Cuomo nominated Aubertine as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets on January 6, 2011. Aubertine was unanimously confirmed by the State Senate on April 5, 2011. He had been serving in the capacity as acting commissioner between his nomination and final confirmation.

Election results[edit]

Darrel J. Aubertine (DEM - WOR) ... 29,504
Will Barclay (REP - IND - CON) ... 26,662
Darrel J. Aubertine (DEM - WOR) ... 52,908
David A. Renzi (REP - IND - CON) ... 46,942
Patricia A. Ritchie (REP - CON - TXP) ... 38,508
Darrel J. Aubertine (DEM - IND) ... 34,712

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

New York Assembly
Preceded by
William Sanford
New York State Assembly, 118th District
2003–2008
Succeeded by
Addie Jenne Russell
New York State Senate
Preceded by
James W. Wright
New York State Senate, 48th District
2008–2010
Succeeded by
Patty Ritchie
Political offices
Preceded by
Catharine Young
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture
2009–2010
Succeeded by
Patty Ritchie
Preceded by
Kevin Parker
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Telecommunications
May 2009-December 2009
Succeeded by
George Maziarz