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Candidates in the 43rd square off

"While I have a lifetime of service to the public, I am not a lifetime politician, banker or lawyer. My strength comes from the fact that I know what it is like to work 12-hour shifts, weekends and raise two sons as a single parent. I know what it is like to have to stretch your income to pay the bills. I know the challenges New York's working men, women and families face every day and will be an effective and outspoken advocate on their behalf in the New York state Senate."

Mike Russo, 50, left his position as district representative at Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand's, D-Greenport, office to join the race. Since his arrival just before the filing deadline, Russo has secured many endorsements, including most of the Democratic committees in the 43rd.

He says he will "stand up for what is right, regardless of whether or not my position is politically popular," and will listen to others in kind in hopes of promoting a transparent government.

"Senator Bruno's No. 1 legacy will be his ability to bring funding to the area as the majority leader and to improve public facilities (airport, train station etc.). I strongly disagree with his established operational rules that prohibit the minority party from having any meaningful say in the legislative process.

"I think all of our senators, regardless of their party affiliation, should have their say in our legislative process. As a majority member in the Senate, I would support increasing the role of the minority party and changing the rules so all of our elected Senators can express the views of their constituents."

Russo applauded the legislature's recent efforts to decrease spending, but said more should be done. He suggested examining the usefulness of paid consultants and political appointees, auditing all agencies and eliminating waste and "eliminating fraud and abuse within the Medicaid program."

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