Local leaders sworn in

The new year holds something new for elected officials returning to Albany: a Democratic majority.

It is something that longtime former Democratic Assemblyman Paul Tonko is familiar with, and something he will also experience in Washington as the area's new congressman.

However, aside from a brief stint in the 1960s, Democrats will control the state's Senate for the first time since the Great Depression.

Tonko was sworn in at his old legislative chamber in the state Capitol on Monday, Dec. 29, by the man he replaced retiring Rep. Michael R. McNulty.

Taking part in a swearing-in ceremony in the Assembly Chamber, Tonko took his oath of office along with other area legislators, including Assemblymen John J. McEneny, D-Albany; Robert P. Reilly, D-Newtownville; and Timothy P. Gordon, I-Bethlehem. Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares was also a part of the ceremony officially kicking off his second four-year term as the county's top prosecutor.

Although Gordon was the only non-Democrat at the ceremony he's the state's only Independence Party assemblyman and Bethlehem's Independence Party chairman " he caucuses with the Assembly Democrats and will once again be a part of its majority.

The next day, Tuesday, Dec. 30, in the Senate Chamber, state Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, was sworn in for his seventh term of office by his brother, Albany County Executive Michael Breslin.

This year will mark Breslin's first time in the majority party as a state senator.

Breslin has maintained since the November elections that he was hopeful a change in power would lead to higher level of fairness in the state's upper legislative house when it came to staffing levels and to the disbursement of funding for member items.

The fact that New York is facing a $15 billion deficit wasn't lost on Breslin, who was a ranking member of state's insurance committee and will be the committee's new chairman when new Democratic majority begins the new legislative session this month.

Breslin said the state budget needs to be balanced in a way that still protects primary and preventative health care and education.

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, led the Dec. 29 ceremony and read a letter from Gov. David A. Paterson that congratulated those who were sworn in.""

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