While Farley was in law school, he said he interned as a clerked for GE and he saw the counsel’s office “dramatically shrunk.” He recounted a memory of one employee having to change his life.
“The guy who had his office next to me was a 45-year-old man … his wife and his child had to be uprooted when he lost his job and he had a kid in college,” said Farley. “I looked at that and said, ‘Boy, this is really rough.’”
After being out of law school for six years, Farley made his first bid against then incumbent Democrat Christopher Gardner’s seat in District 3. Farley said his platform focused on reinvigorating the county’s economy “from the ground up,” because he didn’t believe GE would return to be the jobs engine for the area.
“Schenectady at that time had probably the finest workforce in the United States of America, because they were world class trained by GE,” he said. “It is still a community of wonderful people and I knew we could do some good things.”
Getting back to work
This led him to helping start the Economic Development Committee. He also chaired a committee on government access and another dealing with the county library.
He had a hand in creating the Economic Development Zone legislation, which is now known as the Empire Zone Program. The program previously held strict requirements, he said, because projects needed to target an economically disadvantaged population while having a significant amount of land available for development.
“There is not a lot of poor people where there is empty land, so we had to get creative on this,” he said. “Glenville had a lot of empty land and Schenectady had a lot of disadvantaged population.”
By bringing the Glenville supervisor and mayor of Schenectady together, Farley helped craft a joint application to the state for an economic development zone. The state accepted the application, which helped spur development.