Didi Barrett faces primary challenge in June 25 election

Didi Barrett

Judith O'Hara Balfe

Didi Barrett faces primary challenge in June 25 election

Hudson — Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106) is facing a primary challenge from Claire Cousin on June 25, a first for this legislator who has served in the Assembly since 2012 when she won the seat in a special election.

Barrett, 73, was elected then to finish the term of Marc Molinaro, who was elected to serve as Dutchess County Executive, a post he then held for three terms before his election to Congress.

Barrett was the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected in the District, which covers parts of Dutchess and Columbia counties from the Town of Poughkeepsie to New Lebanon in the north.

Chair of the Assembly’s Energy Committee, she also serves on committees on agriculture, environmental conservation and tourism, arts and sports development. Barrett has been active in Albany and is a well known in her District for her support of nonprofits, community project needs, housing as well as historical and cultural resources.

“I’ve been immersed for over a decade in understanding and being part of the issues in the community,” she said, noting support in terms of financial capital and operational financing.

“I have been a significant supporter of the North East Community Center from the very beginning,” she said, referencing the food pantry and the child care center.

“We secured $500,000 for the new highway garage for the Town of North East.”

Barrett also cited the funding that was provided for the accessible bleachers at Millerton’s Eddie Collins Field, and for the capital and operational support for the NorthEast-Millerton Library.

Among some recent accomplishments, Barrett cited her part in securing $3 million for two nonprofit housing organizations: Hudson River Columbia-Greene Habitat for Humanity.

This spring, Barrett and Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D-41) secured $250,000 through state grants to help replace the South Millbrook Wastewater Pump Station.

Last year, Barrett introduced, along with Hinchey, the Smart Integrative Tools for Energy Development (SITED) Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Hochul earlier this year. The law promotes a requirement to help communities identify lands best suited for siting of renewable energy projects.

Barrett also sponsored a bill that passed the Assembly last month to establish a plan for fast-charging of electric vehicles.

The longtime Hudson Valley resident criss-crosses the District in a hybrid vehicle, and enjoys holding office in diners and coffee houses, including Irving Farm in Millerton.

Charging for EVs

“That’s been a challenge and certainly in areas like ours that are more rural where people are very worried, you know, that ‘range anxiety.’

On the legislative front, Albany has focused on goals related to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which was signed into law in 2019 and stands as one of the most ambitious climate laws in the nation.

The CLCPA goals include greenhouse gas emission reductions of 40 percent by 2030. There are other energy initiatives: a grid modernization program to upgrade an aging infrastructure, a requirement that all future buildings be electric, and that school buses on the road be zero-emission by 2035.

“We now are are charged with how we implement and reach those goals, but also, how do we pay for them and you know affordability is one of the major focuses right now for me,” Barrett said.

“I feel so honored and privileged to be representing (this District) because it really is an extraordinary and very beautiful part of New York state.

“I feel like I have been able to be a really strong voice and a unique voice that understands the diversity of the district, the complexity of the district,” she said.

When asked how she felt about facing a primary challenge, Barrett said, “I know that it’s a free country and people are entitled to run.

“I feel there is so much to be done. I personally would rather be raising money and fighting for the November races.”

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