State Sen. Ritchie not seeking re-election

Statement from State Sen. Patricia Ritchie

HEUVELTON, NY —  For the past 11 years, I have been incredibly fortunate to represent the people of the 48th Senate District. It has been the opportunity of a lifetime and a job I have loved, which is why it is so bittersweet for me to announce I will not be running for reelection and retiring at the end of 2022. This is a decision I did not arrive at lightly. However, it is the right one for my family and I. Next month will mark 36 years of public service for me and while words cannot express how much I will miss the work I do, I look forward to being able to spend more time with my family—including my husband who retired a year ago, my children and my grandchildren.

From my days in the St. Lawrence County Department of Motor Vehicles, to my ten years as County Clerk, to my current role as State Senator, public service has always been my passion. Thank you to the voters who put their faith in me, and allowed me to do what I enjoy the most. With your support, we have achieved many great things.

As former Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee for nearly a decade, I am especially proud of the work I have done to advance legislation and programs strengthening the bottom lines of our hardworking farmers. Programs, like the “New Farmers Grant Program,” which I spearheaded in 2014, are continuing to help protect the future of this vitally important industry. In addition, year after year, I was proud to stand up and fight for the restoration of millions of dollars in state budget funding for agricultural programs benefiting farmers in every part of our state.

Throughout my tenure, I have been proud to author dozens of new laws that seek to create better opportunities and improve quality of life for people across our state. As a mother and grandmother, my bill to raise awareness of TV and furniture “tip over” hazards was of particular importance to me. Signed into law in 2015, this measure continues to help save lives. I have also been proud to work alongside partners in local government throughout Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties to help strengthen local communities. To date, I have delivered more than $75 million in grants to help make possible important infrastructure and quality of life improvements throughout Central and Northern New York.

It goes without saying that working on issues important to the counties I represent has been a priority for me. In 2016, I was proud to have played a role in helping to save the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Plant in Oswego County. Alongside the local community, we successfully fought for its continued operation; helping to preserve hundreds of jobs and an unparalleled economic benefit to the region. Similarly, in 2013, I was proud to be a part of the task force to save the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. When Albany said they’d be closing its doors, we successfully rallied to keep this important facility open, and in turn, protected hundreds of jobs and vital mental health care services. In 2017 and 2019, our region saw unprecedented flooding along the banks of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. In many instances, people’s homes and livelihoods were destroyed. I was proud to be there for them—touring their properties, seeing damage firsthand and advocating for hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to help them rebuild.

Representing the brave men and women of the 10th Mountain Division has also been a tremendous point of pride for me. I will never forget being at deployment ceremonies, watching our brave troops prepare to head overseas and being overwhelmed with gratitude for the sacrifices made by them, and their families. I have been proud to support them, advocate for programs to ensure their well-being and to introduce my colleagues in Albany to Fort Drum through my “10th Mountain Division and Fort Drum Day” event, which has taken place at the Capitol for nearly a decade. In addition, since 2012, I have advocated for the inclusion of “Military Base Retention” funding in the state budget, which helps strengthen Fort Drum and other military facilities across the state. To date, nearly $6 million from the fund has benefitted Fort Drum related projects.

While it might not make headlines, one of the cornerstones of my State Senate office has always been serving constituents. Every day, my office receives calls from people who know they can call and have someone on the other end who is willing to help—no matter how unexpected the issue may be. Annually, we receive thousands of calls and emails from residents and that number has increased significantly during the pandemic. In fact, from March of 2020 to today, my office has helped nearly 20,000 constituents looking for assistance.

Many of my accomplishments would not have been possible without the support of my colleagues in the Senate and especially those in the Republican Conference. Throughout my tenure, I have been fortunate to work alongside so many individuals whose dedication to bettering our state is unmatched. I’ve been proud to stand beside them and fight for issues important to New Yorkers and am grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given, including being named Conference Chair by our Minority Leader, Senator Rob Ortt.

As I look back, there are many I need to thank for making this journey possible. First and foremost, I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of the voters. I would like to thank those in St. Lawrence County, Jefferson County and Oswego County—a place where I was virtually unknown in the beginning. Despite that, people took a leap of faith and gave me a chance. For that, I am grateful.

From the days away from home to the weekends on the campaign trail, being State Senator has meant a lot of time away from those I love the most. No matter what, my family has always been behind me. I cannot thank them enough for being with me every step of the way. As I write this, I am of course thinking of my biggest supporter, my dad, who I lost nearly two years ago. Along with my mother, who today is still one of my biggest cheerleaders, my parents have always been there, encouraging me to pursue my dreams and setting an example of hard work to follow.

Anyone who has been in politics knows you cannot run a campaign alone. I have been lucky to have the absolute best campaign volunteers who spent countless hours taking part in parades, going door-to-door with me, stuffing envelopes and attending community events. No matter what I asked, they were there for me. I cannot express how thankful I am for their dedication and friendship.

Last but not least, I would like to thank my dedicated staff, many of whom have been with me since “day one.” It is because of their tireless efforts that I have been able to succeed in this position. Whether they are assisting constituents or attending meetings and events on my behalf when my schedule won’t allow, their hard work has made not only a difference in my life, but also in the lives of so many people I represent.

People will often ask me—“what’s the best part of your job?” The answer is simple, and it’s the people. Throughout the years, I have been blessed to meet so many hardworking, genuine and kind individuals. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be their representative and their voice in Albany. I will forever be grateful for their support, their friendship and for giving me this incredible opportunity.