Aidan O'Connor Jr.
Bringing Character, Commitment and Results
As a first responder I've seen firsthand the devastation the opioids are causing to our family, friends and community. I've been able to save the lives of individuals who have overdosed with the reversal drug, NARCAN. And I've had to tell parents, children and friends that no matter how hard we tried, their loved ones had died.
As a County Legislator and Chair of the Health Services committee, I have added medication and needle drop box sites, voted to join a class action suit against pharmaceutical companies, sponsored grants helping peer-to-peer programs and hosted and supported local NARCAN training courses.
As your next Member of the Assembly, I will continue to support and continue local programs that keep people alive. I will also support legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies financially responsible for this epidemic, and remove that cost from property owners’ tax expenses. In addition, I will fight to bring much-needed in-patient services to our district.
Rural healthcare Access
One of every five residents of our District is over 61 years old, and that percentage is increasing at a steady rate, which is why healthcare needs to be a primary focus of our efforts. We have only two small hospitals to serve 129,000 residents spread out over 7 counties, so we need to enhance our EMS systems, continue to support our County Public Health Departments and seek out technology that is allows individuals to be treated remotely right in their kitchens and living rooms.
As a Healthcare Provider, I have seen EMS struggling from a lack of volunteers, and transitioning from volunteers to paid agencies in some communities. But unlike other communities, EMS isn’t just an emergency service on our district. It’s often the only medical service providing the difference between life and death. That’s why I support the Mobile Integrated Healthcare System, which allows EMS providers in between emergency calls to visit the homes of those who are ill or elderly. Sometimes we just visit someone who is lonely, or review their medications, or answer any questions they have and, if needed, refer them to a Nurse or Doctor.
Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for grant funding or event support services to help with this transition. That’s why one of my missions in the Assembly will be to provide support, funding and ongoing stability to these EMS agencies and EMS professionals.
We face a double crisis in our District. Our colleges face funding shortfalls from shrinking enrollment and aid, while employers struggle to find job seekers with the training and vocational skills they need to succeed.
I was one of those job seekers, until I was trained for a job in Greene County through the EMS certification program at SUNY Cobleskill. That’s why I think we can solve both problems by re-orienting SUNY colleges to focus on programs that will train students for jobs that are available locally. Whether it’s a certificate, a 2-year or a 4-year program, we need to equip students with skills that are in demand in the local job market.
Cell and Broadband Infrastructure, 911 services
Modern communications are essential to life in a mountainous district like ours. We need to maximize the use of every cell tower, public or private, which means encouraging owners to share their facilities for the common good and overturning current legislation that interferes with such cooperation.
In 2012, our Assembly District was ranked 148th out of 150 for access to broadband internet, and recently New York State provided funding to private companies to ensure that every household in the State has access to efficient and affordable broadband. As your next Assembly Member, my job will be to ensure that those private companies use that money to get high speed broadband service to your home. As a County Legislator, I know how important that is to keeping our youth here, enhancing small business opportunities and helping those interested in improving their education and skills online.
As a First Responder, I know how critical 911 communications are in a community like ours... there’s nothing more frustrating than being unable to communicate with your dispatchers in the middle of an emergency call. That’s why I’ve voted “Yes” on every upgrade of 911 communications as a County Legislator. In addition, I’ve supported legislation that calls on the State to return the taxes we already pay on our cell phone plans to be invested in improvements to local dispatch centers. As your Assembly Member, I can now actually vote for that legislation, and return that tax revenue back to our community, where it belongs.
Leadership through energy and integrity
There are no wealthy counties in the 102nd Assembly District. We need to approach our problems using good fiscal sense and making every penny count, which is my philosophy as a public servant. As the President of the Board for the not-for-profit Greene County Paramedics, we added new lifesaving equipment and medications without increasing a single town or county budget. I support the 2% tax cap on all levels of government, including New York State, and I've stood up against irresponsible spending. In 2016, I voted against a Greene County budget that increased our taxes by 8.5%. In 2017, I opposed the budget once again, until the Legislature agreed to eliminate a change for retirees that would have left hundreds of former county employees with a drastic increase in their healthcare insurance and prescription plans.
I love problem solving and serving my community. It's what led me to volunteer with the Greenville Volunteer Rescue Squad while I was in High School, to become a first responder, to run for Rotary Club President, and why I was elected to the Greene County Legislature by voters from every party. We look out for one another In our communities, and I believe that our representatives should look out for the people who put them in office.
As a first responder, I have a unique perspective on gun safety. Whenever there’s a gun-related incident —a homicide, a suicide, or an accident — EMTs like myself are among the first on the scene. I respect the 2nd Amendment, but my experience has taught me that we must have thoughtful laws that keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Recently, I watched the images of first responders arriving in Parkland, Florida, and the grief and panic on the faces of survivors and their loved ones rushing to the scene. Sadly we’ve witnessed this too many times - in Columbine… and Aurora… and Las Vegas… and Orlando… and Charleston.
We are blessed here in New York to have the third lowest rate of death by firearms in the nation. Why? In part because we have a long tradition of hunting and gun safety — we grew up using and respecting guns. But we also have some of the strongest laws in the nation concerning gun safety.
Some of those laws were pushed through the legislature in the middle of the night, and that was wrong. No legislation should be passed that way. But based on my experience as both a gun owner and an EMT, I believe many of those provisions are just common sense:
· We should have background checks for gun purchases.
· The 75,000 New Yorkers with serious mental health issues should not have guns.
· Guns should be registered.
· There should be strong penalties for shooting volunteer firemen and EMTs.
I support gun safety laws that protect our communities, while protecting rights of gun owners.