Former state Assemblyman Paul Tonko, who represented Schenectady and Montgomery counties for more than two decades, will announce his candidacy for the 21st Congressional District on Tuesday. That's great news for the area and for the local Democratic party.
Tonko is a class act who has been a role model for many elected officials. He's smart, gracious and approachable. Whether it was a black-tie affair at the Capitol or a chicken dinner at a local fire house, Paul was there. And everyone -- from the party bigwig to the nonpartisan senior citizen -- had his attention and interest. A role model, for sure.
Anyway, Paul will enter a crowded Democratic field -- with some candidates more legitimate than others -- but should immediately rise to the top. He has a solid reputation, an experienced organization and a faithful following. It won't be a slam dunk -- Tracy Brooks looks strong -- but Paul Tonko should take on the front-runner mantle right away. I look forward to voting for him.
Of course, all this is happening because Mike McNulty -- who has served the 21st CD with integrity and distinction for more than 20 years -- is retiring. I don't know anyone -- in or out of politics -- who doesn't like Mike and appreciate his many years of service to our community. He has personally been very kind to me on many occasions and he will be missed.
(Paul Tonko will make his official announcement at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Labor Temple, 890 Third Street in Albany.)