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Gillibrand looking for home in Placid area

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks May 7, 2018, at the Adirondack North Country Association office in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

PLATTSBURGH — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is looking for a home in the Lake Placid side of the North Country, her office said Monday.

The Times Union of Albany first reported Sunday that the senator was moving her New York residence out of the Capital Region in the hopes of relocating it to the state’s northernmost region.

The Rensselaer County home she and her husband Jonathan purchased in 2011 is now on the market for $420,000.

“Makes sense”

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas said he has known the senator and her husband since she was first elected to represent New York’s 20th Congressional District. At the time of Gillibrand’s election to the seat in 2006, the district — which she represented until her appointment to the U.S. Senate in 2009 — encompassed part of Essex County, including Lake Placid.

“We quickly became friends, and she has remained a frequent visitor to the North Country, including summer vacations with the family each year in and around Lake Placid,” Douglas continued.

“They love our area, and it makes sense they’d like to make it their home. And I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that we have direct air service to Washington here in Plattsburgh.”

Having a U.S. senator make the North Country her home base “is a positive and welcome development,” Douglas said.

“First, because it spotlights what a special region of the world we live in, but also because it will of course only increase our already frequent opportunities to see and interact with her.”

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Opportunities

State Sen. Betty Little, R-Queensbury, also mentioned how Gillibrand represented Essex County and the Lake Placid area while in Congress.

The district has a lot going on, including the upcoming 2023 FISU Winter World University Games and the Plattsburgh International Airport, she added.

Little said that Gillibrand knows the district, pointing to past work they did together.

“I think it’ll be nice to have her back,” Little said.

“There are lots of opportunities for a nice lifestyle in the North Country.”

It is an opportune time for the region to grow as people who live in densely populated cities may look to move to less crowded areas, since throughout the COVID-19 pandemic it has been proven many can work from home, Little continued.

“I think she’ll be welcomed with warm arms by the North Country. Warm arms at a social distance, though,” she added, laughingly.

Not political

SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor Harvey Schantz, whose teaching areas include the U.S. Congress, said he did not see Gillibrand looking to relocate her New York residence to the North Country as a political move.

“Gillibrand is well-positioned for general election victory in 2024, and she is locating further from most Democratic primary voters.”

Schantz added that, since the state began voting directly for U.S. senators in 1914, a Democratic senator from New York has never lost reelection, further noting that Gillibrand won with 67% of the vote in 2018.

“Moreover, as New York has trended more strongly toward the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party primary has become as important a hazard for statewide elected officials as the general election and there is speculation that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx is eyeing a Senate primary challenge for a Senate seat,” he said.

“Moving to the North Country, far from most Democratic voters, is again not a move intended to fortify her primary constituency.”

Beneficial to region

Still, Gillibrand’s move to the North Country is understandable, Schantz said, citing her familiarity with the area.

“I think her residency in the North Country would be beneficial for the region,” the professor continued. “Gillibrand would be more available to our local media, developing our area as a source of news, (and) to hear the concerns of our local business community, environmentalists, educators and other citizens, as well as increase the spotlight on our locale.”

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