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MIDDLETOWN, NY — The swearing-in ceremony of state Sen. Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther on January 2 was packed with an audience of about 400. Middletown Mayor Joe DeStefano, the master of ceremonies for the evening, noted that the vote in 2018 was 43% higher than in 2014, and that both Gunther and Metzger received more than 70% of the vote in the City of Middletown.
Many local elected officials were on hand for the event, as was Andrea Stewart-Cousins who is now the first woman and first African American to serve as the majority leader in the New York State Senate. She noted that this is the most diverse Senate in the history of the state. She also said it is unprecedented that there are 15 new members voted in this session, and in the Democratic Caucus, 14 of the senators are women.
Stewart-Cousins praised Gunther and Metzger for their passion and activism, saying that once she heard that Sen. John Bonacic was retiring from his seat, she had tried to persuade Gunther to run for it. Gunther wanted to stay in the Assembly.
After being sworn in, Gunther, who has been serving her district for 15 years, highlighted her priorities for the year, which include high-speed broadband for all residents of the district and improved healthcare. She also said she was looking forward to the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
After Metzger was sworn in she thanked Bonacic for his many years of service to the district and talked about the make-up of the constituents in the New York 42nd Senate District and what they expect from leaders in government. “We are black, brown and white. We are straight, gay and transgender. We are Democrat and Republican—many of us are... none of those things. We come from a variety of political perspectives and religious beliefs. But we are all bound together by common ideals. We all want everyone to be treated equally, and fairly,” she said. “We all want a good quality of life for ourselves and an even better quality of life for our children. We want everyone to be able to live a life with dignity... And these are things that we should expect from a modern society, and from one of the richest countries in the world. We all want and should have a clean, healthy environment, affordable healthcare, decent wages, good schools and homes that we can afford to retire in.”