November-December 2018 Issue
October 22, 2018

Educators on the Ballot: It’s true what they say, all politics is local

Author: Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United
Caption: Kaitlin Tyndall, left, a NYSUT member running for St. Lawrence County Legislature, visits with Cathy Henry, a member of Madrid-Waddington TA, who used to be Tyndall’s physical education teacher. Photo by Ned Hoskin.

On a damp gray day in early October, Kaitlin Tyndall knocked on the door of a NYSUT member in the village of Madrid, St. Lawrence County. A minute passed, a dog barked inside, and the door opened. Big smiles. “Hey, I know you, you’re Kaitlin,” said the woman at the door. “I read about you.”

“Yes, hi!” Tyndall said, reaching out to shake the woman’s hand. “I’m running for county legislature!”

The small towns in the northern reaches of the state all share the same economic pinch, and they feel the related problems with substance abuse and unemployment. Tyndall, who grew up here, is a teaching assistant in Potsdam and a member of the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Federation of Instructional Support Personnel. “I am stepping up and want to make a difference in this county,” she says.

Tyndall is one of three union members in NYSUT’s Pipeline Project running for the St. Lawrence County Legislature this year. The others are Nicole Terminelli, a member of the Massena Federation of Teachers, and Mike Hammond of the Ogdensburg Education Association. With local union help, Terminelli already won a primary to earn her place on the ballot.

The Pipeline Project provides training and resources for members willing to run for local or state office. Having the union behind them makes a huge difference.

“It’s incredible to have that added support and that group of people behind me pushing me forward,” Tyndall said. “Helping to hit these doors today is awesome.”

The county candidates also are advocating for NYSUT-endorsed state legislative candidates, and for Tedra Cobb, who is running for Congress in District 21.

A former county legislator, Cobb advocated for funding during difficult times for North Country schools, said Don Carlisto, co-president of the Saranac Lake TA and a member of NYSUT’s executive committee. “She’s well known to NYSUT members here and the groundswell of support for her candidacy has been unmistakable,” he said.

NYSUT doesn’t endorse in local elections, but its local affiliate unions do, and they provide the most valuable resource for local and state endorsed candidates: feet on the street, phone banking and other volunteer needs.

“Candidates who earn the union’s support can count on more than just financial support,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “They can count on grassroots, neighborhood, face-to-face campaigning on their behalf. Through our hundreds of thousands of members and their activism, we are a force to be reckoned with.”

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