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Democrat Karen Smythe takes a second run at state senate seat

DUTCHESS COUNTY — A Democrat running for New York State Senate, Karen Smythe is an advocate for the environment. She is dedicated to fighting for lower carbon emissions, protecting the Hudson Valley’s drinking water and to preserving the region’s natural beauty. She is also running on the Working Families and Save America Service party lines.

Smythe is no stranger to this race. She ran against incumbent Sen. Sue Serino (R-41) in 2018, losing her bid for the two-year term by only 688 votes. She knew then, she said, that she would run again in 2020.

District 41 incorporates almost all of Dutchess County and the western half of Putnam County. In addition to the city and town of Poughkeepsie, it stretches from Red Hook to Millerton in the northern parts of the county and from Cold Spring to Lake Carmel in the southern parts of the county. It includes North East, Millerton, Millbrook, Amenia and Pine Plains, as well as Hyde Park and Fishkill.

When asked about the most pressing issues facing Hudson Valley residents and businesses, she paused before responding.

“While there are many issues facing our region, the pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for affordable high-speed broadband in rural areas,” said Smythe. “Whether it’s students learning remotely, seniors accessing telehealth appointments or employees working from home, it’s now abundantly clear that broadband is no longer a luxury — it’s become a necessity.”

Vowing to bring equity to the situation, she added, “I would partner with representatives like Congressman Antonio Delgado, Senator Jen Metzger and other Hudson Valley leaders to make sure internet providers are meeting their mandated requirements in terms of building the necessary infrastructure — and penalizing them if they’re not. Once the infrastructure is in place, I would work to direct funding to ensure that municipalities like Millerton and others are able to provide service to low-income households that might otherwise struggle to provide service. Our reliance on broadband is only going to increase in the coming years and Millerton can’t afford to get left behind.”

Smythe brings to the position a business acumen earned as the first daughter in her family to head its construction business. She’s no stranger to hard work, negotiating and leadership, she said. She has also gained skills in communicating and working with others for the common good through her professional life.

Other issues on her platform include ensuring that veterans will thrive after returning from military service, with full access to mental health programs and legal services. She likes to be involved with veterans’ issues and is a member of her local VFW Auxiliary. She also promises to work to ensure a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions, and has been endorsed by both Planned Parenthood and the National Institute for Reproductive Health. Smythe was also endorsed by the Sierra Club, Food and Water Watch, a number of unions, by many Democratic organizations, both local and national, and the Military Sexual Trauma Movement. 

Smythe is a native of Poughkeepsie, where she grew up, married, had her son and daughter, taught Sunday school and coached soccer. She advocates for issues like education as well as the need to keep the environment protected for future generations.

Always active in the community, Smythe has served on the Board of the Bardovan, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum and was a trustee at Vassar College.

Her campaign slogan is, “Let’s Build a Stronger Hudson Valley Together,” and said she hopes voters will give her the chance to do so.

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