Central/Western NY Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

December 10, 2020  
10:00AM - 11:00AM
Event Description

Central/Western NY Virtual State Legislative Forum sponsored by AARP NY

As state lawmakers are gearing up to head back to Albany, they’ll be making important decisions on the coronavirus pandemic response, the state budget, and issues that will impact your household finances. This virtual forum offers a chance to ask questions about your representatives’ legislative and policy priorities.  Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to be able to hear directly from your legislators. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity!


Connect with Your Lawmakers representing Central/ Western NY on their priorities for 2021. Join us!

December 10th, 2020


Connect with us to discuss important topics with your lawmakers, such as:

•            Nursing Homes, Long Term Care and Family Caregiving

•            Prescription Drug Affordability

•            Financial Security


This is a free event. Registration is required to attend.


Marianne Buttenschon
Marianne Buttenschon
New York State Assembly Member, 119th District
Before winning election to the Assembly’s 119th District, Dr. Marianne Buttenschon was the Dean of Public Service and Emergency Preparedness at Mohawk Valley Community College. Her 2018 campaign for the Assembly was her first attempt at elected office. Marianne is married to Don Buttenschon, a retired public school psychologist. They have three grown children and one granddaughter. For over 30 years, Don and Marianne have operated the Buttenschon Christmas Tree Farm in the Town of Marcy, Oneida County. Marianne is a career-long educator and a lifelong learner. She earned an AAS from Mohawk Valley Community College, a BA in Public Justice from SUNY (IT) Polytechnic Institute, an MA in Public Policy from Binghamton University and a Doctorate of Education from Northeastern. Her priorities are protecting the people of the Mohawk Valley, educating the children of the Mohawk Valley and bringing good jobs to the Mohawk Valley. Marianne’s objectives as a public servant are reflected by her high level of civic and professional engagement. She was vice president of the Utica Community Food Bank and a member of the League of Women Voters. Marianne was a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. Based upon her long commitment to public safety and the improvement of New York State’s first response capability, Speaker Heastie chose Marianne to be the Assembly’s representative on the Interoperable and Emergency Communications Board. Marianne values transparency, accountability and fairness, believing every citizen has the right to be heard and to know how their government functions. Marianne represents one of the most economically and demographically diverse districts in Upstate New York. The City of Rome, with Griffiss Business and Technology Park and Griffiss International Airport, holds great promise for the development of drone technologies and other cutting-edge manufacturing. The City of Utica’s revival is in large part due to the hard work of its dedicated residents and the growing refugee and immigrant population. Agriculture remains a constant, indispensable driver of the local economy. The 119th AD is also comprised of the suburban and farming communities of Floyd, Marcy, Whitestown and the Herkimer County Town of Frankfort.
Rachel May
New York State Senator, 53rd District
Senator Rachel May represents Central New York’s 53rd District, which includes most of the City of Syracuse, parts of Onondaga and Oneida counties, and all of Madison County. She chairs the Senate Committee on Aging and the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, and is a member of the committees on agriculture, elections, environmental conservation, higher education, and Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation. As a freshman legislator, Senator May has been instrumental in passing transformative legislation, including comprehensive election reforms, tenant-centered housing reforms, unprecedented criminal justice reform, and the nation’s most ambitious climate legislation. She has worked hard to bring the people of Central New York into the process of decision-making in Albany, by holding a record number of legislative hearings in and focused on the region, including hearings on the Climate Leadership and Community Preservation Act, rural broadband, farm labor rights, health care for all, and upstate nursing home issues during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, she has brought her downstate colleagues to Central New York for roundtables on opioid addiction treatment and prevention, minority and women-owned businesses, and childcare and child welfare. She has also sponsored and passed into law a bill to create the first regional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) school for Central New York, which is currently under construction in the City of Syracuse. As chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, she has been a vigorous supporter of home care workforce initiatives, expanded funding for in-home care programs, the Long-term Care Ombudsman Program, and nursing home accountability. She has sponsored bills to create a Reimagining Long Term Care Task Force, authorize a family caregiver tax credit, and create a home care jobs innovation fund to support workforce growth. A resident of Syracuse, Senator May had a successful career in higher education prior to running for public office. She started out as a professor of Russian language and literature at Stony Brook University, where she was a proud member of UUP, before earning tenure at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. She moved to Syracuse in 2001 and retrained in ecology and sustainability, becoming director of sustainability education at Syracuse University. Senator May earned a master’s degree from Oxford University on a Marshall Scholarship and a Ph.D. in Russian language and literature from Stanford University. She also earned a master’s degree from SUNY-ESF. She and her husband, a professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, have one daughter who recently graduated from Cornell University. Senator May was recently elected to a second term.
Al Stirpe
New York State Assemblymember, 127th District
A lifelong Central New Yorker, Al was raised in Clyde, where his family owned and operated Albert's Restaurant for more than 25 years. Al graduated from high school with honors and attended the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics. After college, Al worked as a financial analyst for General Electric in Syracuse and eventually spun-off GE's Electronic Camera Operation to form CID Technologies. Al was the company's CFO and fostered innovation in the company's information systems and customer support. In 1994, CIDTEC was sold to Thermo Electron, a Fortune 500 company. From there, Al formed a new venture, Qube Software, Inc. As the company's president, Al brought Qube Software from a start-up business to a multi-million dollar company with 200 customers throughout the United States and Canada. He was first elected to the Assembly in 2006, serving until 2010. During 2011-2012, Al served as the Executive Director of Synapse Sustainability Trust, an environmental not-for-profit. During this period Synapse deployed 68 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations throughout Central New York. Through its Restoration Tree Trust, Synapse provided over 4,000 native trees for reforestation projects at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and Trees for Tributaries (from New York City to Troy along tributaries to the Hudson River). In addition, Synapse provided 420 special RPM technology trees for SUNY ESF's Memorial Grove at Heiberg Forest. In October of 2011, Al received the first ever SUNY Empire State College Excellence in Environmental Sustainability Award. He was elected again in 2012, and has served the 127th district in the assembly since then. As chairperson of the Assembly Standing Committee on Small Business, Al is focused on reducing red tape for businesses, improving the worker training pipeline, and increasing export trade potential for businesses of all sizes. The other committees he serves on include Agriculture; Alcoholism and Drug Abuse; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; and Higher Education. Al has resided in the 127th Assembly District for more than 38 years. He lives in North Syracuse with his wife, Chele, and their daughter, Alexandra. Al's step-son Chris – after serving four years on active duty in the Navy – earned a Masters in Economics from The University of Buffalo and works at Syracuse University in data analytics. His step-daughter Jesseca lives in an ARC of Onondaga group home for the disabled in Syracuse. Al has served on the Board of Directors of Familycapped (now Advocates Inc.), a non-profit organization comprised of parents of children with disabilities; the organization was formed to expand programs for handicapped children in Central New York. Al and Chele were directly involved in helping to raise over $1 million to build Casey's Place, a respite home for families caring for disabled children. He also serves on the Boards of Friends of North Syracuse Early Education, Onondaga Citizens League, New York State Fair Advisory Board and formerly served on the board at CNY Bounty (the Farmer's Market to Your Door). For the past 12 years, Al has run his LifeSavers Blood Drive in conjunction with the Red Cross. It has come to be one of the biggest one-day drives in Central New York, regularly netting over 150 units of blood during the middle of summer, the most difficult time of the year for blood donations.
Donna Lupardo
New York State Assemblymember, 123rd District
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo was first elected in 2004 and is currently in her eighth term representing the City of Binghamton and Towns of Union and Vestal. She has a number of leadership positions in the Assembly including: Chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture; Chair, New York Legislative Aviation Caucus, and former Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus. Assemblywoman Lupardo also serves on the following Assembly Committees: Economic Development, Higher Education, Rules, and Transportation.
Robert Smullen
New York State Assemblymember, 118th District
Robert Smullen was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 6, 2018. His district is comprised of Fulton, Hamilton and parts of Herkimer, Oneida and St. Lawrence counties. As an Assemblyman, Robert will work to lower taxes, lessen regulations to strengthen the state’s economy and protect our liberty. He is committed to providing support for veterans and active service military personnel, drafting legislation aimed at protecting vulnerable New Yorkers and tirelessly working to improve the quality of life for his constituents and the residents of the state. In 2015, he retired from the Marine Corps at the rank of Colonel, with 24 years of service and three combat tours to Afghanistan, including participating in Operation Enduring Freedom after the September 11th, 2001 attacks on New York. He has also served at the Pentagon as a military strategist and in numerous command and staff positions around the world. Before election, Robert was the Executive Director of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District, a New York State Public Benefit Corporation. In 2003, Robert was appointed by President George W. Bush as a White House Fellow, serving at the United States Department of Energy in the Office of the Secretary of Energy. He has a B.A. in History from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, an M.A. from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and an M.S. in Resource Management from The Eisenhower School, where he is a distinguished graduate of National Defense University. Robert is also a proud member of the American Legion and Marine Corps League. A lifelong resident of upstate New York, Robert lives on Matilda Hill Farm in the Town of Johnstown in Meco. He and his wife, Megan, have four children.
Thomas O'Mara
New York State Senator, 58th District
Thomas F. O'Mara was first elected to the New York State Senate on November 2, 2010. The 58th Senate District covers all of Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben and Yates counties, and a portion of Tompkins County (the city and town of Ithaca, and the towns of Enfield, Newfield and Ulysses). He presently serves as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Banks, Investigations and Government Operations, and Judiciary committees. For the legislative sessions 2015 through 2018, Senator O'Mara served as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation, one of the Legislature's key committees. In addition to his ranking member assignments, he also serves as a member on the following committees: Codes; Environmental Conservation; Ethics and Internal Guidance; and Transportation. He has also served as one of five state senators on the joint, bipartisan, 10-member Legislative Commission on the Development of Rural Resources, and as a member of the following Senate Task Forces: Heroin and Opioid Addiction; Lyme and Tick-borne Diseases; and Workforce Development. Prior to his Senate election, he represented the 137th Assembly District comprising Chemung and Schuyler counties as well as part of Tioga County for three consecutive, two-year terms. He was named Assistant Minority Leader Pro Tempore for the 2010 legislative session, the third-highest ranking position in the Assembly Republican legislative conference. In addition to his leadership role, he also served as a member of the Assembly Committees on Ways and Means, Energy, Banks, Ethics and Guidance, Judiciary and Tourism. As the ranking member on the Assembly Energy Committee, he worked to provide lower cost, more competitively priced energy for residents and businesses in New York State, while encouraging conservation efforts and fostering the use of renewable and clean energy. Senator O'Mara has stood as a commonsense, clear and strong voice in Albany on behalf of his constituents in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. He has been outspoken in opposition to out-of-control spending in Albany and a strong advocate for cutting waste in government, particularly in the state's $70-billion-plus system of Medicaid where he has championed better ways to manage care, improve disease management and utilize cutting-edge data mining technology to potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars that are being lost to waste, fraud and abuse. Throughout his public service, Senator O’Mara has been guided by a long-held belief: Government does not create jobs, business does. That's why he’s focused on developing public policies and strategies that allow state government to improve the economic climate for doing business in New York by opposing tax increases, and reducing state spending, mandates, overregulation and oppressive property taxes. In the Senate he has been at the forefront of efforts to revitalize Upstate New York's manufacturing sector. A former Chemung County District Attorney, Senator O’Mara has also served as Chemung County Attorney and as an Assistant District Attorney in both Manhattan and Chemung County. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the Syracuse University College of Law and a B.A. from the Catholic University of America, and is presently a member of the Barclay Damon LLP law firm. He was formerly a partner in the Davidson & O’Mara, PC law firm in Elmira. Active in his community, Senator O'Mara has served as counsel to the Chemung County Industrial Development Agency and St. Joseph's Hospital (Elmira). His focus is on improving the business climate in New York State and fostering economic growth throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions. He serves as a member of the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council (REDC), and has been a member of the Southern Tier Economic Growth (STEG) Board of Directors and the Schuyler County Partnership for Economic Development (SCOPED). He is a former Director and Secretary of St. Joseph's Hospital, a Trustee of the Horseheads Free Library, and a Board Member of the Wings of Eagles (formerly National Warplane Museum). He was the 2001/2002 Chairman of the American Red Cross Chemung/Schuyler Chapter and a Director there for seven years. He was a member of the New York State Judicial Screening Committee for Chemung County and a member of Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli’s Southern Tier Organization to Reform Medicaid (STORM). An avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, camping, skiing, and snowmobiling, Senator O’Mara is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and a member of the Sons of the American Legion and the Shooters Committee on Public Education (SCOPE), as well as the Farm Bureau of New York/Chemung County, Ancient Order of Hibernians- Elmira, and Montour Falls Moose. Senator O'Mara is a native of Chemung County, born and raised in Horseheads. He and his wife Marilyn currently reside in Big Flats. They have three children.
David McNally
Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy, New York State, AARP New York
David McNally is the Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy in New York State for AARP, the nation’s leading nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50 years of age and older have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. Mr. McNally works with AARP colleagues statewide, in Washington, DC and around the country to design and implement strategies to create positive social change among the Association’s priority issues, including health, financial security and consumer protections. He has led every state and federal legislative campaign for AARP in New York State, including successful efforts related to assisted living, complete streets, hearing aids, hunger, kincare, long-term care, Medicaid, Medicare, prescription drugs, predatory lending, Social Security and telemarketing fraud. Mr. McNally served on Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo’s Health Transition Team as well as the Medicaid Redesign Team Workgroup on Managed Long-Term Care. He has served as a member of the NY Connects Upstate Long-Term Care Advisory Council and is currently a member of the Adirondack Health Institute Leadership Council. He has been a guest lecturer and presenter on advocacy, organizing and issue campaigns at various universities as well as at the International Federation of Ageing Conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland. He is a frequent television, radio and print spokesperson for AARP on national and state issues. Mr. McNally is a recipient of the Lynn Bodiford Award, the Association’s highest recognition for excellence in advocacy. Prior to his appointment as Manager of Government Affairs and Advocacy in 2005, Mr. McNally served for 11 years as the lead grassroots organizer for AARP in New York State and its over 2.5 million members statewide. From 1986 to 1994, Mr. McNally served in a variety of communications positions with the New York State Assembly, including Public Affairs Director for Majority Leader James Tallon. Also from 1986 to 1994, Mr. McNally worked with the New York State Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and as a political consultant, managing state and local election campaigns. Mr. McNally is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and communications with a concentration in broadcasting.
Randall Hoak
Associate State Director for Engagement in Western NY, AARP
Randy Hoak has worked in Aging for over 20 years. After fifteen years of leadership roles in community services and long term care, Randy was tapped by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Senior Services, the Area Agency on Aging in Erie County. One of Randy’s first orders of business at Erie County was to bring Erie County to AARP’s Network of Age Friendly Communities. As Associate State Director – Community Outreach at AARP New York since 2016, Randy, with the assistance of many dedicated volunteers, works in Western and Central Upstate New York on regional initiatives, advocacy, and community engagement.

Opening Remarks and Introduction by Zach Williams, City & State NY


Welcome Remarks by Randall Hoak, Associate State Director for Engagement in Western NY, AARP New York



Senator Rachel May

Senator Thomas O'Mara

Assemblymember Marianne Buttenschon

Assemblymember Al Stirpe Jr.

Assemblymember Donna Lupardo

Assemblymember Robert Smullen

David McNally, Manager of Government Affairs & Advocacy, New York State, AARP New York


Closing Remarks by Randall Hoak, Associate State Director for Engagement in Western NY, AARP New York

Platinum Sponsors