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  • Writer's pictureTommy Zurhellen

A Year of Firsts

Monday, October 9th

Dear Friends:

We’re getting down to the wire! With less than three weeks until the start of early voting, if you’re not fired up by now, you’d better check your pulse. Even so, I still meet folks on the campaign trail who say, “Why should I vote this year? I don’t see how my vote matters in an off-election.” They tell me voting is probably the last thing on their minds in an “off year” when our heroes like Pat Ryan and Michelle Hinchey aren’t on the ballot.

Off election? Off year? No way. This is going to be a historic election. And I’m here to tell you this is going to be an incredible Year of Firsts for Dutchess County.

When we elect Kenya Gadsden as our next County Clerk, she will be the first Black woman ever elected to that position. Kenya believes the Clerk’s office is the front door to our county, and she wants to make sure that door welcomes all people. Think about Kenya’s brilliant leadership, and then tell me if your vote matters this year.

When we elect Yvonne Flowers as the next Mayor of Poughkeepsie, she will be the first Black woman elected to that position since the city was created in 1854. Talk about being a part of American history! Think about Yvonne’s commitment to bring real change to Poughkeepsie, and then tell me if your vote matters this year.

When we elect Anthony Parisi as our next District Attorney, he will be the first Democrat and the first person not named Bill Grady to run that office for the past 40 years. That’s incredible. Imagine the integrity and fairness Anthony will bring to our county’s approach to law enforcement, and then tell me if your vote matters this year.

When we re-elect Yvette Valdés Smith to the Dutchess County Legislature and she becomes the Majority Leader, she will be the first Latina ever to hold that position. Fifteen percent of our county population identifies as Latino according to the most recent U.S. Census. Picture Yvette’s leadership in the Legislature and her compassion for all people who live here, and then tell me if you still believe your vote doesn’t matter.

So many other local candidates from Pawling to Pine Plains will celebrate their Firsts, too, in so many different ways. But the best part? All these Firsts are entirely possible this year. This is no pipe dream, people. We have the momentum, and real change is within our reach if we just work together to get out the vote.

If we turn out, we win. If we don’t turn out, we lose. Yes, it’s that simple.

Thankfully, 2023 will be a Year of Lasts, as well. This will be the last year we have to put up with the backroom deals and the fear-mongering. This will be the last time we have to deal with county leaders who put corporations above our kids. And come Election Day, we can finally say goodbye to the photo-op politicians and old-boy network that have controlled Dutchess for 32 years now. In their place, we will have true public servants who want to do the work. (What a concept!)

With so much at stake this year, we need your courage and hard work to make this dream a reality. Help us knock on doors! Talk to your neighbors and tell them this year the “D” stands for Decency! Attend local candidate events and lend these heroes your talents and energy! We can all do something to make this Year of Firsts a reality. Who knows, maybe you will have your Year of Firsts by doing more than ever before to enact real change in our county. I salute you!

We need your help to keep our campaign going strong right up to Election Day on November 7th. If you are able, please donate in any amount using the secure Act Blue link below. This is the most critical time for funds, and we need your support more than ever. Thank you for your support!

I would like to thank all my fellow candidates who have stepped up to make 2023 a true Year of Firsts in our county. Your courage and determination are so vital to finally making Dutchess a place where everyone has access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I can’t wait to celebrate with you when all the votes are counted before we all get to work.

And thank you, for listening! See you next time – but not for the last time!

Respectfully, Tommy


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