Orange County Democratic Convention delegates rallied behind Sarita Bhandarkar last Wednesday, Feb. 19, endorsing her as the Democratic candidate for the 99th State Assembly district.
The 99th Assembly district includes the towns of Woodbury, Highlands, Cornwall, New Windsor, Blooming Grove, Hamptonburgh, Chester, Goshen and Wawayanda as well as the town of Stony Point in Rockland County, and was formerly represented by James Skoufis.
The seat is held by Colin Schmitt, the first-term Republican Assemblyman from New Windsor.
Born and raised in Orange County, Bhandarkar came home in 2008 after starting her legal career in Manhattan. Since then, she has been working as an attorney in the Hudson Valley, focusing her practice on estate planning, elder law, Medicaid planning and special needs planning.
She worked in private practice before opening her own office, Bhandarkar Law, P.C., in Cornwall in 2018.
In addition to her work, Bhandarkarhas volunteered with various area nonprofits over the years, including Leadership Orange, the Community Foundation’s Professional Advisors Council, the Hudson Valley Estate Planning Council, Arc of Orange County, Habitat for Humanity, the Dispute Resolution Center and Girls on the Run.
Bhandarkar told a packed crowd at the Wallkill Community Center that she felt compelled to run because residents of the 99th district have not had a real advocate with real experience working on their behalf since James Skoufis left the Assembly to become state senator.
At the convention, Bhandarkar described herself as a pragmatist, not a partisan.
“Both as an attorney and as a community volunteer, I have learned to work effectively with and on behalf of people who do not always think, believe, act, or look like I do," the candidate said. "What I bring to the table is a willingness and an ability to communicate and collaborate with others. Those skills have driven my real-world accomplishments in law and in starting my own business.
"I truly believe by working together here and in Albany," Bhandarkar added, "we can improve the quality of life in Orange County for ourselves and our neighbors, whether they are red, blue, or in between."