‘We are owed better representation’

| 17 Aug 2023 | 12:41

    Recently, our sitting New York State Senator, James Skoufis, was invited to call in to a radio program hosted on WTBQ and WGHT. It’s not uncommon for the senator to call in to any of the programs hosted by the stations, but this particular instance garnered much attention and condemnation of Mr. Skoufis’ callous remarks that my cell phone was kept busy for quite a while.

    It should come as no surprise to anyone that I am taking the time to shine a light on the sitting Senator’s comments; after all, I ran against him in 2022 for the N.Y.S. Senate and intend to challenge him again in 2024. However, even I was shocked when James Skoufis referred to another radio show host as “undiagnosed bipolar” with a tone to his voice that clearly showed dislike for whom the comment was directed.

    Perhaps Mr. Skoufis is ignorant to the challenges that those who battle mental illness face, especially those with Bipolar Disorder.

    Perhaps he hasn’t had the opportunity during his decade long tenure as an elected official to talk with mental health professionals, families of those who suffer with not only the illness but also the stigma of it, or those who have traveled that road and now advocate for care and funding and treatment of mental illness.

    Perhaps the Senator doesn’t understand the correlation between Bipolar Disorder and drug addiction. Perhaps he fails to realize how just the stigma of mental illness impedes treatment.

    Any of those suggestions could explain James Skoufis’ insensitive remarks.

    When cautioned by the show’s host that his comments were uncalled for, did Senator Skoufis make amends, apologize for the unfortunate and unintended insult?

    Unfortunately, no, he did not.

    Rather he responded as a rebellious teenager would and stated that these were his opinions. That’s right, James Skoufis owned these comments on live radio.

    This is the person who just over half of the voters in Orange County chose to represent them in Albany. This is the person who was chosen to make decisions on how to spend billions of dollars of taxpayer money. This is the person who is disconnected from the people he represents and the challenges facing not only Orange County, but all of New York State.

    No wonder Albany continues to fail to meet the needs of New Yorkers.

    We deserve better. In the land of possibility, in what was once the economic capital of the world, we are owed better representation.

    Dorey Houle

    Councilwoman, Town of Monroe