Rhinebeck Man Launches Early Bid for State Senate
Rhinebeck’s Terry Gipson is unhappy with his state government, and in 2012, he’s hoping to be part of a change.
Gipson, a 48-year-old Democrat who currently serves as an elected official on the Village of Rhinebeck’s board of trustees, has launched an early bid for the 41st District of the New York State Senate, a seat that will not be up for grabs until November 2012.
“I’ve been a hard-working, middle-class taxpayer in New York State for over 16 years, and I’m just not happy with the return on my investment,” he said.
Being that the election is some 17 months in the future, Gipson does not know who his opponent will be, but at this point, he says he’s preparing to take on the incumbent, Sen. Stephen Saland, who has held the 41st District seat more than 20 years.
Gipson says he is getting an early start because he wants to meet the residents of the district, which covers all of Columbia County and most of Dutchess. He also needs to raise a good deal of money to run a successful campaign.
“You have to start early,” he says. Gipson says he has been traveling around the district for the last few weeks, meeting residents and hearing their concerns. He says the two things he continues to hear most are it’s too hard to find a decent job and taxes are too burdensome.
“All of that didn’t happen yesterday; it happened in the last 20 to 30 years,” he said, adding longtime incumbents like Saland have to take their share of the responsibility for that.
Gipson seems most concerned with the middle class, a group he says he is proud to be part of.
“The middle class is the moat that surrounds the castle,” he said. “We are the last line of defense.”
Gipson said he is afraid the middle class will slide into poverty if nothing is done. If that happens, he says, people will simply leave New York for states that can provide for their residents.
“If we can’t make a change, they’re going to leave,” he says. “When that happens, this state is finished.”
Gipson grew up in Texas, the son of a blue-collar farming family. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech and his master of fine arts degree from Penn State and says he paid for his education out of his own pocket.
Currently, he and his wife own Gipson Design Group, a small business based in Rhinebeck that specializes in set design. Over the six years he’s been in business, his company has picked up such big-name clients as Nickelodeon, Blackberry and MTV.
Gipson says the skills he has acquired through 25 years in the design business are applicable to the business of the Senate.
“People pay me to come up with creative solutions to problems they are having,” he said, adding he has been responsible for million-dollar budgets, has to use money efficiently, work under tight deadlines and work alongside a diverse clientele.
He also says his time on the village board, which is made up of two Democrats and three Republicans, has shown he is capable of working across the aisle.
“I have a good track record of quickly being able to find common ground,” he said.
Gipson also says he is fed up with corruption in New York State government, saying ethical behavior is in the minority in Albany.
He points out that lawyers are now getting rich defending the state’s corrupt politicians, saying, “Corruption is officially a growth industry in New York.”
He was also critical of Saland, the chairman of the Senate Codes Committee, for writing a letter in defense of former Sen. Vincent Leibell, who was found guilty of corruption charges, to the judge who would be sentencing him.
“How can you expect any change in Albany when the chair of the Codes Committee is writing letters in defense of a criminal?” Gipson said.
Gipson is married to wife Michelle Donner and does not have children. He has lived in the Village of Rhinebeck four years and in New York State for 16 years.
For more information on Gipson and his candidacy, visit www.getwithgip.com.