State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine was a dairy farmer for more than 35 years in his hometown, Cape Vincent, New York, before serving in state government. He was elected to the state Senate in a special election in February 2008. The people of the 48th Senate District (Oswego, Jefferson and part of St. Lawrence counties) re-elected him in the fall of 2008 to serve a full term. He is the only farmer serving in the New York State Legislature.
He is currently chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, the Legislative Commission on Water Resources for New YorkState and Long Island, and the Senate Majority's Upstate Caucus. He is Ranking Majority Member of the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee.
Prior to joining the Senate, he was elected three times beginning in 2002 to serve in the state Assembly representing the 118th or "River" District, which runs from Watertown to Massena along the St. Lawrence River. Senator Aubertine has built a reputation over the years as a legislator who understands on a personal level the issues people face every day, puts people ahead of politics and works across party lines to get results for his constituents.
Born June 3, 1953 to Paul J. and Hazel "Peggy" Aubertine in Cape Vincent, Senator Aubertine grew up with two sisters. Before he had graduated high school he owned his own plot of land, which he farmed with his father and uncle. In 1977, Senator Aubertine married his wife Margaret and together they have raised three children: Erin, Paul and Timothy. He gave up milking cows to serve in the Assembly, but continues to raise animals and grow crops on his sixth generation heritage farm known as "Triple-A Farm" along Favret Road.
Senator Aubertine has brought his experience on the farm and knowledge of agriculture to state government. In the Assembly, he served on the Agriculture Committee and quickly made a name for himself as a strong advocate for farmers. In his first year in office, he won vast bi-partisan support to pass legislation in the Senate and Assembly that would have protected domestic milk producers by preventing products with milk protein concentrates or MPCs such as caseins—often imported milk derivatives used in some cases to make glue—from being considered "dairy" in New York. The next year the governor signed an amended bill with similar intentions that requires products sold in this state be labeled to show if they contain MPCs and caseins.
In January 2009, Senator Aubertine was chosen to chair the Senate Agriculture committee. He remains committed to helping farmers improve and protect their ability to be profitable. He continues to fight for labeling that helps consumers know when a product is imported and when it is locally grown here in New York State. He’s working to reduce the cost of doing business for our farmers, help farmers market their products throughout the state and country, and make sure that the healthy food we grow and produce in New York is on our children’s plates. He is committed to raising the profile of New York’s multi-billion agriculture industry as a driving force in our state’s economy.
In May 2009, Senator Aubertine was chosen to also lead the Senate Energy & Telecommunications Committee, another key area of interest for Central and Northern New York, which the Senator refers to as New York's "Energy Backyard." The region is home to many power generating facilities, including two nuclear facilities in Oswego County and the Moses-Saunders Hydropower Dam in Massena. As a member of the Assembly, he served more than five years on the energy committee and in his role as chair of the Senate Committee, has worked to create and preserve jobs, lower energy costs and encourage development of renewable energy sources.
In January 2010, the Senator chose to demonstrate his commitment to bipartisanship by taking a new role as Ranking Majority Member of the Energy Committee, giving the chair to his Republican colleague from Western New York.
The Senator understands good paying jobs in Central and Northern New York is a top priority. He was instrumental in negotiating a deal to provide low cost power to Alcoa in Massena in exchange for a $600 million investment and the preservation of 900 jobs for 25 years. In the Assembly, he passed legislation to protect power generated at the New York Power Authority’s Moses-Saunders Hydro-power Dam for use in the region.
The Senator has pushed for reforms that would hold companies accountable for shipping our jobs overseas and he is working to bring the green jobs of the future to Central and Northern New York, where studies have shown we are poised to be a leading producer of environmentally sustainable products and alternative energy—including nuclear, biofuels, solar, wind and hydro. In his dual role as chair of both the Agriculture and Energy committees, the Senator has highlighted the role farms will play in our energy future.
In September 2009, the Senator and 51 colleagues from both political parties, voted to pass the Green Jobs/Green New York Act, which will create a revolving loan fund to provide funding for capital improvements to homes and businesses that will improve effiiciency and conserve energy largely by keeping the cold air out in the winter and in during the summer months.The bill is expected to create between 5,000 and 15,000 new jobs and cut energy bills so substantially, the savings will exceed the cost of repaying the loan, giving homeowners and small businesses the opportunity to cut energy costs.
Senator Aubertine also serves on five more Senate committees, each of which are vitally relevant to Central and Northern New York, and take into account his experience. Senator Aubertine is a member of the Senate committees on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business; Crime Victims, Crime and Correction; Higher Education; Transportation; and Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.
Senator Aubertine has been an advocate for our schools and colleges, working to bring in much needed aid and capital funding to make substantial campus improvements at our SUNY schools. He has spoken out about the value of institutes for higher education as a vital part of economic development. He strives to help our colleges and universities develop innovation that will lead to businesses positioned to expand and keep our young people close to home.
At the heart of the 48th Senate District is Fort Drum, home of our nation’s most deployed military command, the 10th Mountain Division. Senator Aubertine has shown his support for our troops through his relationship with the military base and his dedication to assisting our veterans. As the ranking member of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee in his first Senate term, he pushed for improvements to the delivery of services for veterans and secured funding to help develop housing for soldiers stationed at the base.
As a lifelong hunter and fisherman, Senator Aubertine has been an advocate for sportsmen. All in his first year as a Senator, he was recognized by the New York State Snowmobile Association for his work restoring a $1 million sweep in the 2008 budget, helped re-open trails in Winona Forest, and helped protect the Reynolds Game Farm for pheasants from closure.
In July 2008, Senator Aubertine was pleased to see several years’ of work culminate in the signing of the Junior Hunter Mentoring Bill, which authorizes 14- and 15-year olds to hunt big game with a firearm when accompanied by an adult. The Senator built bipartisan support for this bill, earning its passage in the Assembly and near unanimous support in the Senate. This new law has sparked renewed interest in deer and bear hunting among a younger generation contributing to an increase in the sale of hunting licenses statewide.
The Senator began serving in elected office in 1994 as a member of the Cape Vincent Town Council. In the following year, he ran to represent District 1 (Cape Vincent and Clayton) on Jefferson County’s newly formed Legislature and won his first of three two-year terms.
In 1998, his second term, he was selected to be its chair, though he was one of only three Democrats on the 15-member board and became the first Democrat to serve as chair in the county’s history. In November of 2002, after a year away from elected office, the people of the 118th Assembly District chose him to represent their interests in Albany. He was the first Democrat in the Assembly to represent constituents from St. Lawrence County since 1976 and the first to represent people in Jefferson County since 1910.
The February 26, 2008 special election in which the voters chose Senator Aubertine to represent Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties in the Senate marked the first time since 1880 that these counties had a Democrat represent them. His re-election in the fall helped the Senate Democrats take the majority, giving the Senator an opportunity to serve as part of the leadership team.
Though his career has been groundbreaking for the Democratic Party, Senator Aubertine has always said that "a good idea is never a Republican or Democrat idea. It’s a good idea. And a constituent’s concern is never the concern of a Republican or a Democrat. It is a constituent’s concern." Because of this belief, the Senator remains committed to working across party lines to serve the people he represents.
Standing Committee Assignments 2009: Agriculture (Chair); Commerce, Economic Development & Small Business; Crime Victims, Crime & Correction; Energy & Telecommunications (Ranking Majority Member); Higher Education; Transportation; Veterans, Homeland Security & Military Affairs