Stephen Hodge named Delaware County Democrat of the Year
By Cheryl Petersen
With a special appearance by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, the Delaware County Democratic Dinner afforded a lively evening for the party faithful from around the county Saturday evening. The line-up of speakers included Stephen Hodge, Democrat of the Year, and keynote speaker, Democratic Congressional candidate, Sean Eldridge.
Stephen, or Steve, Hodge grew up on a farm in Trout Creek. “I have one brother and one sister,” said Hodge. After serving active duty in the Army for three years, Hodge returned to Delaware County to marry Lois, raise three children, and be a mechanic.
“I learned the mechanic skill while in the Army,” said Hodge. “After the Army, I worked for other companies until I started my own mechanic shop, Hodge’s Outdoor Power Equipment, in 1987,” said Hodge, who is also a 42-year member of the Walton Fire Department.
“In the 1990s, the local Democrat Committee asked me to run for a town board council position and I served on the council for two elected terms,” said Hodge. “I ran for a third term but lost. Then I was appointed to serve on the Walton Board of Appeals.”
Hodge joined the Town of Walton Democratic Committee and soon became chair. Also a member of the Delaware County Democratic Committee, Hodge became dependable at the County Fair Democratic booth. “Because I live in Walton, I can help set up the booth, work a shift, and then make sure the booth is well stocked,” said Hodge.
The right qualities
Steve Hodge designed the cover of the Democratic Dinner program, highlighting the qualities which Democrats Support: science, civil liberties, world peace, equal justice, environment, retirement security, jobs, and education.
New York Comptroller Tom DiNapoli spoke on behalf of the Comptroller’s Office, saying, “We distributed $9 billion in benefits last year with 80 percent of that money staying in New York.”
Looking to reduce the contribution rate paid into pension plans in the near future, DiNapoli added, “The New York State budget is in the best shape ever. There is $176 billion in secure pension plans.”
“We are not afraid to uncover fraud, waste, and abuse,” said DiNapoli. “We will be vigilant. Voters will also need to be vigilant in getting to the polls this fall. Bad things happen when good people don’t vote.”
“The Congressional race is hot, hot, hot,” said DiNapoli. “I’ve watched Sean Eldridge on the trail and believe he’s done a lot. Though he’s young, he is powerfully suited for the job of Congressman.”
Congressional candidate for the New York State 19 District, Sean Eldridge said, “I aim to cut through the noise and stop the gridlock in Washington.” Eldridge is running against incumbent, Congressman Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
“I will fight for equal pay and a raised minimum wage,” said Eldridge who has also worked with Planned Parenthood to protect women’s access to health care. In 2011, Eldridge, a graduate of Brown University, dropped out of Columbia Law School to advocate and lead the fight for marriage equality in New York. Eldridge noted, “As a candidate, I am not accepting corporate financing.” Eldridge opposes hydro-fracking.