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PLATTSBURGH — Local state representatives hope the conviction of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno on two counts of felony corruption could change how politics works in the state's capital.
"This is just a perfect example of why we need to have serious ethics reform in Albany," Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) said Monday.
"They have been nibbling around the edges of ethics reform, but we haven't done anything that I would consider ethics reform.
"I believe we need to prohibit legislature members from holding other jobs.
"When you are in a position of power, which (Bruno) really was as the leader of the highest house in New York, if you make a suggestion to someone, how can you not sway people? Because of that position you hold, I think when you speak or make a recommendation, people listen.
"We are there to do the people's business, and that is what we should be doing."
Sayward is hopeful that Bruno's conviction will change things in Albany.
"In a lot of sense, Joe has been singled out. I think this story that we've been watching could probably be told over and over. There seemed to be a little rift between past Gov. Eliot Spitzer and Bruno. It makes one wonder if (Bruno) was singled out."
Sayward referred to the case of former Queens assemblyman Tony Seminerio, who pleaded guilty in June to selling his services as a legislator and resigned the same week.
"I'm not saying what happened (with Bruno) wasn't wrong," Sayward said. "I am just saying that this story could probably be played out over and over."
Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury), who testified in Bruno's trial in November, said she and Bruno both grew up in Glens Falls, and she knew his family.
"In my time in the legislature, (Bruno) has always been supportive of the issues in my district," she said Monday.
Little doesn't think her testimony, which focused on Local 773 of the Plumbers & Steamfitters union based in South Glens Falls, contributed to the jury's decision.
"I testified as honestly and completely as possible and provided the most accurate answers as I could. It doesn't appear that any of my testimony was a factor or led to guilty verdicts."
Little agrees that Bruno's case is a reminder that Albany needs change.
"We need to pass all sorts of reform, including ethics and campaign-finance reform. Between the two parties, we need to find something that can be agreeable to all sides and not be partisan.
"We really need to work together and come up with a piece of legislation that would make all of this — all that we do — more transparent to the public."