ALBANY-Although receiving only a small fraction of the recent media buzz, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Greenport) has been selected by Governor David Paterson to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated upon Hillary Clinton's appointment as Secretary of State within the Obama Administration.
Gillibrand has just begun her second term in congress and has sky-rocketed up the political hierarchy with an assertive agenda that has focused on veteran's issues and high-tech development in the Upstate New York region.
"It is such an honor to even be considered for the seat," Gillibrand said in a recent interview. "If we continue with progressive policy focused on eco-friendly jobs, economic growth in the Adirondacks will follow."
In a highly competitive contest for the senate seat which has been held historically by political icons like Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, Paterson maintained a thorough selection process.
"The selection was not based on gender or geographic location," Paterson said during the appointment announcement Friday. "Kirsten immediately introduced aggressive legislation regarding child tax credits and veteran health care early in her first term."
Although Paterson's claim that geographic location was a non-factor, the interplay between the numerous cultural regions of New York State was frequently referenced by Gillibrand throughout her acceptance speech.
"From the dairy farmers in the western part of the state to the stock brokers in New York City--I want to know you all," she said.
Gillibrand said that she will continue to pursue funding for high speed light rail development in the Upstate region.
"People need to get to work and up here it often requires long drives," Gillibrand said in an interview last month.
Her plan for an Upstate light rail triangular corridor was one of her focuses as she accepted the gubernatorial appointment.
She noted the innate cultural divergence that is present within a state comprised of a huge metropolis and a large rural Upstate region.
"I will look for ways to find common ground between upstate and downstate," Gillibrand said. "We must reduce gun violence while maintaining hunter's rights."
In her acceptance speech, Gillibrand also focused on middle class tax relief, early childhood education funding and of course her hallmark atypical definition of infrastructure.
"I came to define infrastructure in such a way to include broadband access and information technology in rural areas after consulting with numerous local officials," Gillibrand said recently.
Gillibrand said that along with the Obama Administration, she will work to pass a broad economic stimulus package. Further, she said she will continue to pursue her trademark social justice campaigns which include marriage equality for homosexuals and women's rights.
Gillibrand has requested to be appointed to the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Agriculture Committee, she said. As a member of congress, she served on these committees in the lower house.
The appointment follows Caroline Kennedy's withdrawal from consideration this past Wednesday.
Gillibrand is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition and generally labeled as a centrist Democrat who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
This fact has apparently caused intra-party controversy with some Downstate New York Democratic Representatives boycotting the ceremony according to AP reports.
"I believe I have found the best person to fill this seat for all New Yorker's," Paterson said.
Not surprisingly her staff agrees with the Governor's assessment.
"She is such an amazing woman," said Gillibrand's Communications Director Rachel McEneny. "She is able to maintain her vigorous work schedule while taking time to be an amazing mom too."
Gillibrand has two young children, one of whom was born while she was in office.
For her part, Gillibrand remains focused.
"I realize this is the first time many of you have heard my name-you will get to know me and I you over the next two years," she said in her acceptance address. "This is the fulfillment of not only my dream, but of those who have came before me."
Gillibrand will officially take office on Tuesday and will hold the seat until a special election is held in November of 2010. An election to fill the now vacant 20th Congressional seat will be held at the governor's discretion.