ALBANY — State Senator Catharine Young, who represented Allegany County and portions of Livingston County since 2005, resigned Thursday in Albany.
Young (R,C,I-Olean) is leaving politics to take a leadership position at the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech.
“Farming and food manufacturing always have been the bread and butter of our region. To grow New York’s food, beverage and agriculture economy by linking them with the incredible innovation, expertise and resources at Cornell AgriTech so they can expand and flourish is a natural extension of my work that I have done as a Senator,” Young said in a statement. “We have many outstanding food manufacturers in our region that I have helped grow over the years, and I will continue to work hard to expand all of New York State agriculture economy.”
The 57th District includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and half of Livingston counties.
“Leaving my job in the Senate – a job that I love – has not been an easy decision and it is bittersweet,” Young stated. “I have put my energy, heart and soul into working hard for my district and getting results, and as I travel throughout the region from Ripley to Livonia and everywhere in between, the progress we have made is visible.”
Young was first elected to the state Senate in a 2005 special election. She previously served in the State Assembly from 1999 to 2005, where she held several top leadership positions. Young made history in the state Senate, becoming the first woman named Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance in January 2016.
Her standing in Albany helped her aid constituents in countless ways during her tenure. Young’s impact on Allegany County is ubiquitous. Thursday, Wellsville and Genesee Valley schools hosted Olympian Shannon Miller as part of the county’s Women’s Health Initiative, funded through a $250,000 state grant. On Monday, the Village of Wellsville closed out the Madison Creek Culvert Project, with Mayor Randy Shayler crediting Young’s aid in securing funding. Young also helped facilitate the project at 23 North Main, a major public/private partnership that is renovating the former Burrous Building.
“There is no greater privilege than to help others, whether it is comforting and finding aid for those whose homes and businesses were ravaged by flood waters, ensuring that a toddler with a brain tumor received the medical expertise and treatment that she needed, or pinning a long overdue medal on a veteran’s chest – these are the experiences that have given me so much and enriched my life,” Young said. “I have met so many wonderful people along the way and have developed friendships that I treasure. Our brave firefighters and first responders who save property and lives, veterans who have given their all to protect our freedom, outstanding law enforcement who put our safety ahead of theirs, senior citizens who have life experiences that provide lessons for us all, health care workers who provide excellent care, teachers who make sure our children have the best learning opportunities, captains of industry who invest in our economy, small business owners and farmers who are the backbone of our region, citizens who work hard every day, volunteers who are committed to helping others, elected officials who are making their communities the best they can be – the people in my district are phenomenal and they make me very proud.
“It has been a tremendous honor that they have shared their joys and sorrows, tribulations and successes, and hopes and dreams with me, and I am eternally grateful to have had their faith and trust.”
However, many speculated Young’s active role in Albany may have also played a part in her resignation. Young recently lost her leadership positions following a power struggle with Sen. John Flanagan of Suffolk County, who ultimately prevailed in a fight for the Senator Minority Leader position. Young said that fight didn’t factor into her decision to step down just two months into the new legislative session in Albany.
Regardless, Young now returns to her roots in agriculture. Young grew up on a farm in Avon in Livingston County, watching her father serve in various elected capacities in the county while her mother volunteers in the community. Young indicated that accepting the position at Cornell was coming full circle.
“Cornell University holds special and personal significance to my family and to me,” she said. “My grandparents toiled and struggled during the great Depression, raising four children on the farm in the hardest of times. In spite of tremendous adversity, they made sure that each of their children focused on getting a good education so that they would have better lives. In 1949, my father went off to Cornell University, and he and his siblings were the first generation in our family to graduate from college.
“My Dad not only showed through his example the vital importance of tenacity and hard work, but he also instilled in me a deep admiration for Cornell.”