By JAIME STUDD
Recorder News Staff
JOHNSTOWN -- Democratic U.S. Reps. Paul Tonko and Bill Owens made their way through the Glove Cities Wednesday, an area that will get a new congressman in January.
Tonko, of Amsterdam, and Owens, of Plattsburgh, took a tour of the Johnstown-based Electro-Metrics, which designs and produces antennas, sensors and broadband technology systems, before making their way up the Route 30A corridor to Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home in Gloversville.
Johnstown and Gloversville are among a number of communities throughout the state whose representation in Congress is being altered by this year's redistricting efforts.
The only two cities in Fulton County -- along with the town of Johnstown -- are currently included in the state's 21st Congressional District, represented by Tonko.
Come January, however, Johnstown and Gloversville will join the rest of Fulton County, along with all or part of 11 other North Country counties, in a brand new 21st Congressional District, the majority of which is included in the current 23rd Congressional District represented by Owens.
Tonko is campaigning to hold his seat in Congress as the representative from what will be the newly created 20th Congressional District, which will include all of Albany and Schenectady counties, along with portions of Saratoga, Montgomery and Rensselaer counties.
Tonko said the afternoon was a bittersweet one of sorts. Though he regretted not having the opportunity to continue representing the cities, Tonko said he was confident about the man in whose hands he hoped to be leaving it.
"I've enjoyed representing Fulton County. This is a way for me to say thank you," Tonko said, adding that he believed "thoughtfulness, sound reasoning and sincere advocacy" to be hallmarks of Owens' leadership abilities, all qualities critical, Tonko said, to effective representation.
Owens said the afternoon's events were also significant in that they were a manifestation of the strong partnership shared by the two men in their efforts to advocate for area residents.
"It also demonstrates the way that we've worked together to represent the people in Congress," Owens said.
At Electro-Metrics, located in the Johnstown Industrial Park, the pair were greeted by the company's vice-president, Paul Sikora, who painted for them a somewhat dismal picture of the state of economic development and enterprise in the park.
"It's getting awfully deserted in here," Sikora said of the park, citing maintenance and infrastructure issues as reasons behind the departure of many of the park's former inhabitants.
Sikora said his company, too, has considered moving elsewhere because the building is no longer suitable for the company's growing needs.
"We're fine here for now, but it's not ideal for us," Sikora said.
Both congressman spent much of the hour-long meeting attempting to learn as much as they could about Electro-Metrics, its needs and the opportunities companies like Sikora's could provide the area and it's residents.
Just up the road, at Nathan Littauer Hospital, Tonko and Owens toured the facility's newly renovated emergency room and radiology department. Local media were barred from taking part in the tour.
Tonko said he came away with a "favorable" impression of the hospital, adding that the renovations and advances in technology being employed at the site serve to "strengthen" the quality of care provided.
Tonko added that it was also nice to see the results of the substantial investment recently made in the facility, the result of grant funding that he advocated for.
Owens said the now state-of-the-art facility will help drive economic development in the area by assuring potential businesses owners that both they, their employees and their families will have access to quality, affordable health care should they choose to establish themselves in Fulton County.