ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – For the better part of four decades, Barbara Bartoletti has worked tirelessly as a volunteer to hold state lawmakers accountable, keep voters informed, and get some historic legislation, passed along the way as well.
In today’s climate of bitter partisan politics, Bartoletti wants us to remember one thing.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport.”
Bartoletti has lived and breathed that mantra since she attended her first meeting of The League of Women voters in 1978 at the urging of her neighbor.
“I sat there and I listened to these women and I thought, oh my god! Oh my god! They know everything. I was hooked!”
She quickly became the league’s legislative director and a force to be reckoned with in Albany.
“She’s a part of the culture here in Albany,” Assemblyman John McDonald (D) said. “As much as she’s now technically retired, I don’t think she’s going away by any stretch of the imagination.”
Bartoletti spent the better part of the last 40 years working to hold lawmakers accountable and more importantly, educating voters.
“Oh for heaven’s sake, be involved in your government. It isn’t someone else’s government. It’s not this entity that’s imposing. If you get involved then you can actually impact what this government does.”
“She really focuses on the most important thing. Be active and participate in government one way or the other,” Assemblyman McDonald said.
Her biggest accomplishment, one she’ll never fully accept credit for, was taking on some major special interests and getting New York’s Clean Indoor Air Act passed.
“It took us about six years really focusing on this one issue. The 2.0 of the act was ban tobacco from bars and restaurants. That was what I thought, and many others on the coalition thought, would really break the back of the tobacco companies here in New York and it did.”