At their swearing-in ceremony, state Sen. Joe Griffo and new Assembly member Marianne Buttenschon managed to avoid politically charged questions this morning. It helped that it’s only half way through the year studying New York state history and government at Staley Elementary School.
Buttenschon, a Democrat from Marcy elected in November to the 119th Assembly District, was sworn in by Family Court Judge Randal Caldwell on a Bible held by her son Jerrad Buttenschon, a kindergarten teacher at Staley, whose class got front-row seats in the school auditorium. The event provided a civics lesson for his class, though kindergartners typically don’t study New York history and government until at least third grade.
Griffo’s mother, Betty Griffo, held the Bible as the senator was sworn in for another term.
Griffo, a Republican from Rome, noted for the assembled fourth- fifth- and sixth-graders that all three branches of government were represented. He and Buttenschon are from the legislature, Caldwell is from the judicial branch, and the executive was represented by Rome Mayor Jacqueline Izzo, who fielded a question about lowering taxes. Staley principal Julie Kimmel-Gorman presided, with Rome City School District Superintendent Peter Blake joining in.
The national and state flags were presented by the Rome Free Academy Junior ROTC color guard, and the Star Spangled Banner sung by the Academy Singers. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Staley students Louisa Morgan and Juana Alvarado II.
Griffo told the assembled students he attended Staley and later RFA. He got the biggest response, however, when he noted that the laws that govern how many days a year the students go to school and how many hours they spend there are the purview of him and Buttenschon.
The state Legislature convenes in Albany on Wednesday.