Running for county legislature
continued By the late 1980s, Baker became deeply routed in local government.
On running for county legislature
My mother told me, ‘Oh, don’t do that. Don’t get involved in politics. It’s a dirty game. And I said, ‘Mom, someone’s got to do it.’
“I said to myself, ‘I’m going to make this community better because I’m staying here and I’m not going away,’” she said. The incinerator was built in 1986, but the station is extensively monitored. Through her research and championing the cause to the planning and town boards, and to the county legislator, she became immersed in the political scene.
“I had some friends in the Democratic party, and they said, ‘Why don’t you run for legislator?’ I was like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’” she said. But the opportunity to run was a chance to put the environmental causes at the forefront.
“My mother told me, ‘Oh, don’t do that. Don’t get involved in politics. It’s a dirty game,’” Baker said. “And I said, ‘Mom, someone’s got to do it.’”
Her friends in the Democratic party promised her she wouldn’t win: the Republican to Democrat ratio was intense at three-to-one in the district.
Come election day 1989, Baker was elected to the county legislature, district No. 9, over the 12-year incumbent. Of more than 6,000 votes cast, she took the seat with just a 38-vote lead over her opponent.
“I spent 12 years in the legislature, and I always had the kitchen sink thrown at me,” she said. She continued to advocate for an environmentally sound community, working in a legislature with a Republican majority.
“I was the tree hugger in the legislature, but someone had to protect those trees,” she said.
Baker helped put in place a monitoring program for the incinerator, following through on her campaign goals.