2016 Elections

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls at this point in the election cycle hardly guarantees victory. Image by Mike Sheinkopf
Hillary Clinton’s lead in the polls at this point in the election cycle hardly guarantees victory. Image by Mike Sheinkopf

By Dan Kerr

I did not vote for Donald Trump in the New York primary. His comments about women are loathsome, and I believe it is likely he kissed and groped women during his television career. However, his words and actions pale in comparison to how the Clintons have treated women throughout their careers.

Bill and Hillary Clinton represent what I call the Chappaquiddick wing of the Democratic Party. Under this umbrella, it does not matter how you treat women as long as you support abortion on demand and the appointment of liberal Supreme Court justices. For example, a senator from Massachusetts can leave a young woman to drown at the bottom of a pond, get re-elected, and go on to become “the Lion of the Senate.”

An attorney general from Arkansas can rape a nursing home executive, get elected governor and demand that a low-level state employee perform oral sex on him. The same sexual predator can then go on to become president, use a cigar to penetrate a young woman in the Oval Office, fondle and grope a recent widow who came to him for counsel, lie under oath in a sexual harassment case, get impeached and disbarred from practicing law in Arkansas and before the Supreme Court and go on to become “first gentleman.” It is also OK for Hillary to laugh as she won her first case in Arkansas, when she minimized the sentence of a 41-year-old man who so savagely raped a 12-year-old girl that she could never have children. If you are concerned about how to explain Donald Trump to your daughters, how will you explain the Clintons?

The Sunday New York Times included “I Live in a Lie: Saudi Women Speak Up.” It documents the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia. A March 8, 2015, New York Times article (“Hillary Clinton Faces Test of Record as Women’s Advocate”) disclosed that Saudi Arabia had given more than $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. While Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the State Department faulted Saudi Arabia for “a lack of equal rights for women and children,” and said “violence against women, human trafficking and gender discrimination, among other abuses, were all common there.” Apparently, the Chappaquiddick wing provides cover to “fight for women” while simultaneously collecting tens of millions from Saudi Arabia and the like-minded misogynist states of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Algeria and Brunei.

Today in The Hill, Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom (the man who headed the TWA 800 investigation) stated, “the Clinton’s are a crime family.” I am reminded of the climactic scene in “Godfather II” when Kate confronts Michael Corleone over her recent miscarriage. “Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn’t a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that’s unholy and evil … It was a son, Michael! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end!” For the good of this country, I believe the “unholy and evil” reign of the Clintons must end as well.

A few days before FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress, Kimberley Strassel wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “This is how the Clintons operate; they do not change. Anyone that pulls the lever for Mrs. Clinton takes responsibility for setting the nation up for all of the blatant corruption that will follow.” The Clintons are the greater of two evils.

Rich Macellaro, right, wants to unseat long term Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick, left. Photos by Donna Newman

Incumbent Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) will square off against Kings Park resident and Democrat Rich Macellaro on Election Day for the right to oversee the district that spans Smithtown Town and a portion of northern Islip. Macellaro has made unsuccessful bids for office, first in the Assembly in 2010 then for a Smithtown Town board seat in 2013. The two sat down for an interview in the TBR News Media main office.

During his 14 years in the Assembly, Fitzpatrick has sponsored legislation to establish a two percent property tax levy increase cap for school districts and to cap pensions for elected officials as a means to stave off financial hardships for the state. Macellaro prided himself on his work with civic and community organizations and projects in Smithtown, and his ability to bring a new set of eyes to a district in need of change.

“There are some storm clouds on the horizon. The lack of jobs, the lack of housing — I think the stress that life on Long Island puts on people, on families, maybe people are using as an outlet.”

— Mike Fitzpatrick

High property taxes and swollen government budgets have contributed to a litany of issues specific to the 8th district, but also to the region as a whole, according to Fitzpatrick. Some of those issues include a cost of living far higher than most of the nation, and fewer high paying local careers as an incentive to keep young people  here after graduation. He also suggested the community’s high rates of opioid- and heroin-related deaths could be a byproduct of the tough economic times in his district.

“There are some storm clouds on the horizon,” Fitzpatrick said. “The lack of jobs, the lack of housing — I think the stress that life on Long Island puts on people, on families, maybe people are using as an outlet. Obviously they are.”

Fitzpatrick was also involved in the passing of a series of bills earlier this year designed to combat addiction on the North Shore and beyond. As a result, insurers must cover the costs of life-saving Narcan to families with individuals suffering from substance abuse. Substance abusers are now offered 72 hours of emergency treatment, instead of 48 hours, so they can be stabilized and connected to longer-term addiction treatment options while also balancing the individual rights of the incapacitated individuals, among other benefits.

Macellaro said he believes penalties for dealers could be harsher, though it is not the only possible solution to the problem.

“We need to have increased penalties for drug traffickers and dealers, and we also need to get those folks who, unfortunately, for whatever reason, become addicted to opiates — we need to get them immediate rehabilitative services.”

“The two percent tax cap is great because it forced government into reducing their costs. We have to do anything possible to prevent any increase in property taxes.”

— Rich Macellaro

The Assemblyman said he believes in the “invisible hand” as a means of economic development, meaning government policies cause more harm than good in the private sector, and called the statewide START-UP NY stimulus program a failure.

“Government-directed economic development does not work,” he said.

Macellaro has a different, if outside-the-box, plan for economic development through a measure that would lower property taxes.

“I think now is the time to look at how we rein in the cost of providing education in Suffolk County and Nassau County, of which there are 124 school districts,” he said. “There are 13 towns in Nassau and Suffolk — three in Nassau, 10 in Suffolk. My proposal is simple: one school district per town. So from 124 school districts, we’ll get down to around 13.”

He said the idea would allow districts to pay for services like maintenance, athletic fields, security and even administrators in “bulk.” He strongly supported legislation to cap increases to property taxes.

“The two percent tax cap is great because it forced government into reducing their costs,” he said. “We have to do anything possible to prevent any increase in property taxes.”

Greg Fischer, left, and incumbent State Sen. Ken LaValle, right, will compete to represent New York’s 1st Senate District. Photos by Alex Petroski

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has been a New York State senator for nearly four decades, and although he’s joked about retirement, he doesn’t plan on vacating the position just yet. That won’t stop Democratic challenger Greg Fischer from trying to unseat him Nov. 8.

According to a 2015 New York Public Interest Research Group Report, LaValle was ranked second of 63 legislators in words said on the Senate floor, second in bill introduction, fourth in those that passed the senate and second in those that passed both houses.

“It’s a record of relevancy that I think is pretty good,” LaValle said in an interview at TBR News Media’s main office when the combatants sat down to discuss their campaigns.

LaValle said he’s excited for the chance to amend the East End’s Community Preservation Fund, which is responsible for the preservation of more than 3,000 acres of vacant land on Eastern Long Island and also improves parcels of historic, recreational and environmental value. He also noted the $400 million in construction going on at Stony Brook University Hospital that will produce jobs for doctors, clerks and others.

Fischer is a business consultant who has a passion for economics, he said, and he sees the economy as the “most important issue of our day, especially for the district.”

“We’re constantly on this treadmill of tax and spend, tax and spend,” he said. “And even though I’m a Democrat and you hear Democrats labeled for that, my background is in business and my background is to find the best value.”

The candidates are in support of the two percent tax levy increase cap for property owners as a means to curb government overspending, though Fischer said he isn’t sure the policy goes far enough. “It’s only applying the brakes gently — it’s not fixing the problem,” he said.

Fischer is running on the mantra: “It’s time for a turnaround.” His platform is about reform, which he said would be a product of his background. He’s not a lawyer like many other legislators.

Fischer said he thinks new blood and a democratic representative are needed to be able to better address not just the district’s issues, but statewide issues.

“There’s so much we can do, but we’re moving so slowly,” he said. “I think that’s the danger. We all know where we’re headed. People want to move out of state. Students want to be accepted out of state so they can stay out of state.”

To combat that mentality, LaValle said he’s been conducting research on millennials, regarding whether or not they want to be homebuyers or renters, or drive a car as their primary means of transportation. LaValle co-sponsored legislation to allow municipalities to continue tax exceptions for first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes as an incentive. He is also a supporter of New York State’s School Tax Relief Program, which lowers property taxes for owner-occupied primary residences. As chairman of the Higher Education Committee, LaValle said he’s also trying to address how to minimize millennial debt.

Fischer said he’s a proponent of free tuition for Suffolk County and New York State residents.

Fisher has run unsuccessful campaigns for Riverhead Town and local school board offices. He previously sued the Long Island Power Authority and conducted his own audits of Riverhead school district. More recently, he filed a lawsuit claiming Stony Brook University named its football stadium for LaValle after he secured $22 million in state funds for the venue’s construction, stating in his notice of claim that “It is ludicrous for sitting legislators (seeking re-election or otherwise) to have public structures named for them for the de facto benefit of their personal political careers.” Fischer asked LaValle’s name be removed from both the Nov. 8 ballot and the stadium. The arena was opened and named after LaValle in 2002.

Fischer said another issue he’d like to address is corruption in the courtroom, and added he’d like to see cameras allowed in state courtrooms.

“I think there needs to be more scrutiny of the judicial process,” he said. “We have a huge problem with corruption. There have been a lot of problems where the transcripts are changed after the fact, and things happen that are problematic.”

Fischer also said he believes legislation takes too long in New York, and cited response to the growing opioid abuse issue as an example. While LaValle said it’s his No. 1 priority — adding that many of his colleagues say the same — he believes increased penalties for dealers could put a dent in that problem.

Fischer said he understands enforcement sells, but added it’s only part of the solution.

“Of course we have to do some more enforcement, but it’s a mental health issue,” he said. “We have reasons for people doing these drugs — even in the suburbs — it’s despair. By the time you’re detecting use, you’ve already got a real problem going on. We have to have a whole new way of thinking about deterrence and really scaring children into the reality that, as a first use, you could have a dependency for life.”

Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick is the right choice for another term in the 8th Assembly District. File Photo
Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick is the right choice for another term in the 8th Assembly District. File Photo

When it comes to the 8th Assembly District, we believe incumbent Michael Fitzpatrick is the only choice.

Seeking his ninth term in office, Fitzpatrick has a clear understanding of what his constituents need and knows how to get it done. He has supported bills to curb the heroin problem facing thousands of North Shore residents, and for a two percent tax levy increase cap for school districts to limit spending. Fitzpatrick’s years of experience serving in the Assembly are also a plus for us, as he has the know how, and experience to create and pass new bills to help the district.

We appreciate Rich Macellaro dedicating his time to try and serve the public. When he sat down with us, his passion was clear, but we see Fitzpatrick as the stronger candidate.

Robert Murphy. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Robert Murphy (R) is the man with experience.

As interim highway superintendent for Smithtown, re-electing a candidate who has already gotten his feet wet — learning how the department operates and how best to allocate the budget — is in Smithtown’s best interest.

He’s proven to be the guy for the job, and can bring trust and confidence back following the communities concerns after former Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen (R) resigned.

Smithtown Supervisor Pat Vecchio (R) noted receiving more complimentary calls at the beginning of this year — with the handling of two snowstorms — than any other year.

Murphy is a lifelong resident of Smithtown, minus a 12-year stay in Arizona, so he’s familiar with the area and has almost 25 years of experience in the engineering field. Prior to being named the deputy highway superintendent in 2012, he spent two years as a capital projects manager for Suffolk County.

He believes in supporting an uptick in worker morale, bringing in jobs and projects to workers that will leave them with a sense of pride, and we applaud his efforts.

While his challenger, Democrat Justin Smiloff, is young and enthusiastic, he does not have the same set of skills. He has his own advantages, including his age, with ideas to modernize and upgrade the department, but we think Murphy is the right choice.

State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Truth be told, this was the most difficult endorsement decision we had to come to during this election cycle.

New York State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) is looking for his fourth term in office, and challenger Ed Perez (D) is a formidable opponent. In the end, we stand by Lupinacci. He has supported water quality legislation, heroin legislation and worked to increase financial aid opportunities for SUNY students. He is also still acutely aware of the local problems facing his area, like the rash of violent incidents Huntington Station has seen in the past few years. We believe Lupinacci will continue to have a positive impact on his district and will both draft and support bills that will improve the quality of life for his constituents.

We were almost swayed by Perez. He is exactly what a voter should want of a candidate: a resident who has lived in the area for many years, is deeply involved in local organizations and has a record of working to improve his community. Perez was also up to date on the issues facing the 10th district. We believe he has a very strong chance of winning another race — if he chooses to run again. In fact, we hope he does.

Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci, left, and Ed Perez, right, speak on the many issues facing Huntington Station and other areas of the 10th Assembly District. Photos by Donna Newman

Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) was first elected to represent New York’s 10th Assembly District in 2012, and Nov. 8 he’ll try for a third term against Democrat Ed Perez, a Huntington resident and a current member of the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

The two were interviewed at the TBR News Media main office ahead of Election Day to discuss the state of the 10th district, which covers in large part Huntington Town.

In addition to his duties with the board of elections, Perez is also the president of Diversity Resource Network, a marketing consulting organization. He identifies himself as a “social entrepreneur” because of his 25 years of experience in the nonprofit sector.

Lupinacci served on the school board of the South Huntington School district for eight years prior to his election in 2012. He’s a real estate attorney and an adjunct professor at Farmingdale State College, Hofstra University and St. Joseph’s College.

In his four years in the Assembly, Lupinacci has fought to cut taxes, make college more affordable and address the growing problem of addiction in the district. Perez has lived in the Huntington community for 23 years, and he said that has played a role in his desire to run.

“I care deeply about New York State and I care deeply about the Huntington community,” Perez said. He described some of the efforts he’d like to see to stimulate the district’s economy by upgrading the infrastructure in the community.

“We have a problem from Pulaski Road to Jericho Turnpike,” he said. “We have a strip there that has no sewers so that impedes development from investors to come in.”

Perez serves on the town’s zoning board of appeals.

“If we get the infrastructure of sewers going in, and it can be done in phases, we could get other types of businesses coming in,” he said. “Investors are not going to come in and invest in your community unless you have the sewers there.”

Lupinacci’s approach to stimulating the local economy focuses on higher education.

“A few years back we instituted a program that if you graduate in the top 20 percent of your high school class majoring in a STEM program, you can go to a SUNY or CUNY school for free as long as you’re staying five years in New York state afterwards,” the incumbent said. He said he’d like to see something similar done to funnel students toward community colleges. “We wanted to make sure that we would allow better tax credits for the students who are graduating and staying in New York afterwards because we want to give them an incentive to stay here.”

A central component of Lupinacci’s platform is to root out political corruption in the Assembly and across New York’s government. He helped to pass legislation to stop politicians found guilty of corruption from receiving taxpayer-funded pensions and said he plans to keep fighting in that direction.

“We need to make the Assembly more transparent in the coming years, and also limit outside income in terms of what legislators make,” Lupinacci said. He added he’d like to see Assembly committee meetings televised and term limits for all members.

The common ground in election oversight, and the claims of a “rigged” election made by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump were addressed by both candidates.

“It is not a rigged system,” Perez said. “Nobody wants to go to jail because they’re not doing the appropriate thing at the board of elections.”

Lupinacci wouldn’t support his party’s nominee’s claims of an unfair system.

“I think our board of elections workers are great people and they’re very good on Long Island, but there are problems some times when the elections are very close,” he said. “We do have recounts and such [when elections are close]. Do I think the election is rigged? No.”

Violence has become an issue at the forefront of daily life in the district. The incumbent discussed some of what he’s done to combat the issue and some of his future plans.

“We’ve been working along with [New York State Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosett)] and people in the community to increase cameras in the area, so not only in terms of actual police officers but more surveillance in the area to see what’s going on,” Lupinacci said. He added that community outreach programs and a stimulated economy could also help.

Perez commended Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) for increasing patrols by park rangers in town parks as a means to improve security in the community. He added that economic development and improvement of infrastructure could also help to reduce crime in the area.

“It’s about economic development and socioeconomic issues which makes kids sell drugs and get involved with gangs,” he said. “I think that looking at infrastructure is very important.”

Robert Murphy, left, looks to continue serving as Smithtown’s highway superintendent, while challenger Justin Smiloff, right, looks to replace him. Photos by Victoria Espinoza

Two candidates are vying to serve the unexpired term of former Smithtown Highway Superintendent Glenn Jorgensen (R), who resigned in October 2015 shortly before pleading guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges.

When the two candidates were interviewed together at the TBR News Media’s main office earlier this month, it seemed the battle lines were drawn according to age. Deputy Highway Supervisor Robert Murphy (R) has been the acting supervisor for almost a year, since the town board named him to replace Jorgensen. He is 53.

His Democratic challenger is lifelong Smithtown resident and attorney Justin Smiloff, who said he “doesn’t need the job, but wants it because he thinks he can make a difference.” In addition to a law degree, he has an undergraduate degree in accounting, which he said he would use to “see what I can do to get more for less.” He is 35.

Among the topics of contention was the restoration of free leaf bag distribution to residents. “The leaf bag program is beneficial to taxpayers,” Smiloff said, “and if cost is a problem, cuts should be made from other areas.”

Murphy said the last time leaf bags were distributed was 10 years ago, at a cost of $187,000.

“With the 2 percent cap Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) established, some services have had to be eliminated,” he said, adding he thinks the brown paper bags could be mulched with leaves and don’t serve their intended purpose if they’ve been sitting out in the rain.

Technology use in the Highway Department was also discussed. Smiloff said his youth is an advantage in that area. He wants to see a modern, user-friendly website and feels residents should be able to text message the department. In addition, he will look at technology used in other places. Murphy said he is already networking with other highway superintendents. The Town of Brookhaven’s Dan Losquadro (R) has shared information about geographic information system currently being used to identify potholes.

Another item of debate was the use of energy-efficient vehicles.

“If we reduce the cost for fuel, money could be used for more beneficial things to help residents,” Smiloff said. On this, Murphy was in agreement. However, with $800,000 a year you can buy only four trucks, he said, indicating it will take some time to achieve true energy efficiency.

Smiloff promises voters “a new day and a new start.”

“I would deliver for taxpayers in a manner they haven’t seen before,” he said. He believes a clean sweep is necessary for taxpayers’ peace of mind.

In contrast, Murphy said his experience is worth its weight in gold.

“I have over 30 years in the field — 20 years in the private sector and [about] 10 in public civil engineering — and I have been at the department for the last five years,” he said.

In the year he’s run the department, he said he’s seen where improvements need to be made. He noted that his morals and ethics have never been questioned, and he will make sure that everything is done legally.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s impressive track record makes him an easy choice to represent the 4th district. File photo
Assemblyman Steve Englebright’s impressive track record makes him an easy choice to represent the 4th district. File photo

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is the leading environmental voice in the Assembly, and with the climate of the country ever-changing, it’s a much needed one.

Englebright, who serves as chairman of the Committee of Environmental Conservation and also is on the Committee on Energy, among others, has fought for preservation with tree removal possibilities looming in Stony Brook, helped welcome a new trail hub in Rocky Point, secured funding for Mount Sinai’s Heritage Park and opposes dumping of dredged spoils in the Long Island Sound.

His work supporting planetary exploration at Stony Brook University, ensuring water quality and lowering the cases of whooping cough is also to be commended. He’s been a big supporter of the importance of local history and has celebrated the volunteer work of countless locals who fight to beautify their communities, educate others on the past and preserve what’s left.

While we believe his Republican challenger Steven Weissbard is passionate and enthusiastic, and has some good ideas — such as better ways to manage the construction on Route 347, he’s a climate-change denier.

Englebright is still currently working to halt dumping of toxic silt into the Long Island Sound and reducing nitrogen levels in our waters. We hope the assemblyman will continue to be a strong voice for his constituents on these issues and fight to make new plans to mend the issues.

The 12-time elected assemblyman, who was initially voted in during a special election in 1992, has continued to have the support of the 4th district. And we vigorously support him for re-election.

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), right, faces Steve Weissbard in the race for New York’s 4th Assembly District seat. Photos by Desirée Keegan

There were areas of agreement and points of sharp contrast between incumbent Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and challenger Steve Weissbard (R) when they sat down together at the TBR News Media main office to discuss their qualifications and plans for New York’s 4th Assembly District.

Route 347 and its ongoing reconstruction was high on the challenger’s list of important issues. The traffic and congestion are intolerable and detract from quality of life for area residents, and the redesign has been flawed, Weissbard said.

“New York is known as the least free state, the most regulated state, the highest tax rate state. We’re bleeding industry.”

— Steve Weissbard

“We need to get rid of the lights and add a third lane,” Weissbard said. “There should have been more overpasses.”

The incumbent said he is pleased with the changes to Route 347. Englebright noted the history of the road, which was originally supposed to be leg two of the Northern State Parkway extending all the way out to Orient.

“It never happened and we have a roadway that was confused by historical events,” he said. “The first proposals put forth by the [Department of Transportation] — going back more than a decade — would have recreated the Cross Bronx Expressway. Then Senator Jim Lack and I rejected those proposals and asked for something better. The something better is in the works.”

Weissbard has ideas for improving the state economy, which he said has been contracting for the last 40 years.

“New York is known as the least free state, the most regulated state, the highest tax rate state,” he said. “We’re bleeding industry.”

The answer, he added, quoting President Ronald Reagan, isn’t more government, but less government.

Englebright offered a different perspective.

“I can’t help but notice that the largest employer is government — and the largest entity, in fact, is in this district: the State University of New York — the largest employer in the bicounty region,” he said.

He argued that its presence has helped our community weather deep recessions that have affected other areas on Long Island much more profoundly.

On Common Core, however, they agreed completely.

“I think it undermines the fundamental relationship between teacher and student,” Weissbard said.

His Democratic counterpart was equally critical of the federal program.

“In the past, teaching was seen as an art,” Englebright said. “Now it’s trying to be seen as a quantifiable, robotic-like activity.”

“In the past, teaching was seen as an art. Now it’s trying to be seen as a quantifiable, robotic-like activity.”

— Steve Englebright

They both said they would like Common Core to be scrapped for a system that returns control to local school districts and teachers.

Englebright said he hopes voters will return him to Albany for a thirteenth term. He stands on his record of accomplishment on behalf of his constituents.

“I have made promises [in the past] and I have kept those promises,” he said.

Although his record on environmental issues gets lots of attention, he named other legislation that made him proudest.

“That the pertussis [whooping cough] legislation I sponsored with Dr. Shetal Shah has, according to his data, reduced the incidence of this killer childhood disease by at least 50 percent since the law’s passage in 2012,” he said.

Weissbard said he would like to bring a new perspective to the Assembly.

“As a county attorney, as a prosecutor, I’ve been in charge of both the juvenile drug court and, at times, the adult drug court, so I’ve seen the war on drugs on the Island at point blank range,” Weissbard said. “It’s a lot of first-hand knowledge that I would love to bring to the state level.”

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