Political Endorsements

Carl Marcellino. Photo by Alex Petroski

The 5th Senate District is one of the key battlegrounds where incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) is facing a challenge from Democrat, Northport attorney Jim Gaughran for the second time as the Republican Party tries to hold on to its razor-thin, one-vote majority in the state Senate. We endorse Sen. Carl Marcellino for his record and experience.

Two years ago, Marcellino clung onto his seat by edging out Gaughran by a mere 1,761 votes, or roughly 1.2 percent of the more than 145,000 ballots cast.

Since 2016, there have been extreme changes to the political landscape. President Donald Trump (R) took office. The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, put gun control back at the center of our attention. The parties have major differences in how to go about providing affordable access to health care insurance. Key legal decisions in Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari lawsuit against the Town of Huntington and Northport-East Northport school district have raised concerns about its potential impact if the utility company wins.

Keeping the 5th Senate District’s seat in the hands of Marcellino would be one step toward hopefully
ensuring the state government’s branches are balanced between the parties. We remember the lopsided policies, fraud and corruption that tend to occur when one party dominates.

However, doubts have been raised about Marcellino’s personal health. If you favor a younger representative with less experience but more spark, Gaughran offered intelligent ideas as to legislation he would pursue. 

Joan Cergol. Photo by Kyle Barr

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) may have nailed it when she said at the TBR News Media debate that “Huntington is a fantastic town going through some growing pains.”

Both Cergol and her opponent, Republican challenger Jim Leonick, agree that the Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari lawsuit against the Town of Huntington and development are key
issues the town will need to grapple with during the course of the next year.

Both agreed that the LIPA lawsuit needs to be thoroughly investigated and every possible stone turned over in looking for a solution. However, it is a problem bigger than any single board member. Whoever fills the seat will have a voice, and one of five votes on a highly divided council, in what happens to the future
development of Huntington.

Cergol, as the town’s former director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, comes with a lot of experience in this area and spoke of the necessity to strike a balance between smart growth, addressing housing needs and requiring developers to provide parking.

Leonick has campaigned against overdevelopment, but didn’t offer any original ideas. He decries the need for increased government transparency, as he did in his 2017 campaign, but only offered that he supported town forums.

We support Cergol on the fact she helps keep the town board politically balanced — it is currently made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent — while bringing a woman’s viewpoint and a wealth of background experience in community building.

We do think, if elected, she makes good on her and Leonick’s proposal of holding regular town hall forums.

Mike Fitzpatrick. Photo by Kyle Barr

While the TBR News Media staff fully believes in Democratic candidate Dave Morrissey’s genuine desire to tackle the ongoing opioid crisis, incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) gets our endorsement for the 8th District seat.

Although Morrissey has a number of good and far-reaching ideas to help those in the throes of addiction, the question of how the state will be able to enact those changes remains up in the air. While the goals of increasing access to medically assisted treatment and addiction shelters is something to strive for, the Democraticchallenger also lacks concrete ideas of what the state government should do when it comes to high taxes and keeping people on Long Island.

Fitzpatrick is right on the money when it comes to government employee benefits as those are changes that must be strived for if the state wishes to cut down on spending. While the Kings Park sewers have been held up by partisan wrangling, we do appreciate the assemblyman championing the effort in Albany.

Our endorsement comes with a caveat: During the TBR News Media debate the assemblyman startled us with his belief that the thousands of people currently heading to the U.S. in a caravan from Honduras are, in some way, funded by billionaire George Soros, who often funds left-leaning political campaigns and is a consistent target in conspiracy theories by far-right groups.

We strongly encourage Fitzpatrick — whom we have always thought of as sensible — not to believe this and other far-right wing narratives without unassailable proof, and he should continue to focus on championing real changes in state policy to benefit his constituents instead, as he always has.

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R). By Kyle Barr

While Democrat Greg Fischer has a lot of interesting ideas and enthusiasm, state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) made a point during their debate that his challenger’s goals are philosophical. While Fischer looks to create a brand-new transportation system for New York state to create jobs, LaValle is looking right in Long Island’s backyard and has already started the procedure to study the possibility of electrification of the Long Island Rail Road from Huntington to Port Jefferson.

LaValle said he believes “1st District first” when it comes to making decisions. His recent efforts led to securing $25 million in funds along with state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) for the initial phases for developing a new engineering building on the Stony Brook University campus. The move is to attract more engineering students to Long Island with the hopes they will remain and work in the area after graduating.

We believe that since being elected as state senator in 1976, LaValle has proven time and time again he has Long Island’s best interests in mind, works across party lines and gets the job done.

For New York State 1st Senate District, our endorsement goes to state Sen. Ken LaValle.

Smithtown Councilman Tom Lohmann. Photo by Kyle Barr

While we at TBR News Media do not believe that having a one-party rule is conducive to a truly transparent government, we do believe that Tom Lohmann (R) should retake the council seat he has occupied for the past 10 months.

Since he’s been in office, Lohmann has shown himself to be an efficient and dedicated public servant. The council member has proven to have engaged himself into the minutia of governmental activity, taking his role as liaison to several departments seriously. He has also been on the front lines of a number of issues, including town consolidation and revitalization. As a former member of the NYPD, Lohmann has also helped bridge the gap between the Suffolk County Police Department and the town by bringing in a representative from the department to speak about local crime issues.

We appreciate Amy Fortunato’s running, especially with her constant push for town revitalization, but Lohmann has proven to be much more knowledgeable of local issues.

We still admire Fortunato for her constant and fiery dedication to the town and its residents. She attends most, if not all, town board meetings where she is always willing to speak up and ask the tough questions, especially those concerning the town’s revitalization and budgetary efforts — two things that will be very important to keep an eye on going into next year. We ask that she remains a firebrand and watchdog in Smithtown for a long time.

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D). Photo by Kyle Barr

Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is there for his constituents. While he is a champion for the environment in New York state, he always keeps a foot in his district and has his mind on local issues.

When proposed plans by the federal government to drill in coastal waters threatened our local waterways, Englebright wasted no time in organizing hearings in Hauppauge that gave local residents, scientists and environmentalists the opportunity to present their concerns about drilling to legislators.

The fact that the assemblyman’s Republican opponent Christian Kalinowski declined to take part in the debate at our office and doesn’t even have a campaign website speaks volumes to us. The most important steps a budding politician can take is showing up and discussing the issues.

Englebright shows up and he has no problem discussing the issues, even reaching across party lines. “Parties are not the goal,” he said at our office. “Parties are the tool. The goal is always serve the people.”

The assemblyman told us his mission is to leave things better than how he found them, and we think he is accomplishing that goal in New York State’s 4th Assembly District. Elected 13 times as assemblyman and a Suffolk County legislator before that, he has proven time and time again he cares about the 4th District — but also just cares in general — and we support him for re-election.

State Sen. John Flanagan (R). Photo by Kyle Barr

While we agree with Democratic newcomer Kathleen Cleary that fresh blood is needed in the state Senate, incumbent John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has done a fine job in his 32-year political career and has been effective as a majority leader.

He has proven he can work with politicians from any party and is open to listen to experts in various fields. During the debate with his challenger at our office, with a few bills that have not passed on the Senate floor, he explained part of the holdup in passing legislation at times is more details have to be hammered out before a bill is finalized. He’s made it evident that he’s not willing to pass a bill that is
too broad.

One suggestion we have for Flanagan is to talk to more experts about marijuana. A subject that was touched on during the debate at our office was recreational marijuana. He called it a gateway drug, which many medical professionals now feel may not be the case.

While we felt Cleary is sincere in her pursuits, we wanted a bit more substance and detailed plans from her. What would be helpful to her and other newcomers to the political field, we feel, is getting experience in local government first before aiming for higher offices.

For New York State 2nd Senate District, our endorsement goes to state Sen. John Flanagan.

Andrew Raia. Photo by Alex Petroski

Incumbent state Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) identifies himself as a moderate Republican. His Democraticchallenger, Avrum Rosen, agreed he’s “fairly moderate compared to the rest of the Republican Party,” and we do too after listening to his ideas.

It’s refreshing to hear Raia stick to his principles on local issues that strongly affect his constituents. He drafted legislation in attempts to help provide funds to the Town of Huntington to offset a possible negative impact of the LIPA tax certiorari lawsuit and supports consideration to levying a carbon tax against the Northport Power Station. He stands by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in suing the federal government over tax reforms that eliminated state and local deductions that will financially hurt Long Island homeowners.

Yet Raia hasn’t taken up some of the polarizing views of the national Republican Party. He’s suggesting ways to expand health care in New York and claims his viewpoint “has evolved” over time favoring more gun control.

We commend Rosen for being well-educated on the issues facing the 12th district, both at the local and state level. His background in bankruptcy and tax law has led him to voice worthwhile ideas including a carbon tax against the Northport Power Station and offering state tax credits to those with student loans, for those entering STEM professions and those paying childcare costs.

If Raia wins, we hope he takes up Rosen’s tax credit ideas to help Long Island become a more affordable place to win.

As for Rosen, he’s one of the strongest political challengers we’ve seen this election season and hope to see again — maybe next time for another political office.

Steve Stern. Photo by Kyle Barr

Steve Stern (D) may not have held his New York State Assembly seat for very long, but TBR News Media sees that Stern is willing to give it his all, and in doing so receives our endorsement for the 10th Assembly District seat.

While we appreciate Jeremy Williams running for office at such a young age, he did not show up to speak at our annual candidate debate that was hosted for him and his opponent. We did not have the opportunity to hear if he had concrete plans for dealing with issues pertaining to the district.

Stern’s already laid a good groundwork and track record by helping to sponsor and pass six bills in the six weeks he had available after his special election and before the end of the legislative session. We hope that kind of get-up-and-go attitude continues into a full term, and that he makes good on his word to bring more funds to aid downtown revitalization efforts.

Stern describes himself a conservative Democrat, and we hope that can translate into bridging the gap between Democrats and Republicans in these politically dividing times.

Candidate Rona Smith debates her opponent for a New York State Assembly seat Anthony Palumbo at TBR News Media. Photo by Alex Petroski

People across the United States have been motivated to enter into politics and pursue government office for the first time in their lives during the current election cycle and the prior one in 2017. When asked, many of those candidates tend to cite the current state of things in national politics.

In the race to represent New York State’s 2nd Assembly District, candidate Rona Smith, a 73-year-old first-time candidate who serves as the Housing Advisory Commission chairwoman for the Town of Southold, is making her first run for office. We admire that someone would be inspired to make an effort at fostering greater good despite having carved out a nice living for herself and having nothing personally to gain from pursuing the seat.

This is not to say incumbent Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) doesn’t have his heart in the right place and hasn’t helped accomplish tangible things for the district, like co-sponsoring legislation for the state to acquire and preserve about 900 acres of green space in Shoreham.

Still, with a Democrat majority in the Assembly that is unlikely to go away any time soon, we would like to see Smith given a chance to bring some of her fresh ideas and tenacity to Albany to join a conference with the political clout to get tangible results locally and statewide.

Smith is educated, hard-working, has government experience in a critical area to the future prosperity of Long Island — namely affordability of housing.

We appreciate the years of dedicated service Palumbo has given the district, but we’ll be voting for Smith Nov. 6.

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