Politics

File photo

With the 2018 midterm elections over, both New York State and the U.S. as a whole saw a major upset. Despite local leaders like U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) keeping their seats, both the state Senate and U.S. House of Representatives flipped over to the Democratic Party after years of Republican majority control.

They have forgotten about ‘We the People,’ and now it’s all about themselves.”

— Rich Jiranek

Despite these changes, many local residents said they expect to see more gridlock and political divisiveness for the next two years.

“I thought that it was the point of politicians to care about the people, but it’s not,” said Miller Place resident Rich Jiranek. “They have forgotten about ‘We the People,’ and now it’s all about themselves.”

Jiranek, a Republican, said he didn’t see his party accomplish much of anything in the 18 months they controlled both the U.S. Congress and the presidency. Now he said he sees the ongoing push for recounts in the Florida governor’s and senator’s races and Georgia governor’s race as just a prelude to more political bickering.

“It’s just not right,” he said. “There’s nothing fair about it anymore.”

The sense of foreboding over potential partisanship was shared by people of all different political ideologies. Steve and Christina Dierlam, both Lindenhurst residents, sat at one of the outside tables at the Port Jeff Brewing Company on a cool fall afternoon, thankful for the day off with their young child because of paid family leave, a law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2016 and enacted at the beginning of 2018.

“Everything is just going to grind to a halt at this point,” Steve Dierlam said “I think that is what we’re dealing with. It’s pretty terrible that we’re the only two districts that went Republican when the rest of the districts in New York went Democrat.”

Christina Dierlam agreed and said that while she and her husband have voted for Democrats and agree with a lot of Democratic legislation, she believes government will come to a major impasse.

“Whoever is the speaker, the Democrats are going to shoot down any legislation the Trump administration or the Republicans try to implement, which I’m happy about, but it will just present more gridlock,” she said.

“This party wants to do that; the other party wants to do this. As bad as that sounds, that has been happening for a long time before this election.”

— Patrick Leahy

Mount Sinai resident Anna Hill said she expects to see even more conflict, especially with recent comments by the now expected majority leader in the House Nancy Pelosi (D) about re-opening the investigation into Russian involvement during the 2016 presidential election and ties to the Trump campaign. Trump has tweeted that if his campaign is investigated, he will challenge the Democrats in the House.

“I think what’s going to happen is there’s going to be more conflict, and Trump is going to be bullying people in the House of Representatives, and that’s going to make it harder to get things done,” Hill said. “I see more chaos, unfortunately.”

All those interviewed said that they disagreed with the political discord and partisan squabbling, but it was hard to say how or when it could ever stop. Stony Brook resident Patrick Leahy said that not enough attention gets paid to local laws that impact people on a day-to-day basis, and the political divisiveness has gotten to the point where people will move from their homes just to live in areas that agree with them politically.

“A person’s actions define their character, not what they say,” Leahy said. “This party wants to do that; the other party wants to do this. As bad as that sounds, that has been happening for a long time before this election.”

Though not all is doom and gloom, according to Port Jefferson Station resident Tara Braaten. This midterm election saw some high turnout all across the country. The New York Times reported that, by current estimates, 113 million people came out to vote in these midterms, encompassing 48 percent of the eligible voter population. This is up from the 2014 midterm elections, which saw only 83 million votes cast.

“I just feel that raising awareness and people being more active and proactive participating is going to have more of a difference to whatever decision being made or outcome,” she said. “We have to have constant vigilance, and it’s still up to us, despite who’s sitting in the chair.”

North Shore residents line the corner of Routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station Nov. 7 in response to the removal of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Photo by Alex Petroski

They say all politics is local.

The national drama of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the potential ties between President Donald Trump’s (R) 2016 campaign and Russian interference in the election experienced an escalation of tensions Nov. 7, one day after the midterm elections, and the response could be heard as far from Washington D.C. as Port Jefferson Station.

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) resigned that day in a letter that stated the president requested he do so.

As a result, the left-leaning political action group MoveOn organized nationwide protests called Nobody is Above the Law — Mueller Protection Rapid Response to take place across the country Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. A few dozen protestors congregated at the corner of Routes 112 and 347 to make their voices heard and send a message to Washington. The local activist organization North Country Peace Group acted to mobilize North Shore residents in the aftermath of the news.

“[Trump] firing Sessions and everything that he’s been doing since he’s been in the White House is my impetus to get out here,” Ellie Kahana, of Stony Brook, said. “He’s obviously going to try and get rid of Mueller and conceal whatever Mueller is finding out.”

Sessions’ position at the top of the U.S. Department of Justice would ordinarily make him the person in charge of a special counsel investigation, though he recused himself from that investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because he campaigned with Trump during 2016. Sessions’ potential removal was long viewed as a signal by his opponents that Trump may be moving to undermine Mueller’s probe or even fire him altogether.

When asked by White House pool reporters if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump appointed, was installed to harm the investigation, Trump called it a “stupid question.” While Trump has referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt” repeatedly on Twitter and in interviews, he has yet to take any steps to conceal its eventual findings or cut off its funding.

“I knew this would happen, in fact I thought it would happen at midnight,” said Lisa Karelis, of East Setauket.

Karelis said the Democrats seizing of the U.S. House of Representatives on election night creating the possibility of increased scrutiny triggered Trump’s urgency for a new attorney general. She added Whitaker’s public statements opposing the expanding scope of the Mueller probe prior to his appointment made it clear what the president hoped to accomplish by naming Whitaker acting attorney general.

Members of U.S. Congress and from both political parties have suggested legislation be advanced to prevent removal of the special counsel. The bill has yet to gain enough support to be delivered to Trump’s desk for signature.

Democrat challenger Jim Gaughran upset incumbent Carl Marcellino by winning the race for New York state's 5th Senate District. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Democratic Party found Election Day success at both the national and local levels, winning enough Congressional races to flip the U.S. House of Representatives away from Republican control in addition to grabbing the majority in the state Senate.

Incumbent 3rd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) secured 57 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Dan DeBono for another term. He will begin his next term as part of the new House majority.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” Suozzi posted on his campaign’s Facebook page. “It is an honor to serve.”

In New York, the long-billed “blue wave” also hit the state Senate where five Democratic challengers successfully unseated incumbents and three more won open seats, to create a new Democratic majority. The flip will put all three houses of the state government in the hands of the same party beginning in January 2019.

“I’m so grateful to the people of Nassau and Suffolk counties for giving me the opportunity to represent them.”

— Jim Gaughran

Democratic challenger Jim Gaughran, of Northport, was among the five party successes by unseating incumbent state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) in the 5th Senate District. Gaughran won by approximately 14,000 votes, receiving 53 percent of the total ballots cast.

“I’m just overwhelmed with the number of volunteers that came in and worked to help my campaign, it really made the difference” he said. “I’m so grateful to the people of Nassau and Suffolk counties for giving me the opportunity to represent them.”

The victory shows a significant change since the 2016 election, in which Gaughran had previously run unsuccessfully against Marcellino for the seat, losing by a narrow margin of roughly 2,000 votes. The Democrat said he believed increased political awareness of the issues on a statewide level and media coverage contributed to his 2018 midterm success.

“I think this year people focused more on the state Senate,” Gaughran said. “The Republican majority not allowing votes on measures such as Red Flag Bill for gun safety, saw the need for change. They wanted to start to move forward.”

Marcellino could not be reached for comment by press time Nov. 7. The Democrat did offer kind words to his opponent.

I think Sen. Marcellino should be congratulated for his 23 years of dedicated service to the people of his district,” he said.

“I strongly believe that I continue to have the ongoing support of my community because I continue to deliver results.”

— Steve Stern

New York state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) won re-election to the 2nd District and will continue his more than 30-year tenure, defeating challenger Kathleen Cleary by about 11 percentage points. Flanagan will relinquish his spot as Senate Majority Leader with the Democrats seizing control. He could not be reached for comment by press time Nov. 7.

“I did not win, but we made sure that the issues important to us: women’s reproductive health, the Child Victims Act, ERPO, [the New York Health Act] were discussed and now that the [state] Senate has flipped to blue these bills will be passed,” Cleary posted on her campaign’s Facebook page.

In the state Assembly, Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) has been elected to his first full-term in office representing the 10th District receiving 57 percent of the vote against first-time Republican challenger Jeremy Williams, of Huntington Station. His win puts the seat solidly in Democratic Party control, as the district was previously a Republican stronghold for more than 30 years until Stern’s historic win in the April special election against candidate Janet Smitelli.

“I strongly believe that I continue to have the ongoing support of my community because I continue to deliver results,” Stern said.

The Democrat said he does believe that the flip in the state Senate could open up new doors and avenues for legislation.

“There’s certainly an opportunity that did not exist before to have important legislative initiatives that I would be able to pass in the Assembly to now have a parter in the Senate,” he said. “It does provide the opportunity to have a working majority in the Senate.”

Thank you, Huntington voters, for showing your faith in me and electing me as your councilwoman. “

—Joan Cergol

State Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) has been re-elected to his ninth term representing the constituents of the 12th Assembly District over Democratic challenger Avrum Rosen, of Centerport. Raia previously told TBR News Media, if re-elected, he planned to reintroduce state legislation he co-sponsored this year relating to the Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari case against the Town of Huntington. The bill would have allowed the town to spread out any tax rate changes over a 15-year period and granted access to state funds to stabilize taxes, but never made it to the floor for a vote.

In the Town of Huntington, Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) was elected to serve as a town council member over Republican challenger James Leonick as she received approximately 53 percent of the vote.

“Thank you, Huntington voters, for showing your faith in me and electing me as your councilwoman,” Cergol posted on her Facebook page Wednesday morning. “It was thrilling to watch your votes come in. Together, we did this!”

Leonick could not be reached for comment prior to press time.

Reporting contributed by Kyle Barr and Rita J. Egan.

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin celebrates securing his third term in office Nov. 8 in Patchogue, joining hands with one of his daughters and Suffolk County Republican Party Chairman John Jay LaValle. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nationally the Democratic Party experienced a successful night, winning enough Congressional races to flip the House of Representatives from Republican control.

The long-billed blue wave petered out on the North Shore of Long Island however, as two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) fended off a challenge from first-time candidate Democrat Perry Gershon, an East Hampton resident and commercial real estate lender, winning re-election by securing more than 52 percent of the vote.

“This was the clear contrast of results versus resistance, and results won today,” Zeldin said from the podium at Stereo Garden in Patchogue after results were in Nov. 6. “It’s important we get to people’s business and deliver results.”

As many — if not all — House races did across the country, Zeldin and Gershon’s battle took on a nasty tone, largely focused on their opinions of President Donald Trump (R) and his job performance thus far.

“Our country needs to do much better uniting,” Zeldin said. “We also need to make sure our scores are settled at the ballot box, and that next day we wake up to govern.”

He thanked his opponent for running a tough race.

Onlookers celebrate as results roll in Nov. 8 at Democratic Party campaign headquarters in Hauppauge. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It’s not the outcome we wanted but life goes on,” Gershon said when his fate appeared sealed from IBEW Local 25 Long Island Electricians union headquarters in Hauppauge. “We’re so much better off than we were two years ago. We showed the Democratic Party has a heart here in eastern Suffolk County.”

Both candidates’ respective Suffolk County party chairmen applauded their efforts.

“He worked very hard and developed a grassroots campaign,” Democratic Party Chairman Rich Schaffer said. “We have not heard the last of Perry Gershon.”

John Jay LaValle, Republican Party chairman for the county, dismissed the idea Election Day 2018 was something to be celebrated by Democrats locally.

“There was no blue wave in Suffolk County tonight, in fact the only thing blue tonight was my tie,” he said.

Incumbent 3rd District U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) secured 58 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Dan DeBono to secure another term as well.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!” Suozzi posted on his campaign Facebook page. “It is an honor to serve.”

Despite LaValle’s assertion, the blue party scored major victories in several statewide battles, enough to flip the New York State Senate to Democratic control, meaning all three houses of the state government are controlled by the same party. Nearly all incumbent state legislators from both parties held serve on the North Shore though.

The 2nd District state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) won re-election to continue his more than 30 years in the Senate, defeating challenger Kathleen Cleary by about 11 percentage points. Flanagan will relinquish his spot as Senate Majority Leader with the Democrats seizing control. He could not be reached for comment by press time Nov. 7.

“I did not win but we made sure that the issues important to us: women’s reproductive health, the Child Victims Act, ERPO, [the New York Health Act] were discussed and now that the [state] Senate has flipped to blue these bills will be passed,” Cleary said in a post on her campaign Facebook page.

State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who has represented the 1st District since the 1970s, easily won another term, besting Democrat Greg Fischer for a second consecutive cycle, this time by 17 percentage points. LaValle could not be reached for comment Nov. 7 either.

“It’s very difficult to unseat a long-term incumbent,” Fischer said. “Like it or not, the system is filled with or based on lots of favors, so there’s always that tendency to reward people for their past performance.”

Democrats Jim Gaughran and Monica Martinez won surprise upsets in nearby Long Island state Senate districts, defeating incumbent Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) and Assemblyman Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) in their respective races, which were major contributors to the shift of power in New York’s legislative branch.

In the state Assembly, Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) was easily returned to his longtime post representing the 4th District, earning 60 percent of the vote to his challenger Christian Kalinowski’s 40 percent.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to the task at hand, protecting the environment, the quality of life of our community and enhancing it, making sure we have adequate funding for our schools and for the next generation,” Englebright said. “We have a lot to do.”

Englebright’s Assembly colleagues from across the aisle on the North Shore will all be returning to Albany as well.

The 2nd District Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) blew out first-time candidate Democrat Rona Smith to earn a third term, winning about 60 percent of the vote.

Democrat Perry Gershon thanks supporters Nov. 8 in Hauppauge after accepting defeat in his race to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District against incumbent Lee Zeldin. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It’s great to see we won by a nice margin — it validates we’re going on the right direction,” Palumbo said. “I will try to discuss some issues raised by my opponent, including the issue of health care with the 5 percent uninsured rate.”

Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) will head to Albany for another term after beating Democrat and first-time candidate David Morrissey handily, 61 percent to 39 percent.

“I’m going to continue to pursue my objective of being a strong voice for mandate relief and strengthening the private sector to make people aware of the need to slow down the growth of taxes,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are losing too many people — too many retirees, too many young people. Too many people in the middle class are looking elsewhere as the cost of living is getting too high.”

Republican for the 12th Assembly District Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) will continue his tenure, as will Democrat Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), who captured the 10th Assembly District seat in a special election in April.

Though members of Brookhaven Town’s board were not on the ballot this year, voters overwhelmingly passed a back-of-the-ballot proposition that extended officials terms in office from two years to four, and limited officeholders to three terms. A total of 58 percent voted in favor of that measure with 42 percent opposing.

“We felt that this was the right time to put out this proposition, especially with all the talk about the president stimulating turnout,” said Councilwoman Jane Bonner (C-Rocky Point).

Reporting contributed by Sara-Megan Walsh, Rita J. Egan and Kyle Barr.

File photo

Polls closed in New York at 9 p.m.

Check back for updated results as they come in.

Check out results from the state, federal and local North Shore races as they come in on election night. Follow @TBRnewsmedia on Facebook and Twitter for the latest and search the hashtag #TBRVoters. All results are courtesy of the Suffolk County Board of Elections and the New York State Board of Elections.

1st Congressional District

Lee Zeldin (R): 52.47%; 130,919

Perry Gershon (D): 46.41%; 115,795

“This was the clear contrast of results versus resistance, and results won today,” Zeldin said. “It’s important we get to people’s business and deliver results.”

3rd Congressional District 

Tom Suozzi (D): 54.33%; 49,448

Dan DeBono (R): 45.64%, 41,571

New York State Assembly 2nd District

Anthony Palumbo (R): 60.20%; 29.340

Rona Smith (D): 39.78%; 19.386

“It’s great to see we won by a nice margin,” Palumbo said. “It validates we’re going in the right direction. I will try to discuss some issues raised by my opponent”

New York State Assembly 4th District

Steve Englebright (D): 60.15%; 25,742

Christian Kalinowski (R): 39.84%; 17,050

New York State Assembly 8th District

Mike Fitzpatrick (R): 61.42%; 30,383

Dave Morrissey (D): 38.58%; 19,086

“I’m going to continue to pursue my objective of being a strong voice for mandate relief and strengthening the private sector to make people aware the need to slow down the growth of taxes,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are losing too many people — too many retirees, too many young people, too many people in the middle class are looking elsewhere as the cost of living is getting too high.”

The incumbent also promised in his ninth term to continue pushing for sewers in St. James, Smithtown and Kings Park. Fitzpatrick said his Democratic challenger Dave Morrissey was a gentleman and “a worthy opponent.” Morrissey campaigned strongly on the need for the state to dedicate more resources toward combating Long Island’s opioid drug addiction issues.
“Both sides of the aisle feel strongly about doing what we can to deal with the opioid issue,” Fitzpatrick said. “His race brought more attention to it, so I applaud him for that.”
New York State Assembly 10th District

Steve Stern (D): 59.48%; 26,687

Jeremy Williams (R): 40.51%; 18,176

New York State Assembly 12th District

Andrew Raia (R): 55.88%; 26,705

Avrum Rosen (D): 44.11%; 21,080

New York State Senate 1st District

Ken LaValle (R): 58.32%; 65,933

Greg Fischer (D): 41.64%; 47,084

New York State Senate 2nd District

John Flanagan (R): 55.36%; 62,748

Kathleen Cleary (D): 44.63%; 50,581

New York State Senate 5th District

Jim Gaughran (D): 53.23%; 62,933

Carl Marcellino (R): 44.73%; 52,883

Smithtown Town Board

Tom Lohmann (R): 57.95%; 26,428

Amy Fortunato (D): 42.03%; 19,170

Huntington Town Board

Joan Cergol (D): 53.16%; 40,741

Jim Leonick (R): 46.83%; 35,884

Brookhaven Town Proposal 1

Yes: 58.15%; 80,250

No: 41.85%; 57,747

***Totals are not final.

Updated Nov. 7 at 12:10 a.m.

Updated Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m.

 

 

The former, albeit short-lived White House employee tells all in exclusive TBR interview

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

Anthony Scaramucci, the one-time White House communications director and Port Washington native, swirled through the Trump Administration like a tornado during his 10-day tenure in 2017. Though if there’s any specific reason he didn’t last as long as he would have liked to, he said it’s because he tells it like it is.

“I’m not the type of person well suited for Washington – I’m honest,” Scaramucci said in an exclusive interview with TBR News Media Nov. 4. “I’m not going to spin like that, I told [President Donald Trump] that.”

Scaramucci travelled back to the vicinity of his old stomping grounds to promote his new book, “Donald Trump, The Blue-Collar President” for a book signing event at Book Revue in Huntington Sunday. Local residents asked questions about Scaramucci the man, but many were especially keen on hearing about his time and experience with the 45th President of the United States.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

Scaramucci was in the White House from July 21 through July 31, 2017, though before he was fired the man known widely as “The Mooch” stunned media correspondents with his uproarious Wall Street financier’s attitude, unafraid of using language not usually seen on air, let alone from the federal government’s top spokesperson. It was that lack of a filter that likely cost him his job, after talking to The New Yorker Magazine reporter Ryan Lizza and saying on the record, “I’m not [former White House Chief Strategist Steve] Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own [expletive].”

Though the former communications director said he owns up to the mistake, that bluster likely brought more than 100 people, both Trump supporters and critics, to Book Revue to ask questions about his experience with Trump, who he said he’s known for more than 20 years.

The author said there is a strategy behind Trump’s consistent attacks on news media. Scaramucci said the president aims to keep the media in disarray for the purpose of galvanizing his base, which seems to enjoy the constant onslaught.

“He is using the bombast as a firecracker to throw into the crowd of the media,” he said. “He tells a lie, a mistruth or creates puffery, they’re going to self-immolate on the air – they will be all upset – while his base is laughing at them. They’ve made themselves part of the story while he’s trying to galvanize that base.”

Though Scaramucci’s advice to Trump is to dial back the attacks he said, at least enough to make the nation’s overall political discourse less volatile.

“If you could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and still get votes, as you once said, why not try being nice for two weeks?” he said he told Trump. “The president has a very unique personality, and the market price is in, he’s going to say a lot of cuckoo, la-la things. The people who are replicating his strategy are having a hard time. You cannot beat the president on the field he’s playing.”

While Scaramucci said he had asked Trump to dial it back at some points, Huntington Village resident Dominick “Dominooch” Mavellia asked why he should when it was precisely that personality that won him the presidency.

“There’s a huge transitional opportunity for him to keep his base in check and appeal to the center … he’s going to need to secure reelection,” Scaramucci said, responding to Mavellia. “I don’t think he can recreate that map he created in 2016 because [the opposition] has now adapted and pivoted. If he calms it down a little, just moving it down to fourth gear from fifth, still being aggressive on the media, pushing the message towards the middle, and getting those independents he will win a resounding reelection.”

Scaramucci, a former Goldman Sachs banker and founder of the investment firm SkyBridge Capital, is not the first ex-White House official to scribe a book about the experience of working for the 45th president. Omarosa Manigault Newman, former assistant to the president, published “Unhinged: An insider’s account of the Trump Whitehouse” in August, calling Trump a “racist” and saying he was losing much of his cognitive ability.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

The author of this latest book on Trump said while he was originally approached to write a book just after he was pushed out of office, those publishing firms were looking for a tell-all book similar to what Manigault would later write. He was approached by another, conservative political book publisher Center Street, whom he said published the book to coincide with the midterm elections Nov. 6.

“I wanted to write about what Bannon’s like as a guy, what [White House Chief of Staff John] Kelly is like as a guy,” Scaramucci said. “[Trump’s] surrounded by cockroaches, and they all want to survive him. They think they’re going to be there forever.”

Scaramucci said half the book examines Trump’s 2016 electoral win as he witnessed it with Trump on the campaign trail in 2016. He pointed to states like Wisconsin, battleground states then-candidate Hillary Clinton has been criticized for neglecting to campaign in, where Trump made several trips, as the path to his electoral success.

The other half of the book goes into his short time spent in the White House, lambasting the people he called “snakes,” who he blamed for pushing him out of his position.

“I got an 11-day PhD in Washington scumbaggery, and as bad as people thought it was it all was, it’s way worse,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here for real people to enter into the system and break the corpocracy that’s strangling Washington … though we might not be able to break it.”

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.

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.

Rona Smith is challenging Anthony Palumbo for his New York State Assembly seat. Photos by Alex Petroski

The North Shore’s easternmost New York State Assembly District — which juts as far west as Mount Sinai and portions of Port Jefferson — has been represented by an incumbent Republican since 2013, and a first-time candidate for political office is seeking to unseat him.

Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) was elected in a special election to represent the 2nd District in 2013 and won subsequent races in 2014 and 2016. The 48-year-old practicing lawyer will be challenged this Election Day by 73-year-old Democrat Rona Smith, a newcomer to politics from Greenport with government experience, as she currently serves as the chairwoman of the Housing Advisory Commission for Southold Town.

The candidates sat down for a debate at the TBR News Media in Setauket in October to discuss issues impacting the district.

Health care

The future of health care is at the top of minds for candidates in federal and state races alike this cycle, likely because it’s on the minds of their common constituents. State law can be used in conjunction with federal law regarding health care, meaning the legislative houses of New York’s government will have an opportunity to stabilize health care policy for its residents as the federal Affordable Care Act waits in limbo for a bipartisan solution in Congress.

Democrats in the Assembly have passed a single-payer health care bill — meaning essentially everyone in the state would pay into a pool and everyone would be covered — which has gotten no traction in the state Senate, controlled by Republicans, and appears unlikely ever to become the law.

As the ACA suffers, Palumbo said he would suggest some simple tweaks to improve the current system, rather than implementing a single-payer bill, which he said he believes will be too expensive.

“When you think about the numbers, we’re talking about 900,000 people in New York state are uninsured — they’re between the Medicaid gap and the private insurance gap — that’s 5 percent,” he said. “Not a lot I think, generally speaking.”

He suggested bringing back the Family Health Plus option, a subsidized plan for low-income individuals, which wasn’t available under the ACA, rather than “overhauling” state tax code to afford a single-payer scheme.

“Nothing comes off the shelf perfect,” Smith said of both the ACA and the single-payer bill passed by the Assembly. “They’re not perfect, they’re attempts to try to make sure that everybody — rich, poor, old, young — has health insurance they can depend upon for any health need that comes up. We have got to figure out how to do it.”

Affordability and opportunity

The candidates agreed there are obstacles for people — but especially recent college graduates — for being able to live and prosper both in the district and in the county as a whole. The problem will only be exaggerated going forward by the capping of state and local tax deductions, a component of the new federal tax code bill that will disproportionately impact homeowners in high-tax states like New York.

Smith said she would home in on reducing student loan debt as a means to foster more affordability, in addition to investment in more affordable housing projects for low-income individuals, a plan she said Democrats in the Assembly are already working on.

She said students need access to mandated, objective advice when it comes to borrowing and affording college, rather than just input from for-profit loan collection businesses.

Palumbo said New York’s susceptibility to outward migration can be traced to out-of-control budgeting and spending.

“It’s conservative fiscal values that we need to have,” he said.

He said the Assembly has been working on a solution to mitigate the capping of the SALT deduction at $10,000, though so far the IRS has not blessed any of the fixes.

Infrastructure investment

Investing in projects that could stimulate the local economy is seen as a solution by members of both parties. Currently legislators in New York are gathering funds to study the feasibility of electrifying the Long Island Rail Road east of Huntington on the North Shore line, an idea many have suggested to increase opportunities for people to live and work in the area.

“I think investments in infrastructure always come back in salaries and benefits for people,” Smith said. “It might make housing more accessible.”

She said electrification might be the answer, but the state’s economy could be better served by using the LIRR to ship freight, an idea that would allow farmers and vineyards on the East End to ship fresh products beyond the direct vicinity.

Palumbo said he would go in another direction instead of committing major funds to electrify the LIRR line. He said he would like to see the results of a study examining LIRR ridership to the East End before going down that road and would prefer to see smarter leadership from the Metropolitan Transit Authority when it comes to train schedules and usage.

He also called on school districts to examine ways to scale down spending, which is the largest driver of increasing property taxes.

Social

9,193FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,126FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe