Northport native Michael Marcantonio said his life has been shaped by two major events of the 21st century, 9/11 and the Great Recession, that now define his first campaign for political office.
Marcantonio, 31, is running as the Democratic candidate for New York State’s 12th Assembly District against incumbent, Andrew Raia (R-Northport) in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. A self-identified millennial, he seeks to address theissues of high taxes, public transportation and LIPA lawsuit that he feels threaten Long Island’s future.
Born in Huntington Hospital, Marcantonio said growing up during 9/11 and the Iraq War colored his vision of the United States as a country while attending Northport High School. He said the 2008 financial crash and subsequent recession greatly affected his ability to get a job after graduating from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in 2009.
“There is a mass exodus on Long Island of young people who can no longer afford to live here.”
— Michael Marcantonio
“It was a disaster for many people in my generation, but it’s remained hard,” Marcantonio said. “I was fortunate that I had a family that was able to weather that storm, but your whole life can’t start when you’re still living at home without a job.”
In 2012, the first-time political candidate enrolled at Duke University in North Carolina to earn his doctorate in law. After returning to New York in 2015, he was hired by the Manhattan office of law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP as an associate, where he and many other young partners work close to 80 hours a week. He considers himself a part of the young generation who have had to struggle with the high cost of living on Long Island, which has been worse for youth than other areas, he said.
“We are working much harder, much longer with and much less job security than we ever have before,” Marcantonio said. “People our age would be getting involved more if it weren’t for these structural hurdles that have been holding us back. … There is a mass exodus on Long Island of young people who can no longer afford to live here.”
“We are getting gouged in taxes on Long Island — we are getting absolutely soaked.”
— Michael Marcantonio
Marcantonio said he is running in support of the youth on Long Island, and he is currently battling a lawsuit that contends he does not meet the five-year requirement for living in the 12th Assembly District because he registered to vote in North Carolina where he went to school. Marcantonio considers the lawsuit an assault on young people’s ability to run for office.
One of Marcantonio’s main campaign promises is to upgrade Long Island’s infrastructure, starting with investing in rebuilding Long Island Rail Road. He also called for an expansion of Suffolk County sewers to replace cesspools he said are affecting the water supply. He added that Albany should foot the bill to pay for those upgrades.
“This is not a Suffolk County specific problem, this is a New York problem,” Marcantonio said. “Suffolk County should not have to borrow at higher interest rates because we have less borrowing power than the state.”
He said he plans to advocate for strengthening unions in both the public and private sector, to make higher education more affordable and for more public sector job opportunities in areas such as health care, teaching and construction.
“This lawsuit is a total fraud, an utter and total fraud, and we are going to fight this.”
— Michael Marcantonio
“The decks are stacked against us,” Marcantonio said. “You can’t even raise a family on a private sector job because you don’t have the job security, and you’re not getting the pay you would get to sustain a family. We don’t have as much access to credit if we would want to buy a home.”
He also said that there cannot be any further state tax increases on Long Island, in order to lower the area’s high cost of living.
“We are getting gouged in taxes on Long Island — we are getting absolutely soaked,” he said.
The Town of Huntington is currently in the midst of an eight-year ongoing legal battle due to the Long Island Power Authority lawsuit over the value of Northport Power Station, as LIPA claims it has been overtaxed. LIPA is seeking a 90 percent reduction of its annual taxes, a difference of approximately $56 million and growing. Marcantonio said he believes the town should not have to pay a dime in back pay.
“This lawsuit is a total fraud, an utter and total fraud, and we are going to fight this,” Marcantonio said. “We need a legislative contingency plan.”