The New York State Assembly’s 10th District seat is up for grabs. Come Nov. 6, residents have the choice between age and experience, or a youth with enthusiasm.
TBR News Media was prepared to host a debate with state Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) and his Republican challenger Jeremy Williams, but the latter candidate did not show.
Stern, a prior Suffolk County legislator for 12 years, won a special election to the state Assembly after Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) vacated the seat in January. Now, the incumbent said he has a great track record in government, sponsoring and helping to pass six separate bills in six weeks on a number of state and local issues.
“I was dropped into session and not even told where the bathroom was,” Stern said. “I’m proud in being able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.”
“I’m proud in being able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time.”
— Steve Stern
The 22-year-old Williams is a lifelong Huntington Station resident, and now lives in a house close to the one his great-great-grandparents built. The Republican challenger said previously that he decided to run for office after commuting to his job in Manhattan, working as a public relations representative for several technology companies, and seeing how expensive it was to live on Long Island.
Williams said he wants to focus on getting more funds to Suffolk and that he would work to end what he called an unfriendly business climate, especially in regard to high tax rates and fees.
“We have to fast track the application process for these businesses, maybe with a five-year property tax abatement,” Williams said in a phone interview after the debate.
Stern said he also believes that businesses need incentives to come to and grow on Long Island. Specifically, he would want to offer tax breaks for companies looking to set up shop on Long Island, and that he would use state funds to incentivize the county to reduce its business and development fees, specifically environmental fees. The incumbent also said that he will focus on making sure Suffolk gets a higher percentage back from the $5 billion in taxes it pays out to the state annually.
“The $5 billion that we send up to Albany is enough to fund both Suffolk County and a good bit of Nassau county as well,” the Democratic candidate said. “If we receive some significant percentage of that back, our taxpayers would be able to have a better quality of life.”
In development, Stern, who was opposed to enterprises like Villadom that would have created a mall on vacant land in Elwood, said there should be more incentives from the state to build new projects on developed parcels rather than on open space. “Before anybody goes knocking down areas of pristine property there has to be an incentive for redevelopment,” he said.
Williams said he agreed with redevelopment over new developments, but he emphasized the problems with modern transit-oriented developments don’t aid in helping young people stay on Long Island.
“Transit-oriented developments are disingenuous — most of those affordable homes go to people 55 years or older,” he said.
Stern said if re-elected he would work with Republicans and Democrats to provide commuters or their employers access to funds for transportation purposes, and encourage programs for college students to work with local businesses or startups.
“Transit-oriented developments are disingenuous — most of those affordable homes go to people 55 years or older.”
— Jeremy Williams
“There has to be a public-private partnership that has real meaning for the development of this company, but as local taxpayers, if we are to make investments into this company and provide the intellectual capital, that this is going to be a company that will commit to its future growth on Long Island,” the incumbent said.
Williams said he agrees with more public-private partnerships with businesses, especially if they are located in areas of Huntington, like stretches of the Melville business corridor that have degraded in both looks and number of storefronts. The Republican challenger added if he is elected he would be both willing and able to work with the Democrats in the state legislature.
“Lupinacci and other people in the district seat were in the minority seat for years, and they still got a lot done,” Williams said. “The only people I am beholden to are the people in my community.”
Overall, Stern said he is more than willing to work across the aisle with Republican colleagues.
“I don’t care what letter you have after your name. The most important thing is putting points up on the board and delivering to my community,” he said. “If nobody has a sit down with each other or a working relationship with each other, then top priorities don’t get done.”