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4th Assembly District

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 Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D). Photo by Kyle Barr

In the race to represent New York State’s 4th Assembly District, incumbent Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) is up against Republican newcomer Christian Kalinowski, a 25-year-old who works as a trainer at an animal shelter and lives in Port Jefferson. Traditionally both candidates sit down for a debate at the TBR News Media office in Setauket, and while both were invited, Kalinowski declined to attend or answer questions about the race via phone or email.

“The way that the environment has been treated by this administration in Washington has been savage.”

— Steve Englebright

The assemblyman, as he does whenever he runs, cited the environment as a key issue for his candidacy.

“The way that the environment has been treated by this administration in Washington has been savage,” he said.

Earlier in the year Englebright, who is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, held hearings in Hauppauge regarding the possibility of offshore oil and gas drilling along the Atlantic coast after the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed plans for expansion of natural gas and oil drilling along coastal waters.

He said he was disappointed legislation passed in the Assembly and supported by the governor to stop drilling off the Atlantic coast did not get passed in the state Senate.

The assemblyman is proud of the $2.5 billion he advocated for in last year’s state budget slated for water protection. He has also advocated for having waterways defined as infrastructure which can lead to increased protections of watersheds and reservoirs.

Safety is also on the assemblyman’s mind. When it comes to gun regulation, Englebright is a proponent of the microstamping of firing pins. A microscope is needed to see the
microstamp, but when it hits a shell casing while ejecting, it prints a number onto the shell, theoretically leaving a trace for investigators when necessary.

“We have the ability with lasers where we can cut little numbers into the firing pin, and then the firing pin — without changing the mechanism, without doing anything to take away gun rights — there is at least forensic evidence that if the gun is used in another crime, you can join the two crimes together through the forensic evidence,” Englebright said.

“I’m generally cautious about bringing hardware like that into public spaces of any kind.”

— Steve Englebright

He said some challengers say the cost for microstamping would be felt by the consumer in that it would cost several hundred dollars more for a handgun, which he said he believes is holding up the legislation, though he disputed the cost would be prohibitive.

The assemblyman said he doesn’t agree with teachers having guns on school campuses, but he would consider retired police officers working as guards if needed. He said it would be better to have more efficient lockdowns and safer designed entrances before bringing guns into schools.

“I’m generally cautious about bringing hardware like that into public spaces of any kind,” Englebright said.

The incumbent also reiterated his support to advance electrification of the Long Island Rail Road between Huntington and Port Jefferson, an idea he has supported for years and is now gaining momentum, as state funds have been put toward studying the possibility. The study will examine the possible benefits and ramifications of electrification for communities along the line. He said state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) succeeded in appropriating state funds toward the plan.

“I think it’s a game changer, and I think we’re at the moment when it can happen,”
Englebright said.

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.”