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Steve Stern

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.

From left, incumbent Assemblyman Steve Stern will run off against Republican Jeremy Williams Nov. 6. Photo by Kyle Barr, photo from Jeremy Williams

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.”

Jeremy Williams. Photo from Williams

At 22 years old, Republican candidate for New York State’s 10th Assembly District Jeremy Williams said he sees things from the millennial generation’s perspective, especially the issue of young people finding jobs and housing to stay on Long Island.

“I saw a lot of my friends move out of state,” Williams said. “They went down to the Carolinas, to Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and when you ask them why — it’s not that they don’t like New York, or they don’t like their family — it’s a simple matter of there’s better jobs.”

Williams grew up in Huntington Station, his family longtime town residents, and now he currently lives just a block away from the house his great-great-grandparents built. He went through the South Huntington school district and graduated from Walt Whitman High School in 2014. After that he worked part time jobs before attending Stony Brook University and transferring to Binghamton University. While finishing his English rhetoric degree, Williams joined up with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter where he became the organization’s treasurer.

They went down to the Carolinas, to Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, and when you ask them why — it’s not that they don’t like New York, or they don’t like their family — it’s a simple matter of there’s better jobs.”

— Jeremy Williams

After returning home from college, Williams got a job in New York City working as a public relations representative for financial technology, cryptocurrency and blockchain companies. One thing he quickly realized from working in the city while living in Huntington was just how hard it was to save money and find a house to live on his own.

“When you’re not saving for the first down payment on your house, when you’re just worried about being able to fill up your car, it’s kind of an unworkable situation,” Williams said. “It’s very expensive to buy a first home, and there are a lot of barriers to first home ownership on Long Island.”

Williams said he has long been interested in politics, and in his adult life he has become involved in local Republican Party politics. He said he has worked on campaigns for several Suffolk County Legislature and state Assembly races. Now he is challenging Assemblyman Steve Stern’s (D-Dix Hills) seat. Stern won the seat in a special election earlier this year after it was vacated by now Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R).

The young candidate said the problems that his district, and by extension all of Long Island, faces are a combination of high tax rates, “outrageous” county fees, an unfriendly business climate and environmental issues, especially those in coastal waters.

Williams blamed the state of Suffolk County’s current finances on excessive spending and that county officials have been upping fees to make up for excessive spending. He specifically pointed to fees for filing mortgage tax ID maps and the red light camera program, which he argued has not been doing the job of making intersections safer.

“With every $3 we send to the state, we get $1 back,” Williams said. “It’s not an act of the universe that it’s becoming more unaffordable for people to live here. It’s regulation and legislation.”

On the environment, he said current issues with nitrogen pollution and recent algal blooms in Huntington and Northport harbors have him worried for the future of local waters.

It’s not an act of the universe that it’s becoming more unaffordable for people to live here. It’s regulation and legislation.”

— Jeremy Williams

“We have really beautiful waterways, and the sheer life in the harbors is staggering,” he said. “Waste leakage dumping is killing our [shellfish and other marine life] en masse.”

While he said he would support harsher punishments for anybody found dumping waste, and for increased funding for household nitrogen filtering technology, he said he is hesitant to support sewer projects if that means more overdevelopment. He said he vehemently opposed the recent Villadom mall project, which once planned to build a large-scale mall complex in Elwood but has since been stalled by local opposition. He said he fears such developments could drastically impact local water, especially that from the Greenlawn Water District.

Williams said he is very concerned about the legal battle between Long Island Power Authority and the Town of Huntington. The town is currently in the midst of ongoing litigation with LIPA over the property tax assessment of Northport Power Station, as the utility claims it has been overtaxed. LIPA is seeking a massive reduction of its property taxes, which could lead to lost revenue for the town and expose it to back taxes should the battle go LIPA’s way. Recent judicial rulings have allowed LIPA to go ahead and take the town to court over these assessments.

“We have to be prepared for the worst,” he said. “We need to have legislation that provides 15 years of relief so that it won’t come down on the taxpayers.”

Steve Stern. Photo from Stern's office

Former Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) said he knew his neighbors best and his confidence was backed up when the ballots were counted Tuesday night.


Special Election Results
Steve Stern (D)          5,748
Janet Smitelli (R)       3,949

Stern became the first Democrat elected to represent the 10th Assembly District in New York State Assembly in more than 30 years by defeating Republican candidate Janet Smitelli, 5,748 to 3,969 votes, in the April 24 special election.

“I look forward to being a strong voice for Long Island,” he said “That’s exactly what’s needed in New York State Assembly.”

Stern received approximately 59 percent of the ballots cast, according to the unofficial results posted by Suffolk County Board of Elections. He ran on the Democrat, Working Families, Independence, Women’s Equality and Reform lines.

The newly elected assemblyman called it a “historic win” indicative of the larger political dialogue happening across the country.

“So many people in our community believe that the federal government is going in a dangerous direction,” Stern said. “If Washington is not going to address the issues and what’s going on, we have a responsibility to do it up in Albany.”

“If Washington is not going to address the issues and what’s going on, we have a responsibility to do it up in Albany.”
– Steve Stern

Stern will be sworn in April 30 to take over the seat vacated by Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). The new state assemblyman thanked his campaign volunteers and said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) had called to offer his congratulations.

The state’s 10th Assembly District has been represented by Republicans since the early 1980s. The longest-serving assemblyman was Huntington Station resident Jim Conte (R) who held the office from 1988 until his death in October 2012. Lupinacci, who worked for Conte, then won the seat in a 2012 special election.

“I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to my opponent Steve Stern upon his victory,” Smitelli posted April 24 on Facebook. “During this campaign we discussed the issues and got the community engaged. I wish him the best of luck.”

She could not be reached immediately for further comment.

Stern previously said if elected he intended to continue local efforts but on a much larger scale, such as combating gang activity, which he has done by helping to get county funding for automatic license plate readers that target criminals. He’s also passionate about protecting the environment and the area’s water quality, having co-sponsored legislation identifying key areas of importance when it comes to developing sewer infrastructure. Stern said this legislation plays a key to downtown revitalization of Huntington Station. He said he’s a strong supporter of term limits and bipartisanship.

His first action upon being elected, in keeping with a personal tradition started during his days in county Legislature, Stern said, was driving around town starting to pull up his campaign signs.

Cast your ballot for the April 24 special election from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at regular polling locations

Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli, and Democrat Party candidate Steve Stern. File photos

By Sara-Megan Walsh

A Huntington political newcomer and a former Suffolk County legislator are vying for votes to become the area’s new state Assembly representative next Tuesday.

Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli and Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) are both hoping to be elected to fill the assembly seat vacated by Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) to represent the 10th Assembly District in the April 24 special election.

“It’s a very important election for the 10th Assembly District,” Lupinacci said. “It’s very critical to remind your family, your neighbors and your friends to vote on that day as every vote is going to count in this special election.”

Janet Smitelli

Smitelli has lived in Huntington for more than 30 years but is relatively new to politics, referring to herself as an outsider. She has not held an elected position before claiming recent events have inspired her to throw her hat in the ring.

Janet Smitelli. Photo from Smitelli’s campaign

“I’ve become politically involved because I’m getting pretty sick of what’s going on, and I know I can use my talents and experience to make some type of difference, to help and be part of the fight,” she said in an interview with TBR News Media.

The longtime Huntington native is a mother of three and has strong community ties. Smitelli served as an assistant Scoutmaster for local Boy Scout troops and taught Sunday school. For more than 30 years, she has fought to protect residents as a civil litigator. This April, she hopes to add New York State assemblywoman to that list.

“I’m someone who has been very busy these past few months, getting the word out, and getting my name out,” she said. “I’ve been trying to get to as many people as I can to let them know how sincere and passionate I am about this.”

As a lawyer, she has represented those filing lawsuits and those on the receiving end of them, motor vehicle collisions, slip-and-falls and, predominantly over the last 10 years, construction accidents. She spends her free time actively volunteering in the Huntington community.

“As an attorney, you learn to represent your client with zeal; you learn to represent your client passionately, and I will be doing that for the people who live in my district.”

— Janet Smitelli

If elected, Smitelli said she wants to tackle what she believes are the major challenges facing Huntington. This includes pledging to eliminate excessive taxation, receive funds to preserve and protect waterways and our drinking water, increase funding for K-12 extracurricular programs and veer young people away from gangs and opioids by keeping them involved in community programs.

She also said she wants to strengthen the transparency between government and residents by making it easier to access information and calling for reform.

“As an attorney, you learn to represent your client with zeal; you learn to represent your client passionately,” she said. “And I will be doing that for the people who live in my district.”

Read more about Smitelli in TBR News Media’s candidate profile here. 

Steve Stern

Stern is a familiar face to many members of the Huntington community, having served as their longtime Suffolk County legislator. He left the position Dec. 31 due to being term limited after 12 years but now hopes to bring his knowledge and experience to Albany.

Steve Stern. Photo from Stern’s office

“I’m running on the key issue of great concern to the residents of the 10th Assembly District which is taxes,” he said. “Particularly given the changes at the federal level which will have a dramatic impact on middle-class families in our area.”

While in the Legislature, Stern sat on the Suffolk County Veterans and Seniors Committee. He wrote the law that created the state’s first Silver Alert system — which helps locate seniors with Alzheimer’s or cognitive diseases who have gone missing — and initiated the first ban in the nation on the use of the BPA chemical in baby bottles, sippy cups and toys. Stern said he launched the Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act, as part of a long-term effort to bring an end to veteran homelessness in Suffolk.

Recently, the Democratic candidate spoke out against the proposed Villadom Corp.development to build a 486,380-square-foot mall with mixed retail and office space on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood citing traffic and quality-of-life issues.

If elected, Stern said he wants to continue local efforts but on a much larger scale, such as combating gang activity, which he has done by helping to get county funding for automatic license plate readers that target criminals. He’s also passionate about protecting the environment and the area’s water quality, having co-sponsored legislation identifying key areas of importance when it comes to developing sewer infrastructure. Stern said this legislation plays a key to downtown revitalization of Huntington Station. He said he’s a strong supporter of term limits and bipartisanship.

“I look forward to being a strong voice for Long Island. That’s exactly what’s needed in New York State Assembly.”

— Steve Stern

“I look forward to being a strong voice for Long Island,” Stern said. “That’s exactly what’s needed in New York State Assembly. I know who I represent very well. I was elected and re-elected by my neighbors because they know Stern was dependable and a proven leader who delivered for his constituents.”

Read more about Stern in TBR News Media’s candidate profile here. 

Go vote

The polls will be open April 24 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters should go to their normal polling locations used in the November general elections.

The candidate who is elected to represent the 10th District will serve approximately 130,000 residents, according to 2010 Census data, which includes all or part of Cold Spring Harbor, East Northport, Greenlawn, Lloyd Harbor, Lloyd Neck, Melville, Huntington and Huntington Station.

Voters have the opportunity to ask questions of candidates Janet Smitelli and Steve Stern at April 11 event

Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli, and Democrat Party candidate Steve Stern. File photos

Huntington residents are invited to come meet the candidates competing for Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s former state assembly seat.

The League of Women Voters of Huntington has scheduled a Meet the Candidates Night for April 11 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the South Huntington Public Library. Democrat Steve Stern, who previously represented the 16th District in the Suffolk County Legislature, will be running against Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli in the April 24 special election.

Smitelli is a civil litigator who has lived in Huntington for more than 20 years. A member of the Republican committee for more than 10 years, she is active locally with the Boy Scouts and has served as an assistant Scoutmaster.

Stern left the county Legislature Dec. 31, term limited from office after 12 years representing the 16th District. He sat on the Suffolk County Veterans and Seniors Committee and previously touted his
accomplishments to include the Housing Our Homeless Heroes initiative, a package of bills that aimed to end veteran homelessness in Suffolk, and the creation of the Silver Alert system designed to locate missing senior citizens.

Any attendee who wants to ask a question of the candidates may submit it in writing on cards that will be supplied at the event. For more information, contact Colette Knuth at cstewardknuth@gmail.com.

Prior to the Meet the Candidates Night, the League of Women Voters will hold its first Take Action Workshop starting at 5 p.m. The workshop will offer a hands-on experience and expert advice in assisting citizens to register to vote and answering any questions regarding voting. Seating is limited, but registration is open to anyone who is interested.

Those interested can register by visiting the South Huntington Public Library’s website at www.shpl.info under the “Programs” tab or by calling 631-549-4411.

Democrat Steve Stern, former Suffolk County legislator, and Republican hopeful Janet Smitelli to campaign

Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli, and Democrat Party candidate Steve Stern. File photos

A former Suffolk County legislator and a longtime Huntington political hopeful will face off to fill Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci’s (R) former state Assembly seat.

Democrat Steve Stern, who previously represented the 16th District in the Suffolk County Legislature, will campaign against Republican Party candidate Janet Smitelli in the April 24 special election to fill the
vacancy in the 10th District of the New York State Assembly.

“It’s going to be a very condensed campaign, a campaign where every second counts,” said Toni Tepe, chairwoman of the Huntington Republican Committee.

Janet Smitelli 

Smitelli was selected by the Suffolk County Republican Committee Feb. 12 after several candidates were screened, according to Tepe, and Lupinacci was part of the screening committee.

“I think she’s an excellent choice to fight for us in the state Legislature,” Lupinacci said. “She’s very involved in the community and has a great background in terms of public service. She has the background, the fortitude and the skills needed to represent the 10th Assembly District.”

I think she’s an excellent choice to fight for us in the state Legislature.”
— Chad Lupinacci

Smitelli is a civil litigator who has lived in Huntington for more than 20 years. A member of the Republican committee for more than 10 years, she is active locally with the Boy Scouts and has served as an assistant Scoutmaster.

In 2015, Smitelli ran an unsuccessful campaign against incumbent Suffolk County Legislator Lou D’Amaro (D-North Babylon) in the hopes of representing the 17th Legislative District. If elected in April, it would be her first time holding a political office, according to Tepe.

“I believe she will run a strong campaign and she is certainly a supporter of the Republican initiatives and agenda,” the party chairwoman said. “She will be very conscientious of constituent services and saving money for the taxpayers she represents.”

Steve Stern

Rich Schaffer, chairman of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, said Stern won his party’s nomination.

“I think he’s an excellent candidate,” said Mary Collins, chairwoman of the Huntington Town Democratic Committee, citing Stern’s record as a legislator. “He was very attentive to constituents and he worked on many issues that were important to his district.”

“[Stern] was very attentive to constituents and he worked on many issues that were important to his district.”— Mary Collins

Stern left the county Legislature Dec. 31, term limited from office after 12 years representing the 16th District. He sat on the Suffolk County Veterans and Seniors Committee and previously touted his accomplishments to include the Housing Our Homeless Heroes initiative, a package of bills that aimed to end veteran homelessness in Suffolk, and the creation of the Silver Alert system designed to locate missing senior citizens.

Stern called himself a leading proponent of sewer infrastructure development during his 2015 campaign. He co-sponsored legislation identifying what areas would be best served by sewers and choosing how to prioritize which neighborhoods get developed first, which he said was particularly crucial to Huntington.

The party whose candidate is elected April 24 to represent the 10th District will serve approximately 130,000 residents, according to 2010 census data, which includes all or part of Cold Spring Harbor, East Northport, Greenlawn, Lloyd Harbor, Lloyd Neck, Melville, Huntington and Huntington Station.

This story was last updated Feb. 16 @ 2:05 p.m. 

 

Photo by Alex Petroski Tom Suozzi speaks to voters. Photo by Alex Petroski.

Overall Suozzi earned 6,532 votes, Stern garnered 4,069 votes, Kaiman collected 4,060, Kaplan saw 2,815 and Clarke received 909

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) came out on top after Tuesday’s Democratic primary, beating out four other candidates vying for the nomination in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

After declaring victory, Suozzi was set to take on Republican state Sen. Jack Martins from Old Westbury in November for the seat of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). The former county executive and mayor of Glen Cove beat out Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman (D-Great Neck), North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan and attorney Jonathan Clarke Tuesday.

Israel announced back in January that he would not seek re-election after 15 years in Congress.

Overall Suozzi earned 6,532 votes, Stern garnered 4,069 votes, Kaiman collected 4,060, Kaplan saw 2,815 and Clarke received 909.

In Suffolk County alone, Stern took first with 2,540 votes, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, and Suozzi came in second with 1,044 votes. But Suozzi took the lead in Nassau County and Queens, with 3,977 votes and 1,511 respectively, according to each area’s board of elections.

Suozzi said Wednesday morning that he is excited to continue to work for his constituents after the support they showed for him last night.

“I am so grateful and appreciative to the voters… for supporting me in the Democratic primary,” he said in a statement.  “It is clear the people in the district are looking for someone who has the ability to cut through the blame-game, finger-pointing and yelling that’s coming out of Washington these days. I look forward to meeting and talking to all of the voters and have a discussion with both sides on many of the issues to come up with solid solutions.”

Suozzi served as county executive of Nassau from 2002-09 and mayor of Glen Cove from 1994-2001, but has been out of politics for about six years. He is a certified public accountant and is currently of counsel to Harris Beach law firm in Uniondale. He lives in Glen Cove with his wife Helene and their three children. In his time in office, Suozzi said he fought to root out corruption in state politics and was named environmentalist of the year by the New York League of Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental organization.

Stern said although he didn’t win, he intends to stand behind Suozzi in the general election.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas
Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas

“I ran for Congress to stand up for a woman’s right to choose, protect our precious environment and to end the [National Rifle Association’s] grip on Congress,” Stern said in a statement. “While we did not prevail at the polls, the fight for these critical issues — and to make Congress work for New York’s middle-class families again — goes on. Now, it is time for everyone to unite behind our nominee to ensure that our Congressional seat stays Democratic in November.”

Stern was backed by Israel, and is in his sixth term as a Suffolk County legislator in the 16th Legislative District. He is the chairman of the county’s Veterans Committee and has worked on many projects to help increase the quality of life for veterans on the North Shore.

Kaiman echoed Stern’s sentiment to rally behind the Democratic nominee.

“[Tom Suozzi] will be a strong and successful candidate in November and an effective representative come next year when he takes his seat as United States Congressman for the 3rd Congressional District of New York,” he said in an email.

Kaplan and Clarke did not immediately return calls for comment.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s announcement that would he would not see another term in the 3rd District, which spans from the North Shore of Queens through parts of Smithtown, has sparked discussion across the region about who will succeed him. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) is the latest to throw his hat into the race for the seat.

Israel (D-Huntington) made the decision two weeks ago that he would not be seeking re-election in November, and legislators and lawmakers from across Long Island have been declaring their intention to fight for his seat. This week, Stern said he believes his record sets him apart from the rest as a candidate who listens to his neighbors.

“My record tells a story, it highlights issues that are important to me,” Stern said in a phone interview. “When my neighbors see what’s happening in Washington, they think their voices are not being heard. I know I will be the congressman that hears them.”

He said his record has consistently supported the local issues that are important to the residents of the 3rd District and many pieces of legislation he has drafted have become state and national models.

Stern said that with his family in mind, he created the Safe and Sustainable Procurement Act, which bans baby products made with BPA, a chemical found in plastics that can seep into the food or beverages inside the plastic containers and have harmful health effects.

“It was the first legislative initiative banning these type of products throughout the entire country,” he said. “I was proud that this local bill was used a model for other jurisdictions.”

This act was eventually adopted by the New York State Senate, the European Union and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Protect Our Fallen Heroes Act is another piece of legislation Stern created that expanded to the national level. The purpose of this act, he said, was to protect the sanctity of funerals, specifically military funerals, from protesters.

Stern said this is now the adopted policy of all national cemeteries. The federal version of the bill, Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, was first enacted by Congress in 2012, two years after Stern’s original bill was drafted.

Recently, Stern worked with Israel to adopt Stern’s Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act into a federal bill to provide housing for homeless veterans.

Stern also said many of his initiatives were accomplished with bipartisan support on the county level.

“I have a proven leadership, working with colleagues from both parties,” he said. “The way that I have been able to do my job, it clearly shows I am a representative that is sorely needed in D.C.”

Israel has served in Congress for the last 15 years, and said that after this year he feels it is his time to step down and make room for a new perspective.

“While I will miss this place and the people I have had the privilege to serve, I am looking forward to spending more time home,” he said in a statement. “Simply put, it’s time to pass on the torch.”

Stern said Israel would be missed, but also said he is eager to continue his legacy, which includes continued support for veterans.

“I have had the great privilege of working with Congressman Steve Israel for the past 10 years,” Stern said in an email. “He has been an outstanding advocate for our community and especially for our men and women currently serving our great nation.”

Stern gave Israel kudos for his collaboration on the legislator’s Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act and said it was an honor to work alongside him.

Aside from Stern, Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) are among the North Shore politicians who intend to campaign for the seat. From Nassau County, North Hempstead Town Board member Anna Kaplan threw her hat into the ring.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern joins Congressman Steve Israel at the site of a zombie home in Dix Hills. Photo from Amanda Lindner.

One North Shore lawmaker’s proposal to provide housing to homeless veterans is now being used as a model for a federal bill.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) introduced the Housing Our Heroes Act this month, which creates a three-year federal pilot program that provides grants to purchase and renovate zombie homes for veterans use. That proposal reflects similar sentiments expressed in legislation Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) drafted last year.

The Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act, signed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in December 2014, allows for “zombie homes,” or tax-defaulted properties, in Suffolk County to be distributed to veterans.

“No soldier who has ever worn the uniform of our great nation and gone off to protect the ground we stand on should ever have to come home to sleep on it,” Stern said in a statement.

Israel’s legislation is an expansion on an act from Stern, who serves as chairman of the Veterans and Seniors Committee.

“My legislation will not only put a roof over our heroes’ heads, it will also transform unsightly zombie homes into renovated properties that will revitalize housing markets in many of our Long Island communities,” Israel said in a statement. “Whenever we get the opportunity to eliminate two problems with one sustainable solution, we should act on it.”

Israel’s proposal would make grants available to veteran service organizations, non-governmental organizations and homeless organizations. It is intended not only to house homeless veterans but also eliminate blight from neighborhoods, the lawmaker said.

Stern praised Israel’s legislation for helping to ensure “that our military heroes have a place to call home while turning blighted properties into houses fit for heroes.”

According to Stern, he and Israel always saw his act as a model to use at the federal level.

“I’m proud to say we implemented it at a local level,” Stern said in a phone interview. “What we started here is serving as a national model.”

One of the big differences between Stern and Israel’s acts is the funding.

Stern said at the local level, they are utilizing properties the government already owns because of foreclosure. Israel’s legislation doesn’t need to rely on those types of homes because of the funding they receive from grants, so “there is real opportunity for innovation with the spectrum of properties.”

He also said these two bills will complement each other going forward.

Approximately 50,000 homeless veterans are on the streets of the United States every day, including more than 2,500 in New York, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Blighted properties have been an ongoing issue in Huntington Town.

“Huntington residents have been dealing with the zombie home epidemic in our neighborhoods for far too long,” Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in a statement.

Edwards said Israel’s legislation would improve both the lives of veterans and the worth of Huntington resident’s homes.

At a press conference announcing Israel’s proposal on Nov. 9, Gina Raio Bitsimis, a Dix Hills resident and zombie home neighbor, thanked Israel for his commitment to tackle this problem.

“Zombie homes aren’t only eyesores in our neighborhood, they are actively reducing the value of our homes that we have worked so hard to maintain,” Bitsimis said in a statement. “My family and I will welcome these brave men and women into our neighborhood with open arms and look forward to the increase of both our quality of life and the value of our property.”

Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) previously drafted legislation to crack down on blighted properties, and said in a phone interview that the zombie house in Dix Hills, where the press conference was held was the exact house that inspired her to draft an anti-blight act.

“I saw the condition of the house and how it affected the neighbors,” she said. Her legislation includes a point system that determines if a property should be added to the town blight list and enters a restoration agreement with the town.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also said in 2009 that the homeless veteran population was more than 74,000 in a single night and last year more than one in ten of every homeless adult were a veteran.

At the press conference in Dix Hills, members of veteran organizations from Long Island spoke about the necessity of the bill.

“Placing homeless veterans in these homes will give them the opportunity and foundation they need to become independent successful members of our community,” said Frank Amalfitano, director of United Veterans Beacon House.

Beth Gabellini, regional director of Long Island Supportive Services for Veteran Families echoed the sentiment.

“After fighting for our country, veterans deserve every opportunity possible to help get back on their feet and on track,” she said.

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