2024 Elections

Sarah Anker. Photo courtesy Sarah Anker

By Aidan Johnson

Former county Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) has announced she will be running for the District 1 state Senate seat currently held by Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk).

“I am running for the New York State Senate because we need a strong voice in the majority to put people above politics and deliver for Suffolk County,” Anker said in her Feb. 5 press release.

“For close to 13 years, as a full-time Suffolk County legislator, I have listened to the concerns of my constituents and took action to address them,” she added.

Anker was first elected as the Suffolk County legislator for the 6th District after winning a special election in 2011, being reelected six times before stepping down in 2023 due to term limits.

In a phone interview, Anker said that she first got involved in local politics when she moved to Long Island and read about tritium, a radioactive substance, that was leaking into the local groundwater.

“I read it in the papers and it made me want to get more involved to see what was being done … and I joined the Democratic Party back then to get a better understanding of how to get things done working with the elected officials,” she said.

In the press release, Anker cited her accomplishments during her time as a legislator as including chairing the county Addiction Prevention and Support Advisory Panel, addressing environmental issues through supporting the acquisition of open space to protect drinking water and cleaning up pollution in Long Island Sound, also initiating expediting the health permit process for businesses.

“As a Democrat who has represented a Republican district, I will continue to find common ground for the common good by bringing people together and setting politics aside,” she said.

If elected, Anker said her first priority would be to identify what the state legislators feel are Long Island’s main concerns in order to establish common ground to move issues forward.

“One of [the issues] we’ve had … was when the governor [Kathy Hochul (D)] came and she wanted to take control over local housing and development, and it wasn’t accepted in a positive way,” Anker said, stressing the importance of communication between the senators, governor and legislators “to try to understand where they’re coming from.”

Anker’s top priorities for the state Senate include supporting law enforcement and “working on common sense measures to keep New Yorkers safe, being a leader on policy to support clean water and open space funding, including ensuring that we receive our fair share of New York State Environmental Bond Act funds, supporting fair school aid so school districts have reliable and stable funding” and “supporting New York women’s right to choose and access to health care.”

“The reality is, the state Senate has a 42-21 Democratic supermajority, and the only way Suffolk County can get its fair share is to have strong voices in the majority who will fight for our Long Island values,” Anker said in the press release.

For more information, visit her website at sarahanker.com. The election will be held on Nov. 5.

By Aidan Johnson

Three out of the four Democratic congressional candidates for District 1 — Nancy Goroff, Kyle Hill and Craig Herskowitz — attended a meet-the-candidates night at the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee headquarters Tuesday, Feb. 6. During the meeting, the candidates addressed why they are running, their most important issues and policies they would support. The fourth candidate, former District 5 state Sen. James Gaughran [D-Northport], was unable to attend. The current congressional seat is held by Nick LaLota (R).

Introductions

Goroff, who has formerly served as the chair of the chemistry department at Stony Brook University, and previously ran for the congressional seat in 2020 against former Congressman Lee Zeldin (R), said that she was running “to protect our right to bodily autonomy” and “to build an economy that’s going to work for everybody,” along with environmental issues such as coastal erosion, climate change and water quality.

Herskowitz has interned for Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy (D) and Rep. Steve Israel (D). The candidate believes that his “judicial, legislative and executive experience, as well as criminal prosecution and criminal defense experience,” which includes him working at the Office of the General Counsel in the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI and the Department of Justice, before being appointed as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), before working as a criminal defense attorney and being appointed as an administrative law judge within the New York City Department of Finance, will allow him to connect with the congressional district. 

Hill went to graduate school at Stony Brook University, after which he worked for Israel on Capitol Hill, where he “became a health care policy expert.” He worked on rallying congressional support to update the organ transplant rules, and since coming back to Long Island, he has become a volunteer EMT and is involved with the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. He has become frustrated “every single day with [Congress’s] dysfunction,” and believes that by winning the CD1 seat, along with gaining a Democratic majority, Congress can function better. 

Health care

Hill would support passing the Social Security 2100 Act, which, among other things, would change the current law that caps earnings subject to the Social Security tax which, at the time the bill was introduced, was $160,200, but now stands at $168,600, to instead have earnings over $400,000 once again be subjected to the tax. However, all earnings in between would not be subject to the tax. He also said that it is necessary to build upon incentives for doctors and health care agencies to keep folks healthy and out of the hospital

Herskowitz said that he was “the only candidate in this race that’s supporting Medicare for All” and said that “we need to make sure people are paying their fair share of taxes,” and that “people that are damaging our environment are paying more for our health care system because they are the ones who are polluting our water, polluting our air.” He also said that “we need to find ways to ensure that Social Security is available to everyone.”

Goroff called Social Security and Medicare “two of our most successful government programs ever.” She said that it is necessary to “lift the cap on salary at which we take Social Security taxes,” adding, “That one change would make Social Security and Medicare both financially secure going into the future.” She also said that the age to receive Medicare should be reduced. 

Voter engagement

Herskowitz said that it is important to fight against misinformation, activate the voters and get people excited to vote, adding that a strong grassroots campaign was necessary to make sure “every single voter is touched, several times throughout the campaign, to make sure that people come out to vote.” He also said that it was necessary to appeal to the moderate center voters.

Hill said that “we’ve seen cycle over cycle that the Democrats who are coming out to vote have become fewer and fewer and more folks are registering as unaffiliated,” adding that it was necessary to figure out why they are not coming out to vote, and that it was necessary to have a message that brings out both Democrats and those in the middle. He said that Democrats need to lean into their strengths, citing issues such as infrastructure, drug pricing reform and the cost-of-living crisis.

Goroff said that in order to get people to vote who don’t automatically do so, or who vote for either a Democrat or a Republican, “it’s not about the issues, it’s about them believing that this person is going to represent them.” She said that she is committed to making sure voters know who she is as a person, educator and community leader, adding that it matters that they know they would have someone working hard for them “versus somebody who is just spewing talking points.”

Climate change

Hill said that he supports changing every car that the federal government owns to an electric vehicle, including from government agencies such as the post office. “We can use the purchasing power of the federal government to shape the market and make EVs more available, bringing down the price, make it more accessible, have more charging stations everywhere, and that’s something the federal government directly controls and already has its hands on,” he added.

Herskowitz said that it was necessary to move away from fossil fuels and invest in technologies that could remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere and nitrate from the soil and ground that leaks into the water. He also said that it was important to combat misinformation surrounding renewable energy.

Goroff said that the United States should be carbon neutral in energy production by 2035, and in transportation and buildings, along with the rest of the economy, by 2050. She supports the Inflation Reduction Act, which would invest in clean energy: “We need to be investing in clean energy and technologies now, making sure that we’re having proper oversight, and investing in new technologies for the future.”

Immigration

Goroff said that DACA recipients need a pathway to citizenship, and that it’s important to recognize the challenges for communities in getting resources for large numbers of migrants and nonnative English speakers. “The only way we can deal with that fairly is for the federal government to make sure that for school districts, like in Riverhead where they have very large numbers of nonnative speakers of English, that they’re getting adequate funding for those programs,” she said.

Herskowitz said that the vast majority of people who are in this country illegally do so by coming here legally and overstaying their visas, and clarified that coming to the border and requesting asylum is 100% legal, adding that more judges are needed to adjudicate asylum claims. “The migrants that are here want to work, and they should be able to work, and we should be able to expedite [that] so they can work, they can pay taxes, they can contribute to the economy,” he said, adding that comprehensive immigration reform was needed because “obviously the immigration system is broken.”

Hill said that it is necessary to address what’s causing the issues, “which is the rampant gang violence in Central America. Part of all of these comprehensive solutions has been greater investment in our southern neighbors to make sure there’s economic development [and] a reason to stay in their home.” He added, “Every time these comprehensive packages don’t end up happening, those things get left off the table.” He also said the budget, which Congress has yet to pass, would be an opportunity to address the concerns by “more appropriately [targeting] our foreign aid,” and better funding for the Department of Justice “so that judges can adjudicate asylum claims so that folks can enter society and be part of the society.”

The Democratic primary is on June 25. 

Goroff speaks to supporters at fundraising event on Jan. 18. Photo by Lynn Hallarman

By Lynn Hallarman

Talk to anyone about why they attended Nancy Goroff’s kickoff fundraiser event for the U.S. House of Representatives Democratic primary election for New York District 1, and they will mostly say the same thing: “She is smart, and she’s sane.”

Goroff, a Stony Brook resident, worked on perfecting her stump speech in front of a friendly crowd of supporters last Thursday night, Jan. 18, at the Port Jefferson Village Center. She seemed unconcerned about her primary competition, aiming most of her comments at incumbent Nick LaLota (R–NY1). 

“LaLota likes to talk about stuff but hasn’t done anything for the district,” Goroff said, in an interview with TBR News Media. 

A newcomer to politics in 2020, Goroff lost the House race by 55%-45% to four-time incumbent Lee Zeldin (R). But now Goroff sees this election cycle as winnable against first-termer, LaLota, who won the seat against former Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) in 2022. 

Goroff’s concerns now are the new redistricting maps currently being drawn by the state’s bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission to be filed by Feb. 28. 

“We’ll deal with whatever we get, but we feel pretty good about where the district is right now,” she said. 

Goroff, 55, has spent her adult life in Suffolk County, raising her two children and building a career as a scientist at Stony Brook University. Her pedigree is pure university professor. Starting with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University in 1990 and a doctorate in chemistry from UCLA, Goroff then devoted her career to basic science research as faculty in the Department of Chemistry at SBU and then the department chair. She retired from her position in 2021 to focus on her political career. 

Goroff looked nonplussed at the assertion from some of her primary opponents that her academic credentials do not add up to enough experience working in government. 

Anyone that thinks that “hasn’t worked at a university,” she said. 

She sees her years navigating a career as a woman scientist and educator in a large state university as an asset. “I’m also the daughter of small business owners,” she said. “These things give me knowledge and experience that will be helpful as a policymaker.” If she wins in the general election in November, she will be the first woman basic research scientist in the House of Representatives.

Several of her former Stony Brook colleagues showed up for the event, commenting to TBR that Goroff’s leadership superpower is her ability to coalition build and work as a team member. They believe this makes her candidacy especially strong in the politically purple landscape of eastern Long Island. 

After losing the house race to Zeldin, Goroff did not retreat into an academic ivory tower, instead, she leveraged her skills to co-found the nonprofit Long Island Strong Schools Alliance. 

“Most candidates disappear after they lose— not Nancy,” said longtime supporter Shirley Hudson. 

Goroff explained that LISSA focuses on making sure Long Island public schools are places where children are welcomed regardless of their background. 

“We saw right-wing extremists win three school board seats in Smithtown in 2021, who had no interest in supporting public education,” she said. “They were trying to undermine it and make it fit their extremist ideology.” 

Goroff places the protection and well-being of children at the center of most of her policy positions, arguing that Long Island needs to be a safe and affordable place to work and raise a family.

“People are struggling,” she said. “Housing is a chronic issue on Long Island because of the cost.” 

Besides Goroff, other declared Democratic primary candidates to date are construction worker Andy DeCecco, former state Sen. James Gaughran (D-Northport), administrative law judge Craig Herskowitz and former Capitol Hill senior legislative aide Kyle Hill. 

The Democratic primary election is scheduled for June 25.

Skyler Johnson (left) and Rebecca Kassay (far right) at the Three Village Democratic Club meet the candidates event. Photo courtesy Serena Carpino

By Serena Carpino

Three Village Democratic Club held a meet-the-candidates night at the Setauket Neighborhood House Jan. 11. The two candidates, Skyler Johnson (D-Port Jefferson Station) and Rebecca Kassay (D-Port Jefferson), hope to represent New York State Assembly District 4, a seat currently occupied by Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson). At the campaign event, Johnson and Kassay discussed pressing issues facing Long Island. 

Johnson, 23, has served in multiple leadership roles. He is on the board of the directors of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the chair of the Suffolk County Young Democrats. He is also on the board of Temple Beth Emeth of Mount Sinai, the synagogue in which he was raised and is currently working for the Sound Justice Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to educating incarcerated individuals. 

Johnson has spent much of his political career in Albany and helped pass the Fair Access to Victim Compensation Act. He has been endorsed by former Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant as well as several members of the New York State Assembly and Suffolk County Legislature.

Johnson’s opponent, Rebecca Kassay, possesses both political and entrepreneurship experience. The 34-year-old is currently deputy mayor in the Village of Port Jefferson and a village trustee. Kassay is also a member of the Port Jefferson Rotary Club and owns with her husband The Fox and Owl Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in Port Jefferson. 

In 2013, Kassay was involved in creating a teen environmental program at Avalon Nature Preserve, as she hoped to “​​get them off their phones, get their hands dirty and build their confidence about [being] the future environmental stewards of this area.” During the COVID-19 pandemic Kassay contacted local community members who had been handmaking masks helping them to create a legitimate organization. With Kassay’s intervention, the group was able to donate over 40,000 homemade masks. 

The candidates discussed many issues, but two topics dominated the night: affordable housing and the climate crisis. 

When asked about the biggest issue currently facing New York state, both Johnson and Kassay agreed that it is the high cost of living. “We have a crisis on housing on our hands – of affordable housing,” Johnson said. He further explained that, for him, affordable housing is defined as that which is accessible to families who make between 60% and 120% of the area median income. Here, that would equate to an apartment rent of $1,700 per month. “I checked [how many apartments would be available] — about three. And I’m sure one of them is an illegal basement apartment,” he joked. 

The candidates also talked about recent environmental problems on Long Island. They addressed the latest extreme weather events including the severe rainstorms and flooding. 

Kassay reassured the audience that she wanted, “in no uncertain terms, for voters to know that the Democratic Party is the party that’s going to lead the way to make an economically and environmentally sustainable Long Island.”

The candidates were then asked about New York’s immigration crisis. 

Both Johnson and Kassay pointed out that immigrants are an important part of this country and pay a significant amount of taxes. They agreed that they would both like to see comprehensive immigration reform and a change in the attitude of how America views immigrants. 

Johnson further said, “Those who say that immigrants are not welcome are almost never on the right side of history,” and explained that much of the negative commentary about immigrants is “a fake narrative to throw immigrants under the bus.”

Finally, the candidates called out Flood’s voting record and criticized his stance on certain legislation. 

Flood’s consistent support for anti-vaccination movements is most embarrassing to Kassay. She disagrees with Flood’s position, especially given the presence of Stony Brook University in the district. She explained, “As an assemblywoman here I would be looking to the university for help instead of embarrassing them and embarrassing the entire district by going forth with anti-vax legislation and having that be a mark on the community.”

Johnson agreed and said that Flood has “taken some really egregious stances in his short tenure in Albany.” In particular, he pointed out Flood’s opposition to abortion care, LGBTQ+ rights and other bills “simply because Democrats proposed [them].”

He encouraged the audience to go on votesmart.org and further look into Flood’s voting records. 

 In their closing remarks, the candidates left the stage with powerful statements. 

“We really can’t afford to lose this race. Our community has been suffering under the leadership or lack thereof of Ed Flood.” Kassay said. “This campaign is about reconnecting people to the government that was built to serve and protect them — it’s about Long Island’s overwhelming cost of living and the climate crisis. It’s about defending women’s choice regarding their own bodies and then going up to that legislative body and doing a little more to make it more representative of our population.”

In his closing remarks, Johnson said, “I announced that I was running on Nov. 18. On Nov. 19, Jesse Garcia, the chair of the Suffolk GOP, had a quote in the paper attacking me.” He further explained that other Republicans attacked him on Twitter, and GOP members across the state liked those tweets. “So,” he said, “if you are not sure who will beat Ed Flood, just remember: The Republicans are worried about what would happen should I become the nominee.”

Family and supporters surround Sklyer Johnson during his announcement for New York's 4th Assembly District. Photo by Raymond Janis

Less than two weeks after Election Day, the candidate pool for New York’s 4th Assembly District is already crowded.

Skyler Johnson (D-Port Jefferson Station), chair of the Suffolk County Young Democrats, declared his candidacy for District 4 in downtown Port Jefferson on Saturday, Nov. 18. The announcement comes just days after Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay, also a Democrat, announced her bid for the seat. [See story, “Port Jeff’s deputy mayor announces run for New York State Assembly,” Nov. 15, TBR News Media.]

Freshman state Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) currently represents the 4th Assembly District. Last November, Flood unseated former state Assemblyman — and current Suffolk County Legislator-elect — Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), who had held the seat for three decades.

Skyler Johnson, chair of the Suffolk County Young Democrats, launches his campaign for New York’s 4th Assembly District on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Mary Bayles Park in Port Jefferson. Photo by Raymond Janis

During an announcement event at Mary Bayles Park, surrounded by family and supporters, Johnson indicated he decided to run to address the high cost of living within the area. “I am from this district, and I am struggling to afford the cost of living on Long Island,” he said. “People of my generation, and of every other age group, are facing the exact same struggle.”

He added, “I am running because I think I can make a difference on those key issues, especially on the environment, on housing and, like I said, on cost of living.”

Johnson first threw his hat in the ring in 2020 and again in 2022, both unsuccessful bids for state senate. Before pursuing elective office, he worked under former Southampton Village Mayor Jesse Warren. Johnson is currently a nonprofit consultant and previously served as director of development, communications and advocacy for Brentwood-based New Hour for Women & Children LI.

Johnson pledged to address a range of issues, such as expanding abortion access, promoting criminal justice reform and protecting the environment.

Highlighting on the event’s location, the Democratic candidate noted that Port Jeff — originally called Drowned Meadow — is particularly vulnerable to flooding and related environmental calamities.

“A single flood could wipe out millions of dollars worth of property in Port Jefferson at any moment,” he said. “Across the district, we need to make sure that we are fighting the drastic effects of climate change and that we are properly working with our state to make sure that we are finding ways to prevent this flooding.”

Johnson referred to housing costs as “at an all-time high, and wages have stagnated.” He underscored the phenomenon of vacant storefronts throughout commercial districts within AD4.

“We need to make sure that we are reforming our tax laws coming down from Albany,” he said, supporting “working with municipalities to do so, so that small businesses benefit from tax breaks, not just Amazon or Walmart or these giant corporations that eat up our real estate and do not create the same level of community engagement that our small businesses do.”

The Suffolk Young Democrats chair pointed to public transit as another area for improvement from the state, saying district residents “are struggling to get to work,” the lack of transit options hampering those who do not have access to or cannot afford an automobile.

“We’re going, if I’m elected, to bring money back to Suffolk County — back to Assembly District 4 — to invest in public transportation,” he said. “And at the same time, we’re going to make sure that the third rail of Port Jeff’s [branch of the Long Island Rail Road] is electrified finally.”

In his announcement address, Johnson said he would “fight for those in our community who have been underserved for years,” adding, “We have about one year to go, and every day I’m going to work for you now and in Albany.”

Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay is a declared candidate for New York State’s 4th Assembly District. Photo by Jen Romonoyske, courtesy Rebecca Kassay

Just over a week after Election Day, the 2024 election season is already underway.

Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay has exclusively announced her campaign for New York State’s 4th Assembly District. She is running as a Democrat.

The 4th District seat is currently held by New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson), who unseated former Assemblyman — and Suffolk County Legislator-elect — Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) in 2022, who had occupied the seat since 1992.

Kassay entered the Village of Port Jefferson Board of Trustees in 2020 and was appointed deputy mayor earlier this year. During her tenure in village government, she has served as trustee liaison to the Building Department and Planning Board; the Conservation Advisory, Six-Acre Park and Tree committees; and was appointed the village’s inaugural sustainability commissioner.

Before entering public life, she worked as a youth environmental volunteer program director at Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook. She is also a small business owner, operating The Fox and Owl Inn bed-and-breakfast on Main Street in Port Jefferson with her husband Andrew Thomas since 2014.

Kassay outlined the motivations guiding her campaign.

“I’m running for the New York State Assembly because we need leaders who understand that governance which truly reflects the voices, needs and concerns of their constituents starts with listening,” Kassay said in a statement. “In the village government, there are no national political party affiliations. I am practiced in working with anybody who is interested in pursuing commonsense, balanced solutions to ongoing challenges.”

Kassay described several quality-of-life concerns as “screaming for representation” in Albany, such as housing scarcity and the unaffordable standard of living in District 4. She said the state government must help create housing opportunities while conforming to the existing suburban character of local communities.

“I know that one-size-fits-all plans and mandates have tried to come down from the state, and while they try to address problems, they’re not suitable for the variety of unique communities within our area,” she said in an interview. “We need to find ways that we can support the creation of more housing opportunities for the middle class while preserving that suburban lifestyle.”

The Port Jeff deputy mayor identified various environmental challenges facing the 4th District, offering to leverage her environmental advocacy background toward climate-resilient policies.

“I really look at climate resilience as something that’s part of almost every dynamic conversation that government is having at this point,” she indicated.

Kassay referred to health care as another policy concern, citing soaring health care expenses as a barrier to entrepreneurship and economic development. “A lot of folks here who might set out as entrepreneurs or small business owners might be held back by health insurance as a barrier, so I really want to work to address that and make that more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs, specifically, but also for everyone else who is interacting with the state health insurance market,” she said.

Among other ideas, Kassay said she would use the office to pursue greater public investment in mental health services, target the opioid crisis, apply pressure on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for improved services along the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road and expand coordination between the state and local levels of government.

Kassay’s current term as village trustee expires in July 2024. She stated she will not seek reelection for village office.

“I really look forward to serving not only Port Jefferson village residents but the residents throughout the district of AD4 from Stony Brook and all the way down to Gordon Heights, using the skills and relationships I’ve built at the village level and leveraging those skills all throughout the district,” she said.

To read Kassay’s entire statement, click here.

Village of Port Jefferson Deputy Mayor Rebecca Kassay is a declared candidate for New York State’s 4th Assembly District. Photo by Marvin Tejada, courtesy Rebecca Kassay

The following is a press release from the campaign of Rebecca Kassay.

Rebecca Kassay, a dedicated community organizer, elected official and entrepreneur has declared her candidacy for the New York State Assembly in the November 2024 electoral cycle. With a proven track record of impactful community engagement, Kassay steps up to represent the communities of Assembly District 4 at the state level.

Kassay dove into local community service as an intern-turned-program director at Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook. Beginning in 2011, she created and directed a youth environmental volunteer program, connecting hundreds of Suffolk County teens with dozens of nonprofits, municipal branches and stewardship projects throughout Long Island.

Kassay and the teens tackled volunteer efforts such as native habitat restoration, species surveys, organic gardening, beach cleanups, trail maintenance and educational signage creation.

Over the course of seven years, she built upon her aptitude and passion for empowering young stewards with practicable, tangible ways to make a difference in their communities. The program was awarded the Robert Cushman Murphy Memorial Award by Three Village Historical Society and recognized by the Brookhaven Youth Bureau.

In 2013, Kassay purchased and restored a historic Victorian home on Main Street in Port Jefferson with her husband, Andrew Thomas. A year later, they opened the doors of The Fox and Owl Inn bed-and-breakfast.

As the inn’s proprietor, Kassay has hosted countless tourists drawn in by the area’s rich history and natural beauty, as well as the family, friends and visitors of local residents and institutions for over nine years. On behalf of her small business, she is a proud and active member of the Rotary Club of Port Jefferson and Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

“I am a devoted member of the vast, dynamic community of folks who want to maintain and improve quality of life throughout and beyond the district,” Kassay said. “I am in constant awe at the individuals and groups who consistently advocate for solutions to their concerns and further their worthy goals. By uniting over shared interests and intentions, we as neighbors overcome our differences and rebuild the community’s strength. It will be my greatest honor to represent and support these voices in state-level conversations as well as local actions.”

In 2019, Kassay took her commitment to community action to new heights by creating and filming a documentary series titled “Be The Change with Rebecca.” This immersive series, currently in post-production, adopts a “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”-style approach to showcase the power of volunteerism and inspire others to roll up their sleeves to get involved. This experience further deepened Kassay’s understanding of community issues and the importance of both grassroots efforts and government response.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Kassay mobilized her community network and organizational skills to establish and lead a pop-up initiative, Long Island Open Source Medical Supplies. In under three months, a core team of volunteer administrators and hundreds of Long Islanders created, donated and delivered over 40,000 pieces of lifesaving, spirit-lifting homemade personal protective equipment and comfort care items to local essential workers and patients at hundreds of medical facilities, institutions and businesses.

In collaboration with Suffolk County Police Asian Jade Society, Amo Long Island, local Scout troops and many others, LIOSMS also organized a food drive, collecting 2,500 items to stock local food pantries. LIOSMS was recognized with Suffolk County’s 2020 Operation HOPE COVID-19 Responder Award.

Kassay is a SUNY New Paltz graduate with a major in environmental studies and a minor in communications and media. Her community work was recognized by her alma mater with a 40 Under 40 Award in 2017, and she has since returned as a panelist at conferences such as the SUNY New Paltz Women’s Leadership Summit.

Kassay has served as an elected Port Jefferson Village trustee since 2020, and now serves as the village’s deputy mayor. Her consistent incorporation of climate resilience strategies, transit-oriented development practices and heightened community involvement into village conversations has demonstrated her dedication to creating a sustainable, harmonious future. 

She has led successful initiatives to establish a community garden on Beach Street; plan for the revitalization of village parkland; install beach cleanup stations along village waterfront; establish a resident election task force to research term lengths and limits; and form intermunicipal relationships to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government.

“I’m running for the New York State Assembly because we need leaders who understand that governance which truly reflects the voices, needs and concerns of their constituents starts with listening,” Kassay said. “In the village government, there are no national political party affiliations. I am practiced in working with anybody who is interested in pursuing commonsense, balanced solutions to ongoing challenges.”

Rebecca Kassay’s candidacy represents a continuation of her lifelong commitment to fostering community connections, proactively confronting concerns and advocating for a sustainable and resilient future. Kassay will officially launch her campaign at an event early in the new year.

“I look forward to continuing conversations with new and familiar community partners and rising to serve at the state level, where I can work further for the well-being of my constituents and all fellow New Yorkers.”

For more information or to contact the campaign, email [email protected].