Political Endorsements

State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci. File photo by Rohma Abbas

Truth be told, this was the most difficult endorsement decision we had to come to during this election cycle.

New York State Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) is looking for his fourth term in office, and challenger Ed Perez (D) is a formidable opponent. In the end, we stand by Lupinacci. He has supported water quality legislation, heroin legislation and worked to increase financial aid opportunities for SUNY students. He is also still acutely aware of the local problems facing his area, like the rash of violent incidents Huntington Station has seen in the past few years. We believe Lupinacci will continue to have a positive impact on his district and will both draft and support bills that will improve the quality of life for his constituents.

We were almost swayed by Perez. He is exactly what a voter should want of a candidate: a resident who has lived in the area for many years, is deeply involved in local organizations and has a record of working to improve his community. Perez was also up to date on the issues facing the 10th district. We believe he has a very strong chance of winning another race — if he chooses to run again. In fact, we hope he does.

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.

State Sen. John Flanagan. File photo

We admire Peter Magistrale (D) for running against a political institution like John Flanagan (R-East Northport) at such a young age. He is very passionate about statutes of limitation regarding sexual abuse claims, an issue we’d be glad to see him continue to fight for regardless of the outcome of this election. His idealism is an asset that could serve the community in the future. We also have heard enough from Stephen Ruth to consider his cause regarding red light cameras and yellow light times something worth looking into as a community.

However, we are endorsing John Flanagan to retain his seat as the state senator for New York’s 2nd Senate District. We support him both for what he has already accomplished in his 14 years in the position — like the fights he gladly took up against the Gap Elimination Adjustment and heroin abuse in his district and beyond — and for what we hope he can bring to the district in the future. He is constantly visible, available and receptive to his constituents and has helped along with State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) to make Stony Brook University what it is today, which is a tremendous asset to the community.

We certainly hope Magistrale continues to look to serve his community, but for this election and this seat, we enthusiastically stand by Flanagan.

Anna Throne-Holst. Photo by Phil Corso
Anna Throne-Holst. Photo by Phil Corso

Freshman Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has done some admirable things for constituents of the 1st district. A veteran himself, with four years of active duty — including a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and nine years in the Army Reserves — he has done a lot for Long Island veterans. He was also instrumental in the signing into law of an amendment that bears his name, allowing states to opt out of Common Core without fear that there will be any loss of federal funding as a result. That’s a victory for the nearly unanimous animus we’ve heard candidates express for the program this fall.

Challenger Anna Throne-Holst (D) was elected four times to the Southampton Town Board and, as town supervisor, fixed financial problems, streamlined the budget and put the reallocated funds to use improving quality of life for Southampton residents. And she did this while in the minority, working with Republicans. Now she hopes to bring that skill set to Congress and we’d like to see her do it.

These are both hard-working, dedicated politicians, but one aligns with our values and ideals better. Only Throne-Holst believes in background checks for gun purchasers, revamping the existing Affordable Care Act, protecting a woman’s right to choose and overturning Citizen’s United.

We endorse Anna Throne-Holst to be our next congressperson.           

Jack Martins. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.
Jack Martins. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

The congressional race between Tom Suozzi (D) and Jack Martins (R) in the 3rd district is an exciting one, with no incumbent and thus no clear front-runner.

After listening to both candidates, we were more impressed with Martins’ points of view and ideas to improve New York. While Martins is running on the Republican ticket, he was not afraid to stray from his party’s traditional ideologies, including his stance on the funding of Planned Parenthood, gun control reform and climate change. Martins described himself as a man in the middle, and we would agree. For example, while he is pro-life, Martins said he does not support defunding Planned Parenthood and believes intimate health decisions should not involve government officials. He has a proven record of bringing improvements to the area he served in the New York State Senate, and he also brought up some of the projects he was defeated on, showing that he understands the need to listen to a community when they don’t support ideas. We believe he would do the same for the 3rd Congressional District.

It’s also important to note Martins came into our office for an interview, and Suozzi was only able to speak on the phone, which is a less effective forum.

Suozzi also has a long record of public service, and he certainly understands the problems facing the district. He has some great ideas to improve New York, but when you can only chose one, we chose Martins.

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Susan Berland and Gene Cook talk at a Huntington Town Board meeting. File photo

There’s a lot of fire in the race for Huntington Town Board this year: You could see unfriendly sparks flying between incumbents Susan Berland (D), of Dix Hills, and Gene Cook (I), of Greenlawn, at a debate hosted by TBR Newspapers. Passion for public office is one thing these two have in common, and that’s where the similarities end.

But it’s that, coupled with their experience in the positions and unique political strengths that this paper endorses Berland and Cook for four-year terms on the board.

Say what you will about Berland, who is unpopular in Elwood for her controversial vote in favor of rezoning land to make way for The Seasons at Elwood — a huge condominium development geared toward the 55-and-up community — but the councilwoman works hard; it is her full-time job. She has also worked to sponsor legislation that’s made a difference, including laws that help put an end to blight and legislation to regulate the invasive bamboo, which can frequently be a nuisance to neighbors.

Cook’s greatest strength lies in being the sole minority party member on the board, and his willingness to speak up when something fishy is going on, whether he’s right or wrong. The Democratic-majority board members fall in line on mostly all votes, and Cook is often the one to keep Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) on his toes. Dissension is important: It encourages compromise and analysis, and prevents elected officials from slipping controversial measures past residents.

This wasn’t an easy choice. Democrat Keith Barrett, of Huntington Station, is a fine candidate. He has good ideas and has already reduced expenses and reorganized services as head of the town’s general services department. With a few more years under his belt, he’d be ready to take another stab at Town Board.

While Republican Jennifer Thompson possesses great communication skills and the right attitude, she would be stronger in her current role on the Northport-East Northport school board.

Vote for Cook and Berland on Tuesday.

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Steve Stern file photo

Ending veteran homelessness in Suffolk, seemingly an impossible feat, is something Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) says he’s confident he can declare if given one more term in office in an election next week.

We endorse Stern. Not because of this vow. But because of the steps he’s taken to try and achieve this goal.

The legislator spearheaded a package of bills to attack the scourges of Suffolk County’s veteran homelessness problem. The bills propose to do so in a number of ways, including making properties available for veteran housing, working with nonprofits to offer greater services to vets and more.

He’s spent 10 years in office and he’s vying for his final two-year term before he is term limited.

While his challenger Republican Tom McNally, also of Dix Hills, has thought of some solutions to fix the county’s finances, we feel his plans need some work. Cutting from departments across the board may not be the best approach in certain cases.

Aside from his work on the ground with veterans, Stern chairs the county’s Veterans & Seniors Committee. In that role, he’s worked to help both populations while also saving the county money. He found a way to reorganize a program that provided free legal assistance to seniors funded by the county and the feds by getting Tauro Law school involved. The school now manages the program, and the county keeps the money it used to spend on it.

Experience is invaluable, and for that, coupled with his achievements, we say elect Stern to a final term in office next Tuesday.

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Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Experience and track record are the name of the game in this year’s Smithtown Town Board race, and on that note, we endorse Republican incumbents Bob Creighton and Ed Wehrheim.

The two work well as a team, and say they have downtown revitalization high up on both their lists of priorities for another term.

They’ve backed a proposal to restructure Smithtown government to lead to more accountability and cooperation. The plan would involve creating four commissioner positions that would oversee about five to six department heads, compared to the 26 department heads currently answering to the supervisor. That plan stalled due to opposition from Republican Supervisor Pat Vecchio.

When it comes to economic development, both men encourage it. Wehrheim said he helped facilitate the redevelopment of the Smith Haven Mall and assisted in bringing Bob’s Discount Furniture to the Smithtown area. With Wehrheim’s support, Creighton also pitched raising the minimum wage, which eventually made its way into the town’s 2016 preliminary budget.

It will be an uphill battle at the polls next Tuesday for Creighton, as he won’t be running on the Republican line. That spot belongs to Lisa Inzerillo, a Republican who narrowly beat him out in a primary election on a rainy day — the perfect storm for low voter turnout.

Inzerillo did not show up for a debate at the Times of Smithtown’s headquarters.

Democratic challenger Larry Vetter is a knowledgeable, nice man, who strikes us as creative, energetic, bright and pragmatic. It would be great to see him take on some government position. But we feel right now is not his time as councilman.

Vote Creighton and Wehrheim on Election Day.

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Legislator Tom Muratore, center. File photo by Rachel Shapiro

Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) said he doesn’t consider himself a politician but, instead, a man of the people. We agree.

Muratore, who was first elected to the Legislature in 2009, has plenty of evidence to back that up as he seeks his fourth term.

He stood up to the county Legislature alongside fellow Republicans earlier this month to call for changes to the Red Light Safety Program, with hopes of finding a fairer approach. He raised his voice alongside other county Republicans to push for more fiscal responsibility, but did not allow it to get in the way of advocacy for community-centric programming. He helped usher in key parkland projects throughout his Middle Country-centered district, including new baseball fields and walking paths.

He also kept his finger on the pulse of his district by listening to constituent concerns surrounding taxes and public safety, and making them key components of his agenda. He even took a proactive lead on one of the county’s first cracks at regulating the usage of drones, using it as a springboard to discuss privacy issues; and sponsored legislation establishing “safe spots” throughout the county to eradicate robberies stemming from online commerce.

On the issue of combatting Suffolk County’s drug epidemic, we stand behind Muratore in his approach. Muratore said the county needs to kill the roots of the drug problem by putting more police on the beat, performing outreach and targeting dealers.

Muratore’s Democratic opponent, Jonathan Rockfeld of Islip Terrace, has not actively campaigned.

Come Election Day, we say vote for Muratore.

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Martha Luft photo by Giselle Barkley

Martha Luft has served as a judge in Suffolk County Family Court for the past decade, and her experience and compassion while serving are why she deserves another term.

She is no stranger to serving in emotional courtrooms and meeting face-to-face with some of the most vulnerable members of our society. She comes to the job with humility, and the passion she shows while discussing different aspects of her work is impressive.

Some of the driving qualities she said keep her going include patience, communication and an ability to deliver tough love for those who need it most while still operating with compassion and understanding. She said she often calls on her experience as a mother of three and a grandmother of as many to guide her when working to balance her heart with her mind in her judgeship.

In her re-election bid, she faces off against Marlene Budd, George Harkin Jr. and Matthew Hughes. But of the four candidates seeking the two judgeships up for election this year, Luft was the only one rated highly qualified for the position, according to an Independent Judicial Election Qualifications Commissions report.

Luft is an exceptional candidate with a track record that supports our conviction.

She told us she loves family court. She said she thinks she found her calling, and so do we. Re-elect Martha Luft for Suffolk County Family Court judge.