Running for her sixth term in office, Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she wants to finish all that she has started if reelected Nov. 2.
On the Republican ticket is Salvatore Isabella, who is not actively campaigning and did not respond to a request for a debate with the legislator at TBR News Media offices.
Hahn, 50, said this is her last chance to run for her seat, where she has productively worked on a variety of issues throughout the county.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I feel like I make a difference.”
Over the last several months, Hahn — who serves as the county’s deputy presiding officer — has helped during the county’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic and its continuous aftermath.
“The pandemic really kind of opened up some old wounds from our health care perspective,” she said. “I think it’s clear — there’s more to do to make sure that our health department is ready for next time. I don’t think we’ve done a full-on analysis of how things went, because we’re still facing it.”
But the county legislator believes there needs to be a serious review so we as a whole can be better prepared for the next time.
COVID-19 also halted several projects Hahn began working on before the pandemic such as the county’s recycling taskforce and emergency room opioid protocols — two of which she hopes to see through if reelected. She currently has two bills underway, one making sure that the county spends its opioid settlement money appropriately.
“I feel really strongly that because we have [more than] $100 million, that will be coming to be spent over varying degrees, some of it can be spent immediately,” she said. “There’s time but I don’t think we should be reimbursing ourselves for expenses — I think that opioid settlement money should be spent on treatment and services for prevention.”
She said that by creating programs for people with addiction, it could help get a handle on the drug epidemic that skyrocketed during the pandemic and quarantine.
Hahn is also an advocate for the COVID vaccine and has been pushing the health department to help get the public vaccinated against the coronavirus. She said that while close to 80% of adults haven gotten their full vaccine, we do not know what percentage is needed across the full population to reach herd immunity, and lower the transmission rates in schools.
Chair of the parks and environment committees, Hahn said she hopes during her next term to see federal funding to go toward infrastructure in her district. She also said she wants to get “a task force going” as the Town of Brookhaven Landfill closes and changes happen with waste removal.
Throughout her entire political career, Hahn said she has advocated on the importance of transitioning away from septic systems and how they impact Long Island’s drinking water.
While Hahn is seeking her reelection for what would be her last term as legislator, she has also announced she will be campaigning for U.S. Congress next year.
“I am running for Congress because I think there’s an opportunity to further help this community by getting someone from here there,” she said. “And I think that could really help.”
While opposers might question Hahn’s devotion to her seat if reelected as she seeks higher office, she said she knows it will be difficult, but she is ready.
“I know it’s going to be hard, but I’m very committed to this job,” she said.
“The reason for me running is to just find yet another way to continue to help and work for this community, and I wouldn’t take that on if I didn’t think I could. I love this community, and this comes first, of course.”