St. James resident Mario Mattera (R) started off the new year as a freshman senator in Albany, and he’s looking forward to getting back to business as usual in the 2nd District, which includes Smithtown and parts of Brookhaven and Huntington.
Fresh on the job
The state senator was sworn into office Jan. 5 by his wife, Terry, who is a notary with his daughters, Jessica and Jayme, on hand. He said he is overwhelmed by the support of constituents who voted for him because he feels they trust he can get the job done.
“From Huntington to Smithtown to Brookhaven, I’m looking forward to doing whatever I need to do,” he said.
A former business agent with the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters with Plumbers Local #200 for more than four decades, the state senator will serve as the chief Republican on the Consumer Protection Committee, as well as the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee. He has also been appointed as a member of the Labor and Transportation standing committees.
Mattera said he’s traveled to Albany and interacted with his fellow senators, which has been a little different than previous years where elected officials are practicing social distancing and wearing facial coverings. Some legislators are even working remotely due to the pandemic.
“I’ve been up every week,” he said. “I feel it’s important. I need to get the feel of the chamber and meet people.”
Mattera said the biggest obstacle right now is getting life back to normal. He is currently pushing for pharmacies to be able to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. He and other legislators held a press conference in Hauppauge Jan. 14 calling out Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on the state’s failed vaccine rollout.
Mattera said even if the proper inventory of vaccines isn’t available, there needs to be a better rollout plan, which would include residents being able to get the vaccine in their own neighborhood instead of traveling to larger sites, such as at colleges, where he said many may feel uncomfortable.
“Let’s have a facility that our residents can go to that is local, and they’ll feel comfortable, just like with the flu shot,” he said. “There’s no reason why we can’t go to Walgreens or CVS and our local pharmacies where people feel comfortable.”
Mattera said his office has been helping veterans get the information they need to get the vaccine. He said the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center has been helpful and applauded Fred Sganga, executive director of the Long Island State Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, for ensuring veterans associated with the home are vaccinated.
“There’s no reason why veterans have to be sitting and worrying,” Mattera said, adding having chain pharmacies going into nursing homes was a good plan.
“We’ve always put the blame game on the federal government that there are not enough of the vaccines, but let’s have a plan in place when we do get it that’s more convenient for our residents and especially our seniors,” he said.
“Let’s have a facility that our residents can go to that is local, and they’ll feel comfortable, just like with the flu shot.”
— Mario Mattera
Mattera said he’s a big supporter of small businesses and believes they can operate like normal by following safety protocols closely. He believes business owners are capable of enforcing COVID-19 health guidelines. He added Cuomo should have reopened New York businesses deemed nonessential sooner than he did.
The state senator gave the example of New York City where many companies currently still have employees working from home which causes a ripple effect. He said restaurants suffer as fewer people are ordering lunch from them and even breakfast and dinner.
“Now we realize that the most vibrant city in the world is in dire straits,”
In addition to businesses reopening fully, Mattera said it’s also imperative for schools to once again offer five-day, in-person instruction. He said he feels students interacting with their teachers and coaches is important.
“Our children are suffering from this,” he said, noting that his youngest daughter is a high school senior.
He added that at the same time it’s important for districts to keep an eye on infection rates to see if they are spiking.
“Safety is always first,” he said.
Mattera is looking for his district to have the best treatment plants.
“We need to make sure that we have the state-of-the-art treatment plants that are put in place to protect our precious water supply for our future,” he said.
While there have been talks during the last few years in Smithtown over a proposed sewage treatment plant on the Gyrodyne property in St. James, Mattera said it’s important to look at plants for businesses along the Jericho Turnpike corridor also. He added it’s imperative that treatment plans replenish local aquifers and not dump into the Long Island Sound or ocean.
“That’s a problem, and that’s been a problem for a lot of counties like Nassau County,” he said. “Nassau County did not plan for replenishing. It dumps into the Sound. It dumps out into the bay millions of gallons per day.”
He added improving the Route 110 corridor by replacing the main sewer line is another priority, and he is working with Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) to secure the funds.
“Our infrastructure is really important for proper growth in the future,” he said.
Constituents can reach Mattera’s office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 631-361-2154.