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2018 elections

Incumbent state Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick will be challenged by Democrat Dave Morrissey at the polls. Photos by Kyle Barr

The two candidates running for New York’s 8th Assembly District, incumbent Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Smithtown) and Democratic challenger Dave Morrissey, agree on the area’s problems of high taxes and shrinking youth population. However, they disagree heavily on how the state should work to change it.

Fitzpatrick and Morrissey stepped into the TBR News Media offices where they discussed their varying stances on state and local issues.

Fitzpatrick is running again for his long-held seat on a number of fiscal issues, including
taxes, young people leaving Long Island and cutting back on government employee’s benefits.

“Unfortunately, when you look at the numbers, we continue to be a state in decline. We’re losing 100,000 people a year,” he said.

Morrissey, a local software engineer and project manager from Smithtown, is running heavily on reforming New York’s response to the opioid crisis. This comes after a personal tragedy where Morrissey’s son William died of complications due to opioid addiction in 2016.

“He wasn’t one of the statistics because he didn’t die over an overdose death, and there are many more deaths than most often reported because of this,” the Democratic challenger said. “All levels of government need to do more.”

Taxes/Cost of Living

Fitzpatrick sees a need to deal with union contracts and government employee pension programs, which he said is sapping the strength out of the economy. The assemblyman has campaigned to change automatic pay increases while employers and employees are in between labor contracts as well as pushing for a transition from pensions for 401(k)s for government employees.

“The tax burden is too high,” the assemblyman said. “You have to get every elected official out of the defined benefit retention system. That particular benefit and how we are compensated encourages fiscal irresponsibility.”

The Democratic challenger said that while his campaign has received union support, he would still push for school consolidation of resources. He opined best way to affect the school district’s taxes was to expand Long Island’s commuter infrastructure to appeal to young people and, hopefully, encourage new business growth.

“We need to have smart strategic investments that will have a real cost benefit,” Morrissey said. “If the only thing you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail, and you can’t cut your way into prosperity.”

Health care/Opioid crisis

On the opioid treatment and health care, the challenger said there needs to be much more done on the state level. He supports medically assisted treatment for all drug or alcohol users who need it, opening up an addiction high school through the BOCES system, and opening up at least 11 more recovery centers, for which he suggests the state should get pharmaceutical companies to pay.

The incumbent said he feels it would be near impossible to get the pharmaceutical companies to pay for these programs, while agreeing it would help, he said funding from state government is never guaranteed.

Morrissey said he also believes in health care for all and supports the New York Health Act, which passed through the state Assembly but did not reach the floor of the state Senate. He said he would look to give the state more negotiatinpower with pharmaceutical companies.

“I think it’s a great system that needs improvements — something rolled out gradually,”
Morrissey said. “Big pharma has so much wealth, we should be able to negotiate on the process.”

Fitzpatrick said he disagrees with a health care for all program, and especially the New York Health Act. He would instead advocate for use of Health Savings Account programs, one where people can save money for health-related emergencies only.

“The system is not broken — it needs to be repaired and modified,” he said. “You want a system that attracts the best and the brightest doctors.”

New York State sen. Carl Marcellino will face a challenge from Democrat Jim Gaughran Nov. 6. Photos by Alex Petroski

It’s a political rematch two years in the making for New York State’s 5th Senate District.

Incumbent Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), who was first elected to office in a 1995 special election, currently represents the mixed district consisting of Nassau and Suffolk residents. He claims to have successfully gotten 275 laws passed and serves as chairman of the Senate
Education Committee.

Democrat Jim Gaughran, of Northport, is a sole-practitioner attorney of nearly 30 years experience and current chairman of Suffolk County Water Authority. He’s previously served as a councilman for the Town of
Huntington and a Suffolk County legislator. In the 2016 race, he came up short against Marcellino by a slim margin of 
1,761 votes, or roughly 1.2 percent of the roughly 145,000 ballots cast.s. Now, he eyes an office in the state Senate.

“One of the primary differences is the senator is very happy with the way things are going, the way Albany works,” Gaughran said. “I think there’s a lot we need to do in Albany that hasn’t been done.”

Both candidates sat down for an exclusive interview with TBR News Media on state and local issues.

Education

The challenger recognizes that the federal government’s action to cap state and local tax deductions at $10,000 will pose a financial challenge to homeowners. If elected, he’d like to use it as a reason to increase state funding of public schools, while gradually cutting property taxes.

“To me, public education should be the No. 1 funding priority for the State of New York, period,” he said.

Gaughran said he believes there are too many unfunded mandates on schools, the state needs to provide funds for projects, and would like to decouple state testing scores from teacher evaluations.

Marcellino claimed he has increased state aid to school districts by approximately $1,500 per pupil while serving as state education chair. He supports the 2 percent state-mandated tax cap to keep taxes under control. Marcello said he also believes the state needs to study and review efficiency of school programs it sponsors and pays for. The incumbent said part of that burden also falls on school districts to be careful with what programs they introduce, ensure they are needed and all districts should consider consolidation.

Infrastructure

One area Gaughran said he’d like to see Long Island receive more funding is for infrastructure, particularly relating to improving water quality. He will fight for more state funding to upgrade sewer treatment facilities to state-of-the-art  technology and expand sewers. The Democrat said the biggest issue faced in Suffolk is to improve the water quality by replacing current cesspools with microsewers. He believed the state should provide tax incentives and grants.

Marcellino said he’s a strong proponent of environmental protection, citing his work requiring notification prior to pesticide application and a bill written to reform the state’s cleanup of brownfield and superfund sites in the early 2000s.

“Preserving of our open space and our clean air, preserving green fields is a key element here. It’s important we move forward with that and we do more of it,” he said. “Frankly, not enough is being done and we need to do more.”

The incumbent said the state needs to do more to partner with lower levels of government, help out financially where possible and supports offering state tax incentives.

LIPA’s lawsuit over Northport power plant

Town of Huntington and Northport-East Northport school district residents have been calling on elected officials for their help and assistance this year in mitigating any impact Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari case could have on local property owners as it moves toward a trial.

Gaughran said he was a member of Huntington Town Board when the original agreement was made for LIPA taking over the Northport Power Station and believed that the town should be protected in the tax certiorari case.

“The state needs to support the Town of Huntington and its residents,” the Democratic challenger said.

Marcellino cited his efforts to aid the town and school district by drafting and co-sponsoring a bill that would have spread out the difference in taxes over a 15-year period and allowed access to state funds to offset any tax revenue difference. He said he would support possible LIPA reform and changes that he felt would benefit his constituents, but any action would need to be carefully thought through and studied in advance for potential ramifications.

His challenger said he would look to reform LIPA in two ways: First would be to make appointment to its board a process of government approval and confirmation by the state Senate; and, second, he would look to force the utility company go before the state’s Public Service Commission for approval of its consumer fees and rates.

Ethics reform

If elected, Gaughran said he would like to push for real ethic laws in New York State politics. As former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) appeals a public corruption conviction, the Democratic challenger said he fears others may be using public office for private benefit. He proposes to force state elected officials to not have outside employment while serving in state Legislature and push for campaign financial reform to close existing loopholes.

“We are capable of policing ourselves,” Marcellino replied. “No one likes to see someone game the system.”

The incumbent said to force state elected officials to give up outside income would cause many talented individuals to leave office, and anticipates those remaining as full-time legislators to request an increase in pay. He said changes like those proposed by Gaughran would require a statewide public referendum.

“Their ability to make change happen is there, but it’s not that simple,” Marcellino said.

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.”

Above left, Democratic challenger Avrum Rosen and on right, incumbent Andrew Raia

Both candidates seeking to represent New York State’s 12th Assembly District are aware of the challenges the area faces, but have key differences on the solutions they propose.

Incumbent Andrew Raia (R-East Northport) was elected to represent the 12th District in 2002 and seeks to return to Albany for his ninth term.

His Democrat challenger is Avrum Rosen, an attorney specializing in bankruptcy and tax law at his Huntington-based practice.

Rosen jumped into the race after New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division ruled Aug. 22 that Northport resident Michael Marcantonio, 31, Raia’s original challenger, did not meet the state’s minimum five-year residency requirements.

“When Michael Marcantonio got thrown out this race, I decided someone had to step up,” Rosen said. “While I like [Raia] very much, I don’t like his position on a lot of things. This is not a year when any Republican should go unchallenged in an election.”

LIPA/Northport power plant

Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari lawsuit against the Town of Huntington and Northport-East Northport school district over Northport Power Station is a top concern of district residents as mediation begins and possible court trial looms.

“There was never any pressure on [LIPA] to upgrade, do any of the things they needed to do to make it what it should have been,” Rosen said.

Rosen suggested the state should allow town officials to levy a carbon tax against the Northport power plant to encourage LIPA to upgrade it, ultimately raising the value of the plant.

Raia highlighted legislation he co-sponsored earlier this year that would allow the town to spread out any tax rate changes over a 15-year period and granted access to state funds to stabilize taxes. Raia said environmentalists rallied against it for proposing to take money from the greenhouse gas initiative funds.

“No matter who comes back, it’s something that should be reintroduced and maybe we get the money from another pot that the environmentalists are not so concerned about,” the incumbent said.

Taxes 

Raia said he believes the 2 percent state-mandated tax cap has been one the “best things” the state has done to control taxes and cost-of-living on Long Island. He wants to encourage consolidation of services among municipalities and school districts while supporting the lawsuit of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) against the federal government for placing a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. Raia said he has researched shifting from a property-based to income-based tax model, creating a commercial tax fund and other ways to ease the burden on Long Island homeowners.

Rosen agreed with his opponent that the SALT tax deduction cap needs to be addressed by the state. If elected to office, he proposes the state Legislature considers offering straight tax credits to those with student loans, those entering STEM professions and for parents paying childcare costs. The Democratic challenger said commercial taxes need to be addressed and he believes it needs to be done through a tristate regional approach that brings both New Jersey and Connecticut on board. Rosen questions if the 2 percent state-mandated tax cap can be kept in place in the future if the rate of inflation increases.

Gun Control

Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, this February, gun control has become a larger national issue.

Rosen said he is in favor of microstamping guns, broader background checks and a red flag law that allows police or family to request firearms be removed from owners who might present a danger to themselves or others. He criticized Raia for voting down gun control measures in the past.

The incumbent said over time he has “evolved on the issue,” arguing against parts of various gun control bills for lacking due process. Raia cited that he voted in favor of taking firearms from those convicted of domestic violence once the language was tweaked to only include related crimes, and he wanted to enable investigators charged with researching the mental health backgrounds of those requesting gun permits to cross state lines.

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.”

Avrum Rosen. Photo from Rosen's campaign

A Huntington attorney with a history of public service has stepped forward to become the Democratic Party’s next challenger for the state’s 12th Assembly District.

Centerport resident Avrum Rosen has become the Suffolk County Democratic Committee’s candidate to face off against incumbent Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R- East Northport).

“I had been thinking about running again as we’re in pretty upsetting times, I don’t think we can be complacent anymore,” Rosen said. “I don’t think any Republican candidate who takes the positions Raia takes should go unchallenged.”

I don’t think any Republican candidate who takes the positions Raia takes should go unchallenged.”

— Avrum Rosen

A panel of four judges in New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn ruled Aug. 22 that Northport resident Michael Marcantonio, 31, Raia’s original challenger, did not meet the state’s minimum five-year residency requirements after casting his 2014 ballot at Duke University in North Carolina while enrolled as a law student.

As such, Rosen said he decided to contact the Democratic Party about running for the position. He previously unsuccessfully ran for a state political office once before in 1996 in the 10th Assembly District against the late Jim Conte. 

“I was a complete novice at the time,” Rosen said. “With no funds and a lot less experience than I have now, I ran a very competitive race.”

Rosen currently runs a Huntington-based law firm, specializing in bankruptcy claims in addition to handling commercial and residential real estate cases. He received his law degree from Hofstra University.

“I went into bankruptcy work as it’s not that different from social work,” he said. “I call it economic social work to fix things in businesses and in people’s lives.”

The Democratic challenger served on the Town of Huntington’s planning board for nine years starting in 2002, where he said he’s fought for changes to put more restrictions on business operations like 7-Elevens — including opposing the 7-Eleven built in Centerport.

“… I think there are some solutions no one had talked about, including the municipalities’ rights to levy carbon taxes that might get LIPA to modernize the Northport plant.”

— Avrum Rosen

Two other key issues Rosen hopes to be able to address are state gun laws in the wake of school shootings such as Parkland, Florida, and Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari case to get the Northport Power Station reassessed.

“I’m a kind of think outside the box type of guy,” he said. “I’ve been doing my homework and I think there are some solutions no one had talked about, including the municipalities’ rights to levy carbon taxes that might get LIPA to modernize the Northport plant.”

Admittedly, Rosen said he had “a lot of work to do” and there’s still a chance he may not wind up on the Nov. 6 ballot. Marcantonio will be pleading his case before the judges in the state Court of Appeals Aug. 29, and if they do, he hopes to have the Appellate Division’s decision overturned to get his name back on the ticket.

“We feel confident they will hear our case given the importance of the issues at [hand] right now,” Marcantonio said Tuesday afternoon. “We need to raise the issue of student voting as they are prohibiting a common practice among New York students who participate in life of their college communities, and are preventing them from being able to run for office.”

Raia also confirmed there is an appeal filed against the Appellate judge’s decision that allowed the Suffolk Democrats to designate Rosen as the party’s new candidate. If overturned, he said the petitions could be found invalid and Rosen could also be ineligible to run.

The results of the court proceedings were not available by the publication’s press time.

Republican candidate Dan DeBono, far right, with this family. Photo from DeBono campaign

First-time political candidate Dan DeBono said there are two different kinds of Republicans. One supports the little guy, and the other only helps the rich get richer.

There are corporate Republicans and then there’s, like me, middle-class Republicans,” he said. “Corporate Republicans will seek to apply all government power to help conglomerate corporations… enrich the big guy and hope that trickles down to the small guy. Middle-class Republican’s vision of leadership is creating an environment where the middle class can thrive.”

There are corporate Republicans and then there’s, like me, middle-class Republicans.”

— Dan DeBono

DeBono hopes to bring his vision to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 3rd District,  challenging incumbent Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) on the Republican party line for the seat this November.

His campaign focuses on middle-class issues due to his upbringing. Born in 1968, he grew up in Northport and graduated from Northport High School. DeBono then attended Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts on a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship that allowed him to join the U.S. Navy SEALs after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. The candidate spent four years as an officer in the Navy serving overseas during the Gulf War and U.S. and NATO’s intervention in Bosnia.

After serving, DeBono went to The Booth School of Business at The University of Chicago where he obtained a master’s degree in business administration. He spent the next 20 years in the finance industry. DeBono became involved in the local politics as a committeeman for the Town of Huntington’s Republican Committee and provided financial advice to the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney (R) and Rudy Giuliani (R).

The Republican candidate said he sees a host of challenges facing Long Island stemming from regulation, taxes and infrastructure problems. It’s hit a breaking point where he says businesses and people do not want to stay here. Given the high cost of living, he sees more and more young people deciding not to stay on the island.

It’s too expensive to live here and raise a family.”

— Dan DeBono

“It’s too expensive to live here and raise a family,” DeBono said. “The balance between income and cost of living has gotten so out of whack that generally young people are not returning after college.”

He wants to put pressure on both the federal and state government to supply funds to ensure the Long Island Rail Road is overhauled. DeBono also supports plans to cut small-business regulations and reduced state income taxes to help alleviate Long Island’s high cost of living.

While he largely agrees with cutting taxes, the challenger said he would not have voted for the 2018 federal tax cuts simply because the amount of allocated for individuals in lower tax brackets was too small and the duration was too short, only going until 2025. He also said the loss of state and local tax deductions will have a negative impact.

In his campaign, DeBono points to corporate Republicans as those who think of large businesses first and top-down economics whereas he wants to strengthen Long Island’s economy by building up the middle class. DeBono is campaigning on a platform of specifically targeting corporate mergers and consolidations, which he said creates anti-competitive monopolies and oligopolies, as well as targeting regulations that hinder new businesses rising up to compete.

Industry after industry have concentrated down into three to four players. This is a huge contributor to the destruction of the middle class.” 

— Dan DeBono

“The same pattern of consolidation has occurred in nearly every industry in the United States,” DeBono said. “Industry after industry have concentrated down into three to four players. This is a huge contributor to the destruction of the middle class.”

On other national issues, DeBono said he believes in strong borders and supports efforts to build a wall, or barrier, along the U.S.-Mexico border. The Republican candidate also said he believes health care prices are crippling America’s middle class and he would prefer a market-based solution — but did not rule out a national single-payer system.

DeBono strongly believes in a free and competitive market, but he also supports unions.

“A robust free market will always form the most reasonable and durable form of job protection,” DeBono said. “We have structural issues that must be addressed first before those protections can kick in. At this point in the cycle unions are more important than they’ve ever been.”

DeBono is holding an open house at the Huntington American Legion Post 360, located at 1 Mill Dam Road, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m.

Michael Marcantonio speaks at his July 30 press conference. Photo by Kyle Barr

Democratic challenger Michael Marcantonio will be removed from the ballot for the 12th Assembly District after courts ruled he failed to meet the residency requirements.

A panel of four judges in New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn ruled Aug. 22 that Marcantonio, 31, of Northport, did not meet the five-year state residency requirement to run for state Assembly. The political candidate called it “unjust.”

“I’ve been punished simply for exercising my right to vote,” he said.

“I’ve been punished simply for exercising my right to vote.”

— Michael Marcantonio

The panel’s decision found that when Marcantonio cast a ballot in the 2014 elections in North
Carolina, where he was enrolled as a law student at Duke University at the time, he had severed his connection to New York. The issue first came to light in July, when three supporters of Assemblyman Andrew Raia (R-East Northport), whose seat he was vying, Ralph Notaristefano, Paul D’Alessio and Kathleen Barnhart filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court.

“I did everything everyone else does when they go away to school, I did nothing different — the only difference is I tried to run for office afterward,” the political hopeful said. “It’s going to discourage young people from running for office.”

Marcantonio said he was unsure of bringing the case to the state Court of Appeals, citing that the court has the sole discretion to determine whether or not they’ll hear his plea. Ultimately, he said he believes time will show the judges’ decision was in error.

It’s a symptom of the cancer in our body of politics in New York State.”

— Michael MarcAntonio

“It’s shocking that the court, who is supposed to be the guarantor of our democracy, our justice, our voting and electoral rights would instead disenfranchise our district from having a real choice in this election and undermine young people’s right to run for office,” Marcantonio said.

As Marcantonio was found ineligible, Raia  will run unopposed. Raia could not immediately be reached for comment. The incumbent previously weighed in on the issue stating to TBR News Media that anyone who may want to run for office after attending school in another state should use absentee ballots.

Now barred from running, Marcantonio said he will continue to support the campaigns of several other Suffolk Democrats up for re-election this November including state Assemblyman Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) for the 16th District, Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) and challenger Jim Gaughran who will run against state Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset).

The political hopeful said he already spoke with Rich Schaffer, supervisor of Suffolk County’s
Democratic Committee, about bringing the fight to the state Legislature when it reconvenes in January. Schaffer and other members of Suffolk Democratic Committee could not immediately be reached for comment.

I will be a candidate moving forward for whatever office I have the opportunity to run for.”

— Michael Marcantonio

Marcantonio wants there to be changes made to the five-year state residency requirement to make clear the intention is not to punish students who pursue higher education in another state.

“It’s a symptom of the cancer in our body of politics in New York State,” he said. “Our elections laws are not structured in a way to incentivize youth participation or incentivize people to get involved in the process. They are designed to make it as difficult as possible.”

He also states he will continue to work to encourage the young voter to get to the polls this November given the “unprecedented levels” of young engagement following recent events such as the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.

Marcantonio said the outcome has not discouraged him from taking part in political endeavors.

“This will not be the last time you hear of Michael Marcantonio,” he said. “I will be a candidate moving forward for whatever office I have the opportunity to run for.”