NORTHPORT, NY — Election Day is right around the corner, and voters will choose between Democratic candidate Michael Marcantonio and Republican candidate Keith Brown in the general election Nov. 3 for New York state Assembly District 12.
The 12th district covers Northport, East Northport, Centerport, Eaton's Neck, Asharoken and portions of Fort Salonga, Halesite, Greenlawn, Commack, Elwood, Dix Hills, Deer Park, and North Bay Shore. The position was previously held by Republican Andrew Raia before he retired from the state assembly.
In anticipation of the election, Patch asked candidates in the contested races to answer questions about their campaigns and will publish candidate profiles as election day draws near.
Here are their answers, lightly edited for clarity.
Age as of Election Day (Nov. 3)
Town of residence
Jamie Marcantonio, Mother
Ray Marcantonio, Father
Katie Marcantonio, Sister
Matt Marcantonio, Brother
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
Lafayette College and Duke Law School
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Why are you seeking elective office?
"I am seeking elective office because, for too long, our leaders have failed us. We have sent up do-nothing politicians who cave to greedy special interests and then ditch us in the middle of their term — and in the middle of a pandemic and economic crash — to take cushy corporate lobbying jobs.
"It’s a lack of leadership that has allowed corrupt entities like LIPA and PSEG to run rampant in Albany, extorting communities and evading accountability.
"It’s a lack of leadership that has led to the fact that for every $1 Long Island sends up to Albany we only get $.80 in return.
"It’s a lack of leadership that has allowed property taxes and cost of living to sky rocket, driving away young people and our seniors.
"Government must work for the people, not for corporations or self-interested politicians. I am running for the assembly because I want to reform Albany to free it from its corruption. I want to bring funding and respect back to Long Island. I want to bring power back to Long Island."
The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
"The single most important issue is, undoubtedly, coronavirus. Right now, we need to be focusing on three things: preventing a second wave, killing the virus and providing economic relief for our workers and small businesses.
"For the past eight months, I have been working tirelessly to keep our community safe. I helped procure over 1,000,000 masks for the NYPD at the height of the pandemic, in addition to over 180,000 masks that I personally bought and donated to local hospitals, nursing homes, schools, places of worship, law enforcement, municipalities and other organizations. We need to continue to wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines to prevent another increase in cases.
We also need to take care of our economy. According to survey results, roughly 25 percent of small businesses in New York have closed because of COVID-19, with 75 percent of small businesses still in operation worried they won’t make it to the end of the year. On top of that, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are still unemployed.
"We are in a deep economic recession, and it will become a depression if we don’t act now.
This is a time to be bold; a time for the state to stand up and take care of its people. I will not support any tax increases on middle class families. I will also not stand for any budget cuts to education, infrastructure, healthcare or other essential services. Austerity doesn’t work. What the state should do is take advantage of the Fed’s municipal-lending program, which features interest rates lower than the rate of inflation. We use that money to fill shortfalls in the budget as well as directly inject into our small businesses to jump start the economy.
"Over the past decade, the Fed has poured billions and billions of dollars into Wall Street, and look where it’s gotten us. It’s time we bail out Main Street. And it’s imperative that we have someone fighting for our district that can get this funding back home."
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
"Our first critical difference is our ability to get anything done in Albany.
"There are 150 seats in the New York State Assembly, 103 of which are currently held by Democrats. That is a supermajority. If elected, I will be caucusing with the party that has overwhelming control of the body, which means I will be in the room when decisions are made. I will be able to chair committees, get legislation to the floor and secure generous amounts of funding.
"Conversely, my opponent would be a freshman member of the super minority, which means he’ll have no power to get anything done for our district. AD-12 is the fourth-most underfunded district in terms of education aid, and that was under the leadership of a Republican who had been in office for almost two decades. It will only get worse under a freshman Republican. Need more proof, look no further than the district right next door. When Assemblyman Steve Stern was elected to the Assembly, he was able to obtain more education funding for his district in the first six months than his Republican predecessor the past six years.
"The other critical difference between my opponent and I is our priorities. Over the past eight months, while we battled this pandemic, I have put constituent services at the top of my list, keeping mind that we don’t have an assemblyman representing us right now. I spent hours on the phone helping people with unemployment, procuring ventilators for Stony Brook Hospital, securing over a million masks for the NYPD, Suffolk PD, Huntington Hospital, Northport-East Northport School District and more. My opponent, on the other hand, spent that time as a lawyer representing multinational developers, including the Russian mob, to urbanize our communities and destroy our environment.
"My priority is helping working class Long Islanders. My opponent’s priority is lining his pockets."
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform
"Another important issue to our campaign is defeating the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and firing PSEG. Both agencies have cheated Long Islanders one too many times.
"LIPA held the Town of Huntington and the Northport-East Northport School District over a barrel with the tax certiorari lawsuit. They extorted us for years, threatening to bankrupt our schools, shutter small businesses and drive out middle class families, all to pay off their international bond holders. The settlement was a mistake. Our so-called leaders gave up on us. They threw in the towel, agreeing to raise our property taxes 50 percent and slash the Northport-East Northport school budget, which will have irreparable damage on our children's’ future and the economic health of our community.
"The fight isn’t over, though. When I get to Albany, the first thing I’m doing is passing the legislation I helped write, which Senator Jim Gaughran overwhelmingly passed in the senate two years in a row, that would prevent LIPA from recovering back taxes. This is important because Nassau County’s tax certiorari lawsuit with LIPA is still pending, and if we can get the threat of back taxes off the table for them that will assuredly make their deal with LIPA better. That will then trigger the most favored nation clause in our settlement deal, which is an agreement that if another municipality agrees to more favorable terms (i.e. lower property tax increase, more payments to a school district, etc.) then we get those same terms.
"PSEG utterly failed its first test this summer when Tropical Storm Isaias hit Long Island. They left us in the dark, both literally and figuratively.
"I don’t need to recap the details because we all lived it. It’s hard to imagine how they could’ve done a worse job.
"Not only has no one from PSEG or LIPA been fired or held accountable for their failures, but now they are passing the damage costs of Isaias onto us, making ratepayers pay over $90 million while PSEG is only on the hook to pay $10 million. This is because any and all substantive oversight of PSEG was thrown out with the 2013 LIPA Reform Act because of lobbying efforts on behalf of PSEG.
"There is no incentive for this private company to do the right thing; to do what is in the best interest of Long Islanders. They will screw us over if it means making a few more dollars. And our government has absolutely no power to hold them meaningfully accountable.
"This is what happens when you mix greedy corporations and corrupt, do-nothing politicians, which run abound in Albany. You get ripped off, cheated, disrespected. It happens too often to Long Islanders; we constantly get the short end of the stick. Not anymore."
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
"I authored S5122A, the legislation that blocked LIPA from recovering back taxes from municipalities, which Senator Gaughran overwhelmingly passed in the senate two years in a row.
"I also organized protests, meetings and discussions in opposition to LIPA, which mobilized so many people in our community. I brought the issue to the forefront in 2018, and by this summer there were thousands of people in the Town of Huntington vocally opposing the LIPA settlement.
"Lastly, I would point to the work I have done during the pandemic. I decided at the height of the virus that I would put my political campaign on hold and do everything I could to take care of the community. I helped people with unemployment, procured medical supplies to hospitals, secured personal protective equipment for people and organizations. Without a representative for our district, I thought the most impactful thing I could do was to try and fill that role."
The best advice ever shared with me was:
"Do what is right, not what is easy."