Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan said her vision and guiding force if elected to the New York state Senate is simple: everyone counts.
Despite hate and prejudice across the country, Kaplan, a Democrat, said at her campaign kick-off rally on Friday, the diverse communities in New York’s 7th District should come together because “everyone should be treated with respect, and everyone should have a voice.”
Kaplan’s run for the seat held by state Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) may also be the deciding force behind the Democrats winning back a majority in the state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
“She represents the values that really speak to Nassau and New York State and what this country is all about,” Cuomo told the crowd at the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury. “She is a progressive in the truest sense of the word, and her very story is the the New York story, it is the American story.”
Cuomo touted Kaplan’s success story as an Iranian refugee.
He said Kaplan will wave a banner to Albany stating, “I’m an immigrant and I’m damn proud of it.”
But before Kaplan can take on Albany, or Phillips, she’ll have to defeat Brad Schwartz, a Port Washington resident also running in the Sept. 13 primary.
In a statement Schwartz, who currently has $115,171 raised, said he looks forward to addressing issues affecting the community in the primary race against Kaplan.
“For the last seven months of my campaign, I have heard the frustration of voters at the dysfunction in Albany; they are looking for someone who can be their voice and stand up to corruption,” Schwartz said. “I believe a new generation of leadership can bring real change for Nassau.”
In addition to Cuomo, the two-term councilwoman on Friday was joined by Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Gianaris, North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth and other local elected officials, gaining the party support she lacked during her 2016 primary race for Congress.
Kaplan finished fourth out of five Democrats for a spot ultimately won by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).
Currently Democrats in the state Senate have the 32-31 majority after two recent special election wins by Shelly Mayer, in Westchester County, and Luis Sepulveda, in New York City.
However, state Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, said he would continue to caucus with the Republicans, leaving the GOP with the one-vote majority.
A Democratic win in District 7 could help take back the majority, allowing the party to pass bills such as the Child Victims Act and gun control safety measures, Cuomo said.
Since taking control of the state Senate in 2011, the Republicans have done one thing – stymie change and block reform, Kaplan said.
“If you’re an oil company, a big bank, an insurance company or a gun manufacturer you like things the way they are,” Kaplan said. “But if you’re a hardworking family from Long Island, you need change and that change needs to be in Albany.”
Kaplan said bills such as the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for victims, and gun safety measures, which she said are broadly supported in the district, are frustratingly blocked from ever reaching the Senate floor.
In recent months, Phillips has faced criticism from advocacy groups on an array of issues including the Child Victims Act, gun safety legislation and closing the carried interest tax loophole.
Schwartz has come out in support of the Child Victims Act and was endorsed by the Fighting for our Children PAC, an organization aimed at passing the measure.
Schwartz also signed the No NRA Money Pledge.
Assemblyman Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) has endorsed Schwartz.
In District 7 Democrats make up about 40 percent and Republicans 29 percent of the 231,317 registered voters, according state records.
Another quarter of registered voters do not have a party affiliation.
Despite the Democratic plurality, Phillips won a close race in 2016 against Democrat Adam Haber, who had run before and lost against Jack Martins, by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.
In a statement, Phillips’ campaign said the senator has “achieved extraordinary accomplishments in her first term,” and “will be re-elected easily.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story stated North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Jacobs instead of Judi Bosworth.