The race between Republican Elaine Phillips and Democrat Anna Kaplan may not just decide who will represent the state Senate’s 7th District, but could also determine which party controls the Senate.
So in making our choice for the seat, we assessed whether the district and the state are better served with Democrats in control of both houses of the state Legislature and, in all likelihood, the governorship, or a continuation of the split created by Republican control of the state Senate.
We acknowledge that both calculations have pluses and minuses, but believe on balance the best course is to vote for Kaplan.
Too often the state Senate under Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan has frustrated common-sense reforms, often by not allowing bills to come to a vote.
Flanagan, and before him disgraced Majority Leader Dean Skelos, have over the past 10 years repeatedly refused to allow the Child Victims Act, which would extend the civil statute of limitations to 50 years old and the criminal statute of limitations to 28 years old for victims of sexual assault.
After political pressure was applied this year, Phillips co-sponsored legislation that would have extended the criminal statute of limitations but not the statute for civil penalties. Instead, a system would have been established that would have let organizations that allowed the sexual assault of children to get off the hook financially – a system we find completely unacceptable.
Even then, Flanagan did not allow the proposal to come to a vote.
Flanagan has also refused to bring to the Senate floor an online sales tax that would help create an even playing field for local retailers with online businesses.
He has also refused to bring to the floor important anti-corruption legislation that Phillips said she supports which would close the so-called LLC loophole, which allows companies to make virtually unlimited campaign contributions.
Even sensible legislation that Phillips deserves credit for sponsoring, which keeps guns away from domestic abusers, was a result of Flanagan’s refusal to bring to a vote a much stronger piece of legislation. That legislation would have regulated bumps stocks and allowed parents, teachers and police to pursue a court order to take guns from people considered dangerous.
Kaplan has said she supports the Child Victims Act, the online sales tax, an end to the LLC loophole and the so-called red-flag legislation that allows parents, teachers and police to pursue a court order to take guns from people considered dangerous.
Perhaps most important is Philips’ and the Republican majority’s opposition to the Reproductive Health Act, which Democrats say would codify abortion rights protected under Roe v. Wade. Republicans say the legislation goes beyond Roe v. Wade by allowing medical professionals licensed by the state, not only doctors, to perform abortions and providing two additional exemptions to the ban on abortions beyond 24 weeks.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned – which is seen as increasingly possible with the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh – the law in New York would revert back to laws passed 50 years that provide far fewer protections than those provided under Roe v. Wade.
Kaplan said she also backed the Reproductive Health Act.
During her campaign, Phillips has also emphasized the potential danger of one-party government in New York. She said that in 2009 and 2010, state aid went down $124 million in the district while New York City schools saw an increase.
Although the state cuts Phillips refers to took place during a financial crisis, she is not wrong in expressing concern about the possible loss of money to Long Island and the dangers of one-party rule.
Phillips has also touted grants and other money she has obtained for the district. A large share of this money is provided by the Senate leadership to fellow Republicans, but not Democrats – a system employed by both parties in both houses.
This money disappears from the district if Democrats take the majority – unless Kaplan is elected.
We would hope that a Democratic Senate majority would be fair in allocating money around the state and that Kaplan would an effective advocate for Long Island if for no other reason than wanting to keep the Senate majority and, in the case of Kaplan, keep her job.
Phillips, a former mayor of Flower Hill, has been an effective advocate for her district, working well with local and state officials on the third track project, the Islanders’ proposed arena at Belmont and environmental issues.
Questions remain about the ability of Kaplan, a North Hempstead Town councilwoman from Great Neck, to work with other officials in a similar fashion.
And while we have agreed with her on the issues on which she has taken a stand, Kaplan will need to develop a stronger grasp on some issues to be an effective advocate for her district.
We believe she will and, in the long run, the district and the state will be better served with her election.
Blank Slate Media endorse Kaplan.