State Sen. Elaine Phillips (R-Flower Hill) cautioned Williston Park voters on Friday about what happened the last time the state was run by a single party.
“We got $14 billion in new taxes in two years’ time,” Phillips said. “And took $124 million in school aid and gave it to New York City.”
Phillips was referring to 2009 and 2010, when Democrats won a majority in both the state Senate and Assembly. Phillips also said that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul believes Long Island receives too much school aid, and that aid would be moved to the city if Democrats won a majority again.
Currently the state Senate is composed of 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans, but Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder of the 17th District caucuses with the Republicans, giving them a one-seat majority.
Phillips and other candidates running for office this November introduced themselves and presented their platforms at a meet and greet candidates night hosted by the Williston Park Civic Association.
Phillips’ opponent, North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, was slated to attend the candidates night but did not appear.
Also in attendance were Republican incumbent Ed Ra of Assembly District 19 and his Democratic challenger, Billy Carr, United States congressional candidate Dan DeBono and a candidate for Nassau County 3rd District Court judge, Tomasina Cuda Mastroianni.
“It was 42 years ago when I registered and I’m proud to be a Republican, but I never felt myself as Republican,” Phillips said. “I felt I was a working mother.”
“My job is to listen, and to make sure I get your tax dollars back in this Senate district,” Phillips said.
Phillips said she has fought back on billions in tax increases proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, helped increase school aid for her Senate district by $112 million and secured a $300,000 state grant for the Williston Park Fire Department.
Phillips also said she was in favor of “common sense gun control.”
“I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment, so we need to find a middle ground,” Phillips said. “So much of this violence in our schools comes down to mental health.”
Phillips said she was pro-choice during a question and answer segment of the night, but was not in favor of the Reproductive Health Act.
“What I’m not for is doing late-term partial birth abortions and non doctors,” Phillips said. “The Reproductive Health Act allows a woman, through a licensed healthcare provider, to opt to get an abortion up to 40 weeks, and I’m not a believer in that.”
“If Roe v. Wade ever needed to be codified in New York state, which I don’t think it ever will, I would support that legislation,” Phillips said.
Mastroianni, currently a support magistrate of Nassau County Family Court, is a lifelong resident of Carle Place and says she “will dispense equal justice to all that come before her,” and champion community involvement.
“I’m here because it’s important that you know who is running for candidate as a judge,” Mastroianni said. “We don’t get to campaign the same as all the other candidates.”
Former state Sen. Jack Martins expressed confidence in endorsing Mastroianni.
“I’ve known her and her family and we’ve practiced together many years ago on several issues,” Martins said. “You want to make sure that the judge is someone you can trust and is going to be fair to everybody, and this is the person we can trust.”
In addition to her position at the Family Court, Mastroianni works as a Hempstead public school mentor through the Nassau County Bar Association.
“It’s very rewarding but difficult,” Mastroianni said. “I get back a lot more from it than anything.”
DeBono, a Republican running against Rep. Tom Suozzi for New York’s 3rd Congressional District, spoke at length about his plans to strengthen the middle class economy.
“What’s happened to Long Island over the past 20 years is wages have been stagnant,” DeBono said. “At the same time, we’ve seen our taxes increase 2 to 5 percent per year. We’re all getting squeezed.”
He said that developments in technology and trends of globalization have eliminated a lot of jobs on Long Island. DeBono also said that if elected to Congress, he wants to “back up” and support President Donald Trump’s trade negotiations.
“How do you feel about anti-trust laws being applied to Silicon Valley?” Williston Park Mayor Paul Ehrbar asked DeBono.
“I think we need to break up Google and break up Amazon,” DeBono said. “We need to keep a close eye on Facebook and Apple. You cannot have a representative democracy when there are trillion dollar companies with more power than 95 percent of the nations on Earth.”
Carr, the Democratic candidate for Assembly District 19, said the issues that he would focus on if elected were school funding, LIRR construction and combating the opioid epidemic.
“I’ll fight for the middle class,” he said. “I’m a working class man, and I’ll never be a career politician.”
“What I’d like to fight for is to bring back tax dollars to our schools,” Carr said.
Ed Ra, Carr’s opponent and the District 19 incumbent, said his work in the Assembly over the last eight years has supported the district and he would continue to work on bipartisan issues with the Democratic majority.
“When we actually come together, we start to move in the right direction,” Ra said. “We need to continue to do things like that and especially need to do things in a transparent manner.”
Ra also stressed the importance of introducing independent oversight in local government to combat corruption and empowering the “rank and file” of the Assembly.
“There is far too much power centralized in one person in the Assembly, the speaker,” Ra said. “I think that’s not just a good government thing, but an ethic solution as well.”
“We need to get more serious about having oversight of the entire Legislature, an ethical body and a truly independent entity that when something comes before them they investigate and weed out corruption,” Ra said.