Phillips says race could determine control of Senate, influence of suburbs

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Republican Elaine Phillips said her race with Democrat Adam Haber to represent the 7th Senate District was much bigger than the two candidates.
In an interview with Blank Slate Media on Monday, Phillips said if Haber were to win the election, it would tilt the state Senate to a party dominated by senators representing districts in New York City.
“The bottom line is that this race is above us, it’s above Adam Haber and Elaine Phillips,” she said. “It is about the balance of power and New York City politicians controlling New York State.”
Phillips, who is the Flower Hill Village mayor, pointed out that of the 31 Democratic senators, only three were based outside of New York City.
“You’re telling me that if I lose this election and the majority goes to the Democrats, that New York City is not going to control New York State? It will,” she said.
One of the areas that could be most affected by a  shift in power to the Democrats is education and state school aid, Phillips said.
Currently, the number of legislators is evenly split between the two parties; however, five Democratic legislators side with the Republicans.
She said there need to be “checks and balances” and a bipartisan government to ensure that the needs of all residents are catered to.
Phillips said she would work with senators of both parties to make sure that school districts in the 7th Senate District receive their “fair share” of state school aid.
Although Long Island educates 17 percent of students in the state, she said, it only received 12.7 percent of state aid.
“You want to work hard and you want to get the right things done for the 7th Senate District, for Nassau County, for Long Island and New York State,” Phillips said. “I don’t care what your political affiliation is, I want to make sure we have good representation in New York State.”
She said that she supports the current formula that is used by the state to determine how much school districts receive in state funding as long as they receive their “fair share.”
Phillips, who served on the Manhasset school board’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Finance, said she believes school districts in areas with lower property values receive more than districts with higher property values.
“It’s in the formula already,” she said. “We’ve got to make sure that the formula is correct, that somebody with lower income has to get more state aid.”
Phillips, whose background includes working in the financial services industry with companies like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, said that if elected, she would fight for better ethics in the state Legislature.
She said she would like to see more “transparency” in regards to both political donors and the bidding process.
New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office, Phillips said, should oversee the bidding process for  state contracts.
She touted her ethics record as a village mayor, which included rewriting the village’s ethics policies and requesting that an Architectural Review Committee member step down after starting to work with an architectural firm in the area.
“Do they do a lot of homes in Flower Hill? The answer is no,” Phillips said. “But they could do one, so I immediately asked him to step down.”
She said she would support term limits for state legislators, including either an eight- or 12-year limit for senators and a six-year limit on committee leaders, but is against full-time legislators.
Phillips also said she was opposed to state-funded campaigns.
“I truly do not want to pay for my opponent’s campaign,” she said. “And I believe that if my opponent was sitting here, he wouldn’t want to pay for my campaign either.”
Phillips said she would support eliminating the LLC loophole, which allows an individual or a single entity to give multiple donations to a political campaign.
Promoting affordable housing in the 7th Senate District, she said, was one of her top priorities.
While she does not “see a reason” to give tax breaks for multimillion-dollar luxury condominium buildings or hotels, Phillips said she supported plans that could help landlords of buildings that provide workforce or affordable housing.
“These are family-owned businesses that deserve the right that when energy costs go up, they deserve to be able to reflect that in their rent,” she said. “I’m not saying raise rent by 10 percent, but to have a reasonable rent stabilization plan.”
Phillips said she was in support of the state-mandated property tax cap, stating that there are ways for municipalities to remain under the tax cap and contain spending.
She touted her record in remaining under the tax cap and decreasing taxes in four of the five years she has served as mayor.
In terms of the state budget, Phillips said there was fat  that could be cut and that legislators needed to make “tough decisions” to do so.
Although she is currently opposed to the Long Island Rail Road’s proposal for a third track between Floral Park and Hicksville, she said she would support what the village mayors and constituents of the areas affected by the project wanted.
Phillips said her constituents have questions that need to be answered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the environmental impact of the proposal and whether the third track would  alleviate some of the congestion in the area.
She admitted that congestion was a problem on Long Island, stating that the Long Island Expressway is a “mess,” but did not offer a solution.
Phillips touted her environmental record in Flower Hill and her endorsement by the New York League of Conservation Voters.
She said preserving the environment and protecting the water, which she said was Long Island’s “most valuable resource,” was a major concern for her.
“I believe that we all have an obligation to leave the world in a better place,” Phillips said.
She said  both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation should be fully funded.
Phillips said she would support Roe v. Wade, a Supreme  Court ruling that states could not outlaw or regulate abortions performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, as state legislation.
Voters should vote for her in the race to replace outgoing state Sen. Jack Martins, she said, because of her experience as a mayor, her financial background and her desire to help constituents get what they need.
“What you do for 5,000 residents is the same thing you do for 500,000 or one million residents,” Phillips said.

By Joe Nikic

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