Fresh faces in LI's Assembly delegation
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"I had someone say to me: 'You taught about local government -- so why would you want to come to Albany?' " the assemblyman-elect said, chuckling. "But I think it's going to be really exciting."
Lupinacci will be one of the fresh faces to come to the State Capitol in January when the legislative session begins. In fact, Long Island's rookie Assembly delegation will feature three of the youngest lawmakers in the state: Democrat Michaelle Solages, 27, and Republicans Andrew Garbarino, 27, and Lupinacci, 33.
Garbarino and Solages have family political pedigrees. Garbarino's father is vice chairman of the Islip Republican Committee and a former candidate for the Suffolk County Legislature. Solages' brother, Carrié, is a Nassau County legislator.
With Democrats holding a 107-43 advantage in the Assembly, Garbarino said it's not realistic to think he'll get a large number of his bills passed, but added: "I don't think any of my bills will be too partisan."
Garbarino said he'll focus on constituent service, small business, veterans and state mandates on local governments.
Solages, of Elmont, will have a better chance at passing bills, but it will be hard for her to stand out among so many Democrats.
"The way I look at it, I have 106 advisers to guide me," Solages said. "I'm new at this, so I think I need to see the lay of the land. But where I can raise my voice, I will."
Solages, a library worker at Hofstra University, will represent a newly created district on the Queens border in southwest Nassau County. She said a priority issue will be development at Belmont Park racetrack.
"We have 430 acres of economic opportunity, so I really want to develop something there," she said.
Lupinacci, of Huntington Station, does have experience as an elected official -- he's in his third term on the South Huntington school board. While in college, he interned for Assemb. James Conte (R-Huntington Station), whom he is succeeding. Conte died in October after serving more than 20 years in office.
Lupinacci is a full-time faculty member at Farmingdale State College and teaches two political courses at Hofstra. He'll take a leave in January to come to the State Capitol.
Lupinacci said he'll focus primarily on the economy.
"Democrats and Republicans agree we need to grow the economy," Lupinacci said. "We have to put that in action and show we can reach across the [political] aisle."