The battle for former Assemb. Al Graf’s 5th Assembly District seat pits Democrat Deborah Slinkosky, who twice tried to unseat him, against Republican Doug Smith, Graf’s top aide during his entire seven-year tenure in Albany.
Smith, 27, making in his first run for office in Tuesday’s special election, said, “I’m the only candidate in the race who has shown the experience to get things done” in Albany on issues such as Common Core and battling opioid abuse.
Even as members of the GOP Assembly minority, “Al and I showed you can get a lot done, if you don’t care who gets the credit,” by working on others’ legislation, Smith said.
Slinkosky, 61, said that as a member of the Democratic majority, she could do more for the district. She also says this time around, she has a better chance of winning because there is no incumbent.
“Voters are feeling squeezed,” said Slinkosky, referring to high taxes. “I feel squeezed too . . . we’ve been underrepresented for way too long.”
Smith and Slinkosky, both Holbrook residents, are looking to represent a district that straddles the Islip-Brookhaven border. There are 29,423 registered Republicans, 24,301 Democrats and 22,276 are not aligned with any party. Smith also has the Conservative, Independence and Reform parties’ ballot lines.
Smith has raised $46,683 during the race, spent $27,794 and has $18,889 on hand, according to his fundraising reports.
Slinkosky has raised $2,077, including $1,000 that she contributed to her campaign and $1,000 from the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy, a Democratic women’s political action committee. She has $1,525 on hand.
Slinkosky has worked for a decade as a neighborhood aide for the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, where she does financial analysis.
She says she has many more years of experience than Smith as a community leader. “I’m a true public servant,” she said.
Slinkosky served on the Sachem School Board from 2005 to 2008 and is a past member of the Islip Youth Board. She ran unsuccessfully for Islip tax receiver in 2007, getting 45 percent of the vote.
Smith said that as Graf’s aide, he fixed more than 2,000 constituent problems, and that he has knocked on more than 3,000 doors during the Assembly campaign.
Graf left office in January to become a District Court judge, and Smith went to work as a part-time aide to Islip Town Board member James O’Connor.
“Having grown up locally, I’m looking to help my community,” Smith said. “I’ll stand up for what’s right regardless of party.”
Slinkosky said she favors legislation to impose term limits on state elected officials, and would serve no more than 10 years if elected.
She wants a state system of universal health care, equal pay laws for women and a ban on unlimited campaign contributions for limited liability companies.
Slinkosky also favors laws to raise age limits for firearms purchases and ban bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire faster.
“I have concerns for people so they can have good jobs, health care and they can safely raise their children here and not be driven out,” she said.
Smith said he helped fashion successful Assembly legislation that permits school use of Narcan, which treats opioid victims, and worked toward creation of a state website that helps people find beds for alcohol and substance abuse treatment. He also helped lobby statewide to increase protections for victims of domestic violence.
Smith said if elected he would focus on assisting a grass-roots community effort already underway to clean up Lake Ronkonkoma.
He said he also will press state Transportation Department officials to undertake a review of the six-mile stretch of Middle Country Road between Lake Grove and Selden to improve safety. “It’s dangerous and people are getting hurt. If elected, it’ll be the first call I’ll make when I take office.”
Education/career: Bachelor’s degree in business management and communications, Adelphi University; Master’s degree in public policy, Stony Brook University. Works as a Suffolk Department of Social Services neighborhood aide doing financial analysis. Former operations supervisor, Chemical Bank; also worked for Dime Savings Bank.
Family: Married with three adult children.
Education/career: Bachelor’s degree majoring in mathematics, St. Joseph’s College. State Assembly legislative aide, 2011-2018. Owns a web design business; worked as a substitute math teacher in Sachem High School North.
Family: Married, expecting first child.