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EDITORIAL: Newsday's endorsement in the 5th State Assembly District

Republican Alfred Graf sees the state Assembly as a group split between New York City interests and the rest of the state. He wants to reach out to lawmakers from outside of the city to build a "suburban-rural coalition to balance power.''

But first, Graf needs to beat Democrat Kenneth Mangan and three-term incumbent Ginny Fields, the Working Families and Independence party nominee.

Mangan, 55, of Sayville, won the primary with the support and phone banks of union teachers, who were angered when Fields urged educators to accept a pay freeze. Mangan is a former owner-operator of local businesses, and has founded the admirable Every Child's Dream charity for homeless children. He has been a counselor at county agencies for the aging and labor, but has little other government or political experience. That's where the editorial board believes Graf has a leg up.

Graf, 52, a lawyer from Holbrook, was a four-year supervisor of upstate Brighton, a town of about 1,600, in the 1990s. Former officials there recall that Graf found grant money for projects, put records on computers for the first time, and brought people together. He says he organized Adirondack Park towns to speak with a collective voice.

Graf brings his experience as a Navy veteran and New York City policeman (he left on disability), a bachelor's degree in elementary education and more recently a Touro Law degree. Graf favors giving SUNY campuses leeway to set their own tuitions, restoring STAR rebate checks and repealing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax while looking for greater efficiency at the agency. He defends the state's current defined-benefit pension system for union workers, but backs efforts to have elected and appointed officials switch to a defined-contribution plan.

Fields, 64, of Oakdale, has been attentive to district needs and is running hard for her seat, but has not made the case for returning.

Newsday endorses Graf.


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