For John Flanagan, winning this year means more than getting elected to an eighth term. That’s easy in this heavily Republican district, where he is very popular.
As the State Senate’s majority leader, however, Flanagan’s future as an Albany power broker depends on the GOP keeping control of the chamber, which it does in a coalition with breakaway Democrats. Flanagan took the gavel in early 2015 after a federal corruption indictment led to the resignation of then-leader Dean Skelos of Rockville Centre.
What Flanagan, 55, of East Northport, has done for his district mirrors the larger effort of the GOP conference to increase school aid and bring home a large pot of state funding for regional development. Although the Republican led the passage of some long- overdue ethical reforms for lawmakers, more needs to be done to limit outside income and tighten campaign financing rules.
Flanagan can best help his home county by finding a way to fund sewage and septic systems that would remove nitrogen from our waterways. Suffolk leaders want to put a referendum on the ballot in 2017 that would implement a water-usage fee. But Flanagan has been a roadblock, saying taxing water is bad public policy.
Unless Flanagan has a better plan, one that would direct state dollars to that effort, for example, he shouldn’t use his leadership position to override local control of environmental issues.
Democratic challenger Peter Magistrale, 25, is an accountant from St. James. He is armed with an array of theories, including how the wealthy and powerful have devised Common Core education standards to deny common people the intellectual skills needed to fight corporate propaganda.
Newsday endorses Flanagan.