Behind the curmudgeonly and perpetually bemused facade of Republican Kemp Hannon, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience that is critically valuable to both Long Island and the state. Hannon, 72, of Garden City, has been in the State Senate since 1990, serving 13 years in the Assembly before that.
As a walking repository of legislative history, combined with his nuts-and-bolts understanding of critical issues, it’s hard to imagine him not there, even if you disagree with some of his positions.
Chair of the Senate’s Health Committee, Hannon is working on improving water quality by setting standards to measure contaminants, and he is writing regulations to squeeze the waste from Medicaid funding. Hannon also shepherded into law a program that, starting in 2019, will require chain pharmacies to collect unwanted prescription medications for proper disposal.
Hannon’s skepticism and expertise will be needed as Democrats propose a single-payer health system, which he opposes, and move toward legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, of which he is suspicious because there is no reliable test for driving while under the drug’s influence. He says a priority should be treating those struggling with heroin and opioid addiction by adding inpatient beds and integrating treatment for mental illness into the health care system.
Democrat Kevin M. Thomas, 34, of Levittown, is a civil rights attorney who worked on high-profile cases to help those saddled with consumer debt, especially student loans. He decided to seek elective office because of his anger at policies of President Donald Trump. Thomas is passionate about making the criminal justice system fairer and supports marijuana legalization to end racial disparities, regulate its quality and increase revenue to the state. He is a welcome new face to politics, but should first seek office on a local level.
Newsday endorses Hannon.
— The editorial board