The race for New York’s 6th Senate District features a choice between two residents of Levittown, the famous birthplace of the American suburb. But more so, the race presents a choice between the Levittown of the past and the Levittown of the future.
The Republican challenger is Dennis Dunne Sr., 70, a Marine veteran and Levittown political mainstay who was an original member of the Nassau County Legislature and now serves on the Hempstead Town Board.
The first-term incumbent is Democrat Kevin M. Thomas, 36, who before his 2018 win worked as a staff attorney at the New York Legal Assistance Group and represented defendants sued over consumer debt.
Thomas has been a fresh presence in Albany and, as an Indian American immigrant, a symbol of the demographic changes that have come to Levittown. He has been an able chairman of the Senate’s Consumer Protection Committee, rightfully evoking a sense of outrage in hearings in response to Newsday’s "Long Island Divided" housing bias series — a three-year investigation which found evidence of unequal treatment of minority homebuyers on Long Island, the kind of practice that helped keep Levittown mostly white for so long.
Thomas faced serious confrontations in 2019 from his co-sponsorship of a bill to repeal the religious exemption from vaccination requirements — an issue even more pressing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic — but he rightly stayed the course. He must bring to bear that fortitude and all the creativity he can muster to help save Nassau University Medical Center, the county’s crucial safety-net hospital past and present.
Dunne well understands the NUMC challenges and many of the others facing the district. But on many issues he is acting the part of the conservative reflexively yelling: Stop. That includes bail reform, which Dunne said was the issue that made him run. Rather than being the travesty of GOP fixation, it was a clunky but overdue overhaul that might need more tinkering but was the right move for New York.
Thomas is the right choice for the future of Levittown and the entire 6th Senate District.
Newsday endorses Thomas.
— The editorial board