Long Islanders share many of the same dreams and worry mostly about the same problems.
The cost of living is too high, but we value the quality of education and the recreational pleasures the Island offers. We want great roads, less traffic and better public transportation. Honest services from our elected officials are nonnegotiable, while the management of local government must be smart and efficient. We want our businesses to prosper, and we want to lend a helping hand to those in need.
Our representatives in the New York Senate must protect what makes us unique and find ways to make our lives here sustainable.
The campaigns for those 63 seats are exceptionally harsh this year because control of the chamber could be shaken up for good. As it stands, Republicans hold 31 seats and one Brooklyn Democrat caucuses with them. Meanwhile, a breakaway group of five to six Democrats called the Independent Democratic Conference shares power with the GOP. If Democrats win four or five of the nine Senate seats on Long Island, the power fulcrum could shift dramatically to mainline Democrats.
That’s why Democrats are painting a picture of GOP corruption, linking incumbents to convicted former Senate leader Dean Skelos, and in the last few days, to recently indicted Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, all Republicans. Democrats claim they will pass even stricter ethical reforms, measures the GOP refuses to consider.
Republicans, in turn, are running ads that portray New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as the embodiment of the urban creature who will steal your car . . . and your education funding. If the Senate goes the way of the Democratic-controlled Assembly, they say, de Blasio will take all the money for local roads and, as one GOP candidate claimed during an endorsement interview, use it to build a monorail from Manhattan to Queens. While competing for state resources is a fact of legislative life, the city’s prosperity is closely linked to Long Island’s fortunes from Queens to the Twin Forks.
Democratic control hasn’t been good in the past, especially in 2009-10, when two Democrats from Long Island helped pass the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll mobility tax and reduce aid to education in some districts because of the recession. Now Democrats say they’ve gotten the message and will form a suburban coalition with members from Westchester and the Hudson Valley to maintain school funding and keep the property-tax cap in place. The proof will be in the delivery.
Each party faces another challenge: While Long Island voter registrations now tilt more Democratic than Republican, about 25 percent are unaffiliated, a trend that is accelerating. The best leaders will be those who understand that navigating the city-suburban fault line is more important than fighting old party wars.
This week, the editorial board will endorse candidates in Long Island’s nine State Senate races. We are recommending the best candidates based on their knowledge, experience and portfolio of ideas.
No one party has a monopoly on good ideas or good government. — The editorial board