Battle for Brookhaven
The Town of Brookhaven often plays a big bellwether role in races for the 1st Congressional District, at least in its current iteration. In both a Democratic primary and a general election, the town is home to some 65% of the district’s active enrollment, according to December stats.
So it's no surprise CD1 Democratic hopefuls are eager to boast about their Brookhaven inroads. Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming is doing just that this week by unveiling endorsements from a list of 21 current members and leaders from the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee, including former chair Lillian Clayman and multiple members from the legislative district of Fleming’s colleague and primary opponent, Kara Hahn.
Fleming campaign manager Seth Cohen argues that endorsements like this are indicative of the "broader momentum of the campaign," and that the support from "seasoned, active members of the Democratic committee" would translate to people knocking on doors, making phone calls, and talking to friends in a crucial area of the district.
All of the above, Cohen told The Point, would be helpful fodder when making the case to potential donors — and fundraising is a big focus at this stage in the cycle.
Hahn’s campaign says it has its own Brookhaven endorsers, including town Councilman Jonathan Kornreich, Assemb. Steven Englebright, and Vivian M. Viloria-Fisher, who ran in the primary for CD1 in 2018, when the candidate who won Brookhaven, Perry Gershon, went on to win the primary.
Hahn also has backing from Nancy Goroff, who emerged victorious in the crowded 2020 CD1 primary, in which Goroff also bested her opponents in Brookhaven — including nearly doubling the town total of Fleming that time around.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
43 years later, an affordable housing project looks ready
In 1978, newcomers to Suffolk County could find a home for between $25,000 and $50,000. A gallon of gas cost around 65 to 70 cents. And the year was perhaps best known for a massive blizzard that hit in February, dumping about 26 inches of snow on Long Island MacArthur Airport.
In 1978, developer Peter Florey was a college student, working part time in a submarine factory in Connecticut. Pilar Moya-Mancera was in elementary school in Peru.
And in 1978, an affordable housing project known as Matinecock Court was first proposed.
Forty-three years later, a 4-1 vote of the Huntington town board Tuesday may have paved the way for Matinecock Court to break ground this summer. The vote allows developer Florey and the nonprofit Housing Help, where Moya-Mancera serves as executive director, to move forward with a change to the project so that its 146 units will now be considered limited equity cooperatives, rather than a mix of rental and ownership.
"It’s the end of the beginning," Moya-Mancera told The Point Wednesday.
The board’s vote officially supports an amendment to a court settlement reached by the town and Housing Help in 2000 after a lengthy fair housing legal battle — but the amendment now requires the court’s OK. By Wednesday, Florey already was taking the next steps, beginning to prepare documents to file that amended agreement in federal court. With town, development and nonprofit officials all on board, the hope, Florey said, is the court will sign off on it "quickly."
Simultaneously, Florey said, he will be working on small redesign changes and finalizing funding agreements with the state and county.
The only "no" vote Tuesday came from incoming Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth. But Florey said Smyth’s opposition doesn’t concern him.
"We’re looking forward to working collaboratively, as we have before, with the town to move this forward," Florey said.
While Florey is relatively new to Matinecock Court, his partner, Housing Help Inc. — and its board president Ulysses Spicer — has been involved since the beginning.
Spicer told The Point he moved to Huntington in 1975 and joined Housing Help shortly after Matinecock Court first was proposed.
"It’s been a very, very long time of waiting and working," Spicer said. "We had many opportunities to discuss and seriously consider selling [the property]. But we did not do that."
Instead, after Tuesday’s vote, even Spicer is now at a point where he calls himself "quite optimistic" about the project’s future.
What a difference 43 years can make.
— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall
Out of the Fox hole
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Maneuvering in CD3
With Rep. Tom Suozzi still committed to a gubernatorial bid, the 3rd Congressional District he represents has become one of the more intriguing political zones on Long Island, attracting hopefuls from different ideological lanes.
On one side, Nassau County Legis. Joshua Lafazan launched a bid this week touting his youth and electability with a "record of winning across party lines," according to an announcement email.
Lafazan, who had been an independent who caucused with Democrats, just switched his party registration to the D side, a move which took effect Dec. 1.
On the more left-leaning side is former CD3 primary challenger Melanie D'Arrigo of Port Washington, whose vote total Suozzi more than doubled in 2020. She has recently earned endorsements from activist groups like No IDC NY, which challenged Independent Democratic Conference incumbents in the State Legislature in 2018. In the wake of Suozzi’s gubernatorial bid, she’s calling herself the "progressive frontrunner."
It’s a familiar partisan breakdown in the district, where Suozzi has for years boasted of his bipartisanship and activists have sniped about the same. Lafazan is already facing criticism from the likes of David Kilmnick of the LGBT Network and NAACP Long Island regional director Tracey Edwards for his legislative attempt earlier this year to enhance legal protections for law enforcement and other first responders under the county Human Rights Law.
It was seen as a way to gain favor with police and their supporters in a red-wave year ahead of a tight legislative race that Lafazan went on to win. But some of the law’s detractors considered it a philosophical about-face.
Sedgwick V. Easley, pastor of the Union Baptist Church in Hempstead, told The Point he stood with Lafazan during the legislator’s push to rename a county building after Shirley Chisholm in 2020. But he felt the police bill showed that Lafazan "is not clear on what side of the issues that he stands on."
Lafazan says that he’ll "never apologize for supporting first responders," but said that the bill "could have been written better" and that he learned the importance of speaking to community leaders affected by legislation.
Meanwhile, other potential candidates from Democratic National Committee member and communications professional Robert Zimmerman to Suffolk Deputy County Executive Jon Kaiman have kept their names in the offing while Suozzi’s statewide race and CD3’s borders in the current redistricting process shake out.
Then there’s Reema Rasool of Oyster Bay who is planning to announce "within the coming weeks," says spokesman Luca Rallis. Rasool has a consulting firm which is described as "Branding, Marketing and Strategy for the Luxury Market" on its Facebook page, and Rallis describes the potential Democratic political hopeful as a "pragmatic progressive" who would fight for such things as Medicare For All and an end to the country’s gun violence epidemic.
While the water’s still inviting, don’t expect her to be the last.
— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano