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An unexpected challenger in CD1

Bridget Fleming poses for a portrait at the

Bridget Fleming poses for a portrait at the William H. Rogers Legislative Building in Smithtown on July 17, 2019. Credit: James Escher

Daily Point

Bridget Fleming jumps into race

Earlier this month, Bridget Fleming won reelection as a Suffolk County legislator. On Tuesday, she threw her hat in the ring for a different job — representing New York’s 1st Congressional District. 

That means that she’d have a role to return to in the county legislature should she lose, but also that there are only six months to go until New York’s primary day. 

"The stakes are too high for me to stay on the sidelines," the Noyac Democrat told The Point Tuesday. 

Fleming said she was encouraged by positive results for Democrats in Suffolk County in this year’s local elections.

And the prize is big — taking down Rep. Lee Zeldin, one of President Donald Trump’s key defenders. 

That prize has lured two Democrats already who have run aggressively for months — Nancy Goroff, a Stony Brook University chemistry professor, and Perry Gershon, an East Hampton businessman who ran against Zeldin last year. 

Each has raised more than a half-million dollars. Gershon hopes to capitalize off his 2018 performance, when he lost by just 4 percentage points. Goroff has earned an endorsement already from Emily’s List, the influential political group supporting Democratic women candidates who are pro-abortion rights.

But Gershon and Goroff have little political experience in the district, or a law enforcement background that might parry Zeldin’s military service. Fleming, on the other hand, worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan under Robert Morgenthau, and has served on the Southampton Town Board and the county legislature. She is stressing local issues like water protection that she has worked on as an elected official. 

The race is on for Fleming to catch up in fundraising. In 2018, newcomer Gershon accessed hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money and drastically outspent another local politician, Kate Browning, who never gained traction in the primary.

But some local power brokers see Fleming’s background as an asset that could change the field. 

“She has the skill, the experience and a base of support,” former congressman and ex-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee head Steve Israel wrote in an email. “If she can amass the resources she has the potential to break through the primary and compete with Lee.”

Suffolk County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer wrote that Fleming’s “record of accomplishment on both the little and big issues in Suffolk County make her an outstanding candidate.” He added that he believed she would make the race for the nomination “competitive and give Democrats another choice.”

He doesn’t think it is too late for fundraising, “because I think there are many groups and people that want to defeat Zeldin who will think Bridget is the strongest candidate.”

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

Making a list, checking it twice

It’s that time of year when the wish lists are long, and everyone wants a piece of pie. 

That’s true in Albany, too, as advocates craft their own lists as budget season approaches. 

For the Long Island Contractors Association, that means it’s time to ask state lawmakers for money for roads and other infrastructure. Just as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority comes out with a five-year capital plan that requires state funding, state lawmakers will look to the budget for road and highway improvements, too.

And as one of the busiest travel weekends approaches, it may come as no surprise that the needs are significant. 

This week, the association emerged with a study that shows that of 379 lane miles studied, 82 percent of Long Island roads are in poor or fair condition. Nearly 150 miles, or 39 percent, of roads tested were rated in poor condition, and only 1 percent were rated “excellent.”

Among the worst offenders were parts of the Northern State Parkway, Southern State Parkway, Meadowbrook State Parkway and Route 109, also a state road.

“All the discussion and attention has been focused on the MTA,” LICA executive director Marc Herbst told The Point. “The highway side has basically been overlooked and overshadowed.”

What’s more, because the MTA is considered a downstate funding issue, upstate roads sometimes get the priority, Herbst said. 

Nonetheless, Herbst has a list of asks, and is hoping the study will help boost his case. Besides general paving on some of the Island’s worst roads, Herbst said he’d like to see improvements to the Meadowbrook, particularly with the Nassau Hub’s redevelopment moving forward, and to the Northern State. 

Then there’s the biggest item on Herbst’s list: Widening the Northern State Parkway between the Wantagh Parkway and Route 110.

Not sure Santa will fit that under the tree.

—Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Pencil Point

Bulletproof

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Reference Point

It's the same old song

Along with death, taxes and turkey on Thanksgiving, one can add to the list of life’s verities: Assessment problems in Nassau County.

Seventy-eight years ago this week, Newsday’s editorial board sent its “inquiring photographer” to Hempstead to talk to residents after the village completed grievance hearings on property assessments.

And while opinions were hardly monolithic — some were satisfied, others not — they were utterly familiar.

Take Walter Bade of Lawson Street, a new homeowner who told the photographer he did not know whether his assessment was fair. “I am still not acquainted with the intricacies of the local laws, taxes and assessment ratings and so, for the next year, will just be learning the score,” Bade said.

There are current county legislators who are still learning the score.

Bade said that assessment rates of Hempstead Village and Nassau County should be compatible.

“The assessor should know personally just what he is assessing,” Bade said in a piece that appeared Nov. 28, 1941. “My property might be adjacent to another house which looks similar to mine but which costs more. Our rates should not be the same. However, this condition will eventually be corrected.”

Clearly, a newcomer to Nassau.

Charles Ritter of Botsford Street said the county rate was fine but quibbled about the “inequality of my assessments in comparison with others of the same type.” Ritter’s grievance was rejected. Still, he was sure a better day somehow in some way at some point would be coming.

“There must be a Utopian solution to this inequality in rating that now exists but I am not the one to present it at this time,” he said.

Then there was John Esposito, of Windsor Parkway, who perhaps channeled better than most the generations of homeowners who followed. Esposito, whose bid to reduce his assessment from $6,000 to $4,000 brought a smaller break to $5,200, lamented that “when Christopher Columbus first came to this country he must have built that house. It is assessed at $6,000 and it isn’t worth six cents to me...I have owned the house for the past 18 years and the taxes for this, that and the other thing are driving me dizzy. There must be some solution to the present assessment rating and I will bless the man who discovers it.”

Blessings or not, happy turkey day! But you might want to pass on that side of assessments.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

The Point will return on Monday. We hope you have a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving weekend.

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