Just three months into John Mikulin’s tenure representing the State Assembly’s 17th District, James Coll, 45, of Seaford, announced that he would be challenging him for the seat this fall.
Coll, a 21-year detective with the New York Police Department, recently qualified to run in the Republican primary on Sept. 13. He received roughly 1,000 signatures to run, which is double the necessary amount, and filed his petitions with the Nassau County Board of Elections on July 12.
“I always knew that I wouldn’t be the pick of the party leaders,” Coll said. “But I could be the pick of the people.” Coll is running to break the trend of nepotism and favoritism in which, he said, the party is mired. He criticized the April special election that led to the victory of John Mikulin and said, “the same leaders that picked him [to run] in April, picked Skelos, Mangano and Venditto.”
The political arena is not foreign to Coll as, last September, he ran and lost against John Ferretti Jr. in the Republican primary for Nassau County Legislative District 15. Coll also has a background in teaching constitutional history, which he began at 27 with at Nassau Community College and, three years ago, at Hofstra University.
Coll also does advocacy work with the online nonprofit ChangeNYS.org, which he founded in 2013 and has since championed legislation to amend the way in which leaders are elected and put on the ballot in New York.
In response to Coll’s announcement, Mikulin said, “I am very proud of the work I’ve done in Albany and I hope to continue representing the people of this district.” He referenced some of the legislation that he has already helped pass, including a law that enacts term limits on state officers and another involving penalties on drug dealers, which, he said, has kept reputable kingpins off the streets.
Thomas McKevitt, who formerly held the seat and now represents legislative district 13, said, “[Mikulin] has done a superb job in just a brief period of time and I will continue to be supporting him in the future.”
Voters can cast their ballots on Sept 13. The district includes East Meadow, Seaford, Wantagh, Bethpage, Farmingdale, Levittown, Massapequa and Uniondale.