Marcellino, Gaughran rematch for N.Y. Senate district 5


Republican Senator Carl Marcellino, who has represented the North Shore’s Fifth Senate District for 23 years, is once again being challenged by attorney, James Gaughran, a Democrat. The last race between the two in 2016 was a close one, with Gaughran losing by only 1,761 votes.

We provided the candidates with a few questions to assist voters in making their choice when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.

Herald Gazette:
What can you do at the state level to help facilitate the economic development of the North Shore, and how should development be balanced against the area’s historical character?

Carl Marcellino: Cutting taxes, creating jobs and investing in our local infrastructure are critical to the economic development of the North Shore. We need a business environment that attracts new companies and helps keep our current employers from looking for perceived greener pastures. This is achieved by cutting business taxes even more and fighting against endless efforts in Albany to raise taxes across the board.

I will sponsor and support legislation that will reduce the state’s excessively high tax burden on businesses, remove regulatory barriers to growth, and invest in workforce development initiatives that provide better jobs.

We need to make sure the North Shore is getting its fair share of Regional Economic Development investments from the state. To date, over $570 million and 667 projects have come to Long Island. We deserve more, and I will fight to make that happen.

Responsible development can be achieved without sacrificing the integrity of our community. Sound planning, and public input are critical.

James Gaughran: New York State must invest in repairing its crumbling infrastructure. A commitment to smart growth in our communities can help expand the tax base and lower all of our property taxes. But Albany keeps sending our tax dollars to other corners of the state. By ensuring we get our fair share of tax dollar reinvested into Long Island, we can repair the LIRR. Investing in our highways can help lower the transportation costs and end the NYS DOT’s haphazard habit of providing minor patches when significant repairs are needed. But we’re not seeing that here on Long Island. The same politicians keep sending our money Upstate and to NYC projects. This needs to change.

We must fight to preserve the North Shore’s character. We need a voice in Albany to fight back against projects like the tunnel that would destroy the North Shore as we know it.

Herald Gazette: What changes can you affect in Albany to help the North Shore deal with some of its environmental concerns, contaminated wells and the ecological health of the Sound, for example?

CM: I believe the issues facing Long Island’s water quality are complex and need a variety of programs to address them. A majority of our water quality funding comes from the Environmental Protection Fund. In 2007, my bill increasing the EPF to $300 million became law.

Long Island needs significant wastewater infrastructure upgrades. The proper treatment of sewage will reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Sound.

I sponsored bills that require all water well drillers to be certified to ensure that our aquifers are protected. I supported the disposal of toxic dredge spoils in marine district waters to protect fish and birds from contamination and a bill that created the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Commission, which works to find a solution with a four-point program to combat harmful algal blooms.

JG: As Chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority, I’ve been able to provide our ratepayers with the lowest rates in the nation, while maintaining perfect AAA bond ratings from both Fitch and S&P. We need state funding to allow for smart sewage expansion so that discharges will not negatively impact groundwater or surface water like the Long Island Sound.

State grants should be available for residents to replace aging cesspools with mini treatment systems. To pay for these programs, we need to pursue aggressive legal action against polluters, like Grumman, that have caused serious damage to our aquifers to assist with paying for remediation.

To prevent the contamination of our aquifer, we must work to prevent overdevelopment here on Long Island. One such step would be to convert the lands at the end of Route 135 into a “forever wild” preserve to prevent any future plans for a bridge or tunnel from ever gaining traction.

HG: Significant portions of your districts have suffered from a reduction in the number of jobs. What can be done at the state level to reverse this trend?

CM: I will continue to stand with Long Island businesses to reduce taxes and reform the numerous regulations that hamper economic growth.

Workforce development initiatives, combined with cutting the red tape and cost of doing business in New York, will provide better opportunities to attract new businesses and allow our existing businesses to grow and thrive.

JG: Too many of our small businesses are closing because our property taxes are just too high. For too long, Albany has treated Long Island as the state’s ATM. For every $3 we are taxed, only $1 gets reinvested here.

By ensuring our tax dollars come back to Long Island, and increasing state aid to our public schools, we can provide real property tax relief for local residents and business owners, while maintaining high quality schools.

New York also needs to change the way that industrial development agencies operate. Far too often, IDAs give tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks to local developments that promise to create hundreds of jobs but end up only creating a handful. Legislation needs to be created that allows for regular audits of the PILOTs that take away from the local tax-base and ensure that the jobs promised are real. We should be rewarding the businesses that actually create jobs, not just the ones that talk about it.

HG: What is your stance on gun legislation?

CM: New York State has the strictest gun control laws in the nation. I voted for the SAFE Act. During the 2018 session, I voted for a new law removing guns from domestic abusers and closing a loophole in state law that will ensure domestic abusers are required to surrender all firearms, not just handguns.

I believe we need to put our focus into greater investment in mental health initiatives and preventing individuals with mental health issues from obtaining guns. It is also important to continue to support legislation that removes the illegal guns favored by dangerous criminals from our neighborhoods.

JG: The New York State Senate needs to start passing common-sense gun safety legislation. Too many crucial bills go nowhere in the State Senate out of fear of upsetting the NRA.

We can pass the “red-flag” law, that would allow teachers and community members to identify to the authorities individuals that may be a danger to themselves or others. After an investigation and judicial review, if that individual is deemed too dangerous to own a gun, they will be prohibited from owning one.

Bump-stock trigger devices serve no justifiable purpose for hunting. All they do is allow a shooter to spray thousands of bullets like the Las Vegas shooter, but they’re still legal here in New York. They shouldn’t be.

We must ensure the authorities have a full 10 days to complete background checks on individuals seeking to buy a firearm, rather than automatically approving purchases where the background check cannot be completed within three days.

I recently proposed legislation that anyone on a sex offender registry be prohibited from owning a firearm.