(By Adam Mayer). The South Shore has been inundated with so many mailers, meetings, phone calls, and advertisements all of which are confusing and sometimes conflicting. The upcoming special election this Tuesday, April 19, has received national attention not only because of the pending presidential primary on both parties but also because there is a massive ideological war taking place in Albany.
On one hand, the Democrat Todd Kaminsky, is a first-term Assemblyman and former federal prosecutor. As an Assemblyman he has made a noticeable and concerted effort to reach out to the community and for the most part has begun to develop good relationships with many of us, this author included. And there may be many points to which this author disagrees with Mr. Kaminsky, but there are likely more that we agree on that we do not. And to that end, this article will not engage in some of the ugly mudslinging we’ve all had to endure.
On the other hand, local community leader Chris McGrath is an accomplished trial attorney with substantial roots in the South Shore of Long Island. Having been born and bred in Inwood, and a product of private Catholic schools, he has much in common with the Jewish community both ideologically and geographically. Additionally, he has made it a priority of his platform to fight for both public and non-public school tuition relief, lower taxes, and term limits on elected officials among other agenda items. He has no substantial political background giving him the unique opportunity to fight for the causes solely upon his core values and not upon favors which he may owe others. Mr. McGrath has a stellar record as a successful, articulate, upstanding and ethical attorney who represented many people on a pro bono basis simply because they were from the community. Likewise, he has made substantial gestures to our community that he would be a very good friend of ours and fighter for our causes if elected Senator.
On its face value, it would appear that both candidates seem similarly qualified to capably represent our community. The policy differences between the two candidates are frankly minimal except for McGrath clearly being a stronger supporter of our core agenda items. So how does one reach a conclusion and decide upon whom they should cast their vote? What does it all boil down too? Let’s make an attempt to break it down succinctly.
The Senate is comprised of a total of 63 seats — of which 31 are held by the Republicans and 26 are held by the Democrats, and 5 are held by Democrats who have formed a coalition with the Republican majority who are called the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC) and one vacancy which the current special election is being fought for. There is also one Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans which is our good friend, Senator Simcha Felder from Brooklyn. This means that the current Republican majority is held on a very slim margin of literally one or two seats discounting the IDC and Sen. Felder. Furthermore, the IDC has not been completely clear that their coalition would stand should Mr. Kaminsky win on April 19. This illustrates the real and proximate ripple effects this election will have whichever way it goes.
Putting aside the inside baseball of the State Senate, the Republican majority has been the only true friend of the Jewish community in Albany. The Assembly, aside for a select few of our friends there, has vociferously fought against our agenda. The Governor’s office has sent all too frequent conflicting messages. On one hand, including our agenda items such as Education Investment Tax Credit, but then not being its champion in the budget. Sometimes the Governor does seem to support our agenda and sometimes he does not seem too. The Governor’s office, at least at this juncture cannot be relied upon to be our fighter for the foreseeable future. The only body which has consistently fought for and protected our interests, although admittedly they too are not perfect, is the Republican majority in the Senate.
If our community elects Todd Kaminsky to be our Senator we place our agenda in significant peril together with the Republican majority. Meaning, this is not about Todd Kaminsky or Chris McGrath, at least at this stage, this is about keeping the Republican majority in control of the Senate. It means not being an accomplice to the demise of our legislative agenda in securing funding for our schools, for our children, and for our communities. You see, it’s the Democratic Party that we simply should not and cannot support in any fashion in the Senate. We have so much to lose and absolutely nothing to gain. If you speak with any person who is politically active in the process, they will likely all tell you the same thing.
As we consider who to vote for this Tuesday, remember, we can have the nicest things to say about Todd Kaminsky, but it’s his party that we simply cannot support. It is Democratic control of the Senate, making Albany a single-party entity that we cannot support under any circumstances on April 19. Defeating Todd Kaminsky would not be a referendum of his skills, ethics or likability but rather a patent and outright rejection of the Democratic Party taking control of the Senate. Plain and simple.
It’s absolutely imperative that the entire community come out and cast their vote, and cast a vote indeed for your children, for your schools, and for your wallets. If we want to get real tuition relief, we need to keep the Republicans in control of the Senate and Tuesday is an opportunity to resoundingly do so by voting for Chris McGrath.
Adam Mayer is a resident of Inwood, New York and community activist for Jewish causes. He is the executive director of a private Jewish school in Far Rockaway, board member of several organizations and frequent volunteer with the needy. Follow him on Twitter @adamfmayer
NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of JP.
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