In politics, there is an old axiom about news coverage: It doesn’t matter what they say about you as long as they spell your name right.
Even so, I want to set the record straight. Last week, without bothering to call me for comment prior to publication, Times/Review executive editor Grant Parpan published an op-ed regarding my residency as a candidate for the New York State Assembly. It presented only half of the facts and a half-baked version of the law.
Here’s my side of the story.
I have been a resident of the North Fork since my family moved here and I was enrolled in kindergarten at St. John the Evangelist Grammar School in Riverhead. My first job was at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead. I went to Riverhead Middle School and then Riverhead High School, where I played varsity baseball. I also represented Riverhead High School on News12’s Long Island Challenge quiz show.
After graduating from Riverhead High School, I went to Tulane University in New Orleans on an academic scholarship. When Hurricane Katrina struck, this very paper covered my experience. I returned to school in New Orleans. And I pitched in. I’m very proud of the disaster relief work I did in the years after the terrible storm. After I graduated from Tulane, I returned to my home, Riverhead. My next stop was Columbia Law School. When I graduated from Columbia, I returned to my home, Riverhead.
In 2011, I began a job at one of the country’s leading law firms, located in lower Manhattan. My practice there varies from representing some of the country’s best-known companies to, on a pro bono basis, being an advocate for families of children with autism. It’s a job infamous for 12- and 14-hour workdays and so, because it would be impossible to make a daily commute from my home, I spend weeknights at a modest apartment in Brooklyn.
I am now leaving my job to devote myself to our district and this campaign. I am doing so for several reasons. I think public service is a noble calling. I think politics should be a conversation about policy, and not a forum for personal invective. I want to do what I can to make sure that my community is a place where my friends and neighbors can find decent jobs, afford homes and build their lives.
Of course, I’m certain my political opponents don’t care about any of that. They have fixated on the apartment I maintain in Brooklyn. This is a red herring, but it appears Mr. Parpan has taken the bait. There is nothing wrong with someone maintaining a second residence, whether for convenience or necessity. If you know me well, you know that I am diligent and careful. I would not pursue this opportunity to serve unless I knew I was well within both the spirit and the letter of the law. Mr. Parpan and I may disagree about what the law should be, but he has no reason to suggest that I have been dishonest. My primary and legal residence has always been squarely in the middle of this Assembly District. It’s the center of my family life and social life. It’s the center of my political life. It always will be.
I’m running for New York State Assembly because my neighbors deserve a strong voice in Albany. If you’re considering my candidacy, I hope you won’t make the same mistake that Mr. Parpan did. If you still have questions about me or about my residency (or, heck, even about the very important issues facing the North Fork) please reach out to me at [email protected]. I’ll respond personally.
The author is the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Assembly District seat.