This year’s special election for state Assembly features two formidable candidates in John McManmon, endorsed by the Democratic, Independence and Working Families parties, and Anthony Palumbo, running on the Republican and Conservative lines.
Both are newcomers to politics, having never held public office before. Both believe towns should have more control over how to regulate the deer population. They’re both lawyers. And both cite high property taxes as a main reason they are seeking the Assembly seat, though unfortunately, neither offered much in the way of cost-cutting ideas to offset the tax cuts they propose.
But each candidate offers a different set of strengths and weaknesses.
We believe Mr. Palumbo is better suited to represent us in Albany.
Mr. Palumbo is quick to note he has “skin in the game” as a candidate for public office. The phrase sneaks in through the back door to allude to the fact that his opponent did not live in the district full-time, residing in Brooklyn when he announced this May that he wanted to represent the people who live and work here.
While we don’t doubt Mr. McManmon’s desire to improve the quality of life for district residents, we do think there is some truth to the point that it seems rather presumptuous for someone to announce their candidacy for public office while living somewhere else five out of seven days a week.
Mr. McManmon is smart, and having a Democrat in the Assembly majority could prove valuable for area residents. But a lot has changed since the 28-year-old graduated from Riverhead High School. He needs some time to figure out exactly how it has changed — and precisely how he can be of service to taxpayers.
Mr. Palumbo moved to New Suffolk 13 years ago to call the 2nd District his home. The Patchogue native has since worked as an assistant district attorney and currently runs a local law practice with his wife.
In the wake of state legislation creating fast-track opportunities for businesses looking to locate at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, we see Mr. Palumbo as someone who could complement his colleague in the state Legislature, state Senator Ken LaValle, in crafting further legislation to bring high-paying jobs to the East End. The 43-year-old is an effective communicator — even after being brought off his talking points.
Sending a freshman legislator of the minority party to Albany is a risk. The question arises: How much can someone in such a position accomplish? But playing politics in choosing public officials raises a whole other set of questions. We don’t see Mr. McManmon as someone who is able – at least, not yet – to legislate effectively at the state level. If his interest in serving the public is as real as he says it is, he’ll stick around, further acclimate himself to the issues at hand and work from the ground up to make the East End a better place to live.
Mr. Palumbo, meanwhile, has his work cut out for him should he make it to Albany. We’ll see if he’s up to the task.