Suffolk Times Endorsements: Who we think you should vote for


For New York State Assembly: Anthony Palumbo

Last year, in our endorsement of Anthony Palumbo, we posed a question: “How much can a freshman legislator, in the lower house of the New York State Legislature, accomplish?” It wasn’t meant to imply a lack of skill on Mr. Palumbo’s part, but rather to point out the strategic disadvantage of sending someone in the minority to represent us in Albany. In the only session he spent in the state capital representing the 2nd Assembly District, we believe the answer to the question posed above is: Enough. No, everyday life is not completely different and better on the North Fork thanks to Mr. Palumbo’s efforts. But he’s largely made choices that reflect the needs of his constituents.

Mr. Palumbo supported the use of medical marijuana and brought about an exemption of the Community Preservation Fund tax for first-time homebuyers in Southold Town. He was out in front in supporting a delay in the rollout of Common Core and was able to pass tougher sentencing for hit-and-run drivers in the Assembly — though the effort stalled in the Senate — while bringing more state aid back to the district than Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially proposed.

His colleague in the upper chamber, Ken LaValle, certainly helped with some of those accomplishments, though others were votes that required Mr. Palumbo to reach across the aisle.

Challenging him is Democrat Tom Schiliro, a Suffolk County Parks police officer whose biggest beef with Mr. Palumbo is his lack of support for the last point in the 10-point Women’s Equality Act — a point that, supporters say, would essentially codify Roe v. Wade.

Mr. Palumbo, a former prosecutor, has withheld support in part because he says it would permit some who are unqualified — unemployed doctors, even dentists — to perform abortions. It’s a bit of an odd defense, fitting for a Republican lawyer, but Assembly Democrats’ refusal to split the bill up into 10 separate measures — nine of which would have passed both houses — is exactly the kind of politics we should be avoiding in Albany, not the kind we should be supporting. Mr. Schiliro’s support is troubling.

Mr. Schiliro has some more legitimate criticism of his opponent. It was unsettling to see Mr. Palumbo represent a private company — a company that had a driver with a suspended taxi license crash in Polish Town — in front of Riverhead’s Town Board. The company had its taxi licenses re-issued with conditions upon appeal, a decision which begs the question: Was the board listening to Assemblyman Tony Palumbo or to attorney Tony Palumbo?

Mr. Schiliro, who is retiring at the end of the year, says he would be able to devote his attention entirely to his duties as an assemblyman. As a candidate who touts his experience as a small-business owner, it would be nice to see Mr. Palumbo figure out a way to creatively avoid any conflicts of interest — or even the perception of a conflict of interest — between his business and his role as a publicly elected official. That said, Mr. Palumbo demonstrated during his brief time in Albany that he has the ability to bring his accomplishments back to the 2nd Assembly District. He again has our support.