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Rona Smith of Greenport to challenge Palumbo for Assembly seat

Rona Smith of Greenport will challenge Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo in November’s election.

Ms. Smith, 73, who chairs the Southold Town Housing Advisory Commission, said local Democratic party leaders asked her to run because of her history of volunteerism and activism.

She said she doesn’t know Mr. Palumbo, a Republican, and has been told he’s a nice person. But, she said, his voting record is what she opposes, including his opposition to the single-payer health care program “which might save us from fear of being sick.”

Ms. Smith said her son and her husband died of different types of cancer about five years ago — just 12 days apart.

Her son, who was a triathlete, avoided going to the doctor because he couldn’t afford insurance, she said.

Mr. Palumbo, of New Suffolk, said the New York Health Care Act is too expensive and is estimated to cost more than the entire state budget. He said he voted for legalizing medical marijuana but opposes legalizing recreational marijuana.

“Marijuana is a drug and to legalize it is a bad idea,” he said. “There’s a gateway aspect to it.”

Ms. Smith’s background includes teaching English in a junior high school. She has also been involved in real estate and has written about real estate theory and practice at Columbia University’s Columbia Caseworks, which develops case studies and materials for use in Columbia Business School classrooms. In addition, she taught real estate finance at New York University.

She has a degree from Queens College, a master’s and a Ph.D. from New York University and an MBA from Columbia.

For the past 15 years, she has done volunteer work, including the Housing Advisory Commission.

She feels student loans are another huge issue, because college graduates end up owing an average of $39,000, which most will never be able to pay back.

Mr. Palumbo considers his primary accomplishments to include passing the first-time homeowner exemption from the East End’s 2 percent land transfer tax, getting a mental health initiative on the North Fork and getting the state to preserve almost 900 acres near the former Shoreham nuclear plant.

“Taxes, jobs, water quality and environment are the four main issues,” he said.

Michael Yacubich of Shoreham had hopes to run against state Mr. Palumbo in a primary for the Republican line, but has had his petitions invalidated by the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

Mr. Yacubich plans to challenge the ruling in court.

“We had 850 signatures and we needed 500,” he said.

Mr. Palumbo also has the Conservative and Independence party nominations, so his name will be on the November ballot regardless of who might win a primary.

Mr. Yacubich is an accountant and financial adviser, chief of the Rocky Point Fire Department and a former Shoreham-Wading River Board of Education member.

“The main reason I chose to get involved is that I have listened for the last 25 years on how we need to control the cost of living on Long Island so that our seniors and our kids can afford to live here,” Mr. Yacubich said in an interview. “I haven’t really seen much progress in that area. My kids are in college, starting to graduate and figure out where they are going to end up, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to stay on the island.

“If things don’t turn around, I probably won’t be able to stay here myself,” he added.

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