5th State Senate District Preview: Marcellino vs. Gaughran

Republican Carl Marcellino is the incumbent senator in the 5th New York State Senate District. His challenger is James F. Gaughran, chairman of the Suffolk Water Authority.

Marcellino is also running on the Conservative, Independence and Reform Party lines. A Syosset resident, he was first elected to the state Senate in 1995 and serves as majority whip of the Senate Majority Conference and chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He also is a member of the Senate committees on finance, rules, labor, environmental protection and cultural affairs, parks, tourism and recreation. Editor’s note: We did not hear back from Sen. Marcellino for this story.

James F. Gaughran

Jim Gaughran, a Democrat, also is running on the Working Families and Women’s Equality Party lines. He has been  a public official for decades. In 1983, Gaughran, who lives in Northport, was elected to the Huntington Town Board, making him the youngest councilman in the town’s history. From 1988 to 1993 he was a Suffolk County legislator, representing the 17th District. With a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Stony Brook and a law degree from Hofstra Law School, Gaughran has experience working with families and businesses as both a public official and attorney. Gaughran has worked on numerous community issues such as funding for after-school activities, year-round recreational programs, environmental infrastructure and nonprofit organizations. He is chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority.

Q: Is protecting air, water and land a fundamental government responsibility and is the current system in use succeeding in protecting them?

A: The answer is yes that’s it’s an important responsibility. No, the current system isn’t doing enough. And one of my concerns is that there’s Long Islanders who are not getting their fair share of funding back as taxpayers who are sending $3 to the state and getting a dollar back — that means less money for environmental infrastructure programs. So we really need funding to upgrade sewage treatment plants and also to incentivize people to replace cesspools with state-of-the-art treatment centers and systems with new technology. People can’t afford to do this on their own and the taxpayers, certainly locally, are overtaxed, and this is where state funding should really be in play and make this happen.

Q: What are one or two things you’ve done with and for our community’s youth?

A: Well, as a private attorney I’ve worked with many young groups and community organizations. As a Suffolk County Legislator, I was very active in eradicating the drugs and getting rid of crack houses in Huntington Station. I also was instrumental in providing and bringing community grants to a whole variety of Huntington not-for-profit agencies including the Youth Bureau and other not-for-profits, including the drug counseling assisted money for after-school programs and, of course, when I was Town Councilman, I voted to expand all the town’s recreational programs, not just the summer programs but to create more programs during the winter, fall and spring, particularly for after-school activities. I voted and sponsored laws to create numerous new parks and swing sets, playgrounds, ballfields.

Q: Everyone wants safe neighborhoods for their children, now that the state received a $500,000 grant for the Project Safe Neighborhood Initiative, what are some of your intentions for the community?

A: Well, first of all, I think that grant is wonderful but, again, we should be getting more of our fair share of funding. I’d like to see more grants for police athletic-type programs. More funding for after-school activities for our school districts because one of the reasons we have them is two parents work and kids are home and need things to do and they may need a little supervision and so again it’s a question of the state providing more funds for us.

Q: Regarding the Trump tax plan, what is your position on a property tax cap?

A: I support the property tax cap, but I also support the efforts being made by the governor to sue the federal government. I believe it’s an unconstitutional attack on New York and also we need to provide some of the workaround being able to use it as a charitable deduction. I know the IRS is fighting that but we’ll again need to litigate that so I’m totally opposed to that and until we can get Congress to turn it around, I think the state is going to do all it can to fight this.

Q: When did you know you wanted to represent this community?

A: I had represented the community over 25 years ago as a county legislator and a town councilman, so public service has always been important to me. After my wife and I raised a family, put them through college, two years ago, I decided to run again for state Senate and I almost won. And I’m running again because I think all the issues I was running on two years ago, the situation in Albany has just gotten worse and the state senators have become almost totally dysfunctional at this point.

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