Longtime public servant Susan Berland, a Democrat, is running for New York State Senate, challenging Mario Mattera, who currently holds the seat in the 2nd Senate District.
Berland, 61 of Dix Hills, is a former Suffolk County legislator and former Huntington Town board member. In a phone interview, Berland said she hadn’t initially planned to run for State Senate. But after the redistricting and Sen. James Gaughran announced he wouldn’t run, Berland started to get calls, with a singular message: “We need you to run.”
That’s when Berland, who was seeing gun violence increasing and the threat to Roe v. Wade, filed the papers for her candidacy.
“I’m ready to bring my 20 years of experience to the state,” said Berland, a former New York State assistant attorney general, who prosecuted parole violators and fought to keep dangerous criminals off the street.
In the race for State Senate, she said her top issues include tax relief for middle class families; tougher laws to reduce gun violence and “to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them”; quality healthcare including protecting reproductive rights; funding public schools; combatting opioid addiction and preserving clean water, parks and open space.
Public service to Berland means “making people’s lives better and helping them as best I can,” she said.
And public safety has long been a top priority.
“I’ve always supported our police, and advocated that they have resources they need,” while also “significantly” supporting victims’ rights, she said. It’s with that balance, she said, that I’m able to walk that line reasonably.”
Berland has said that she would not have voted for the original bail reform legislation, and that it needs reform as does its surrounding messaging.
And, she said, she listens to and fights for constituents.
She pointed to a law she cosponsored that was unanimously passed in 2018 as a Suffolk County legislator that required water parks and amusement parks to report any complaints or sexual misconduct or other criminal activity immediately to police. The law came about after a constituent told her about an incident at a camp outing at a water park, where young girls were allegedly groped in a wave pool. Although the girls allegedly complained to the counselors, and the park allegedly removed several men from the park, police were never called,
Berland said. With her cosponsored law, the park now has the obligation to call the police. Even years later, Berland said she is proud of that legislation, adding that she expressed to the alleged victim, “I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again, but if it does those people can be caught – and that’s thanks to you.”
Berland has been endorsed by Newsday, Moms Demand Action, National Organization for Women, Sierra Club, Eleanor’s Legacy, Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes Political Action Committee and NYS SAS.
This year, scare tactics and misinformation are ever-present. And early voting is bringing people out to the polls. All the while, Berland is actively campaigning.
“If everyone who told me they were voting for me actually went to the polls, I would have won my last race,” Berland pointed out.
Citizens may stay home whether they are “happy, sad or indifferent,” she said. Yet “they should exercise the right our veterans fought for to allowyou to vote. And if you don’t vote, how can you complain?”