Bill Bodkin, an attorney, activist, and founder of the Port Washington Democratic Club who is chairing the committee, said the group aims to solicit concerns from residents and gauge their priorities in the transition period.
“Many of the Legislative priorities of the Governor and the Democratic majority are well known: the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, stricter gun laws and election reforms,” Bodkin said in a news release. “But Senator-Elect Kaplan wants to make sure that she starts her time in Albany with an understanding of all the issues facing residents of the Seventh District, including the issues that don’t get the headlines.”
Janelle Clausen, writing in The Island Now, focuses on the reasons for LEAPer Anna Kaplan’s 10,000 vote win over incumbent state Sen. Elaine Phillips: her ground game, and the GOP’s lack of willingness to move gun regulatory legislation:
Kaplan focused on bills like the Reproductive Health Act and Child Victims Act, which have not come to a vote in the state Senate under Republican leadership, as well as gun control legislation and Phillips’ purported support for charter schools.
“You can’t say that this is a balance and that you need one house to be Republican,” Kaplan said in a previous interview when asked about possible concerns over one-party control. “If you can’t get things done, you need to make a change.”
Kaplan, a town councilwoman, ran specifically on moving an Extreme Risk Protection Order law through the state Senate. With the body now under solidly Democratic control, she will get that opportunity. LEAP Foward will continue to update this space with news on her efforts and those of all elected candidates.
Control of the New York state Senate will be determined on November 6, and with it, the fate of legislation stymied by the GOP’s one-vote majority in the body. (Democrats technically have more seats, but due to a number of Democrats caucusing and/or voting with the GOP, important gun regulations have been defeated. It’s a long story that hopefully I’ll be able to stop telling in a few weeks.
One of the most competitive races is in the North Hempstead area, where incumbent Republican Elaine Phillips held her seat by just 2 points in 2016, and faces Councilwoman Anna Kaplan. As The Island Now points out, a lot hinges on the race, especially when it comes to firearms, where Phillips’ vote helped kill some important stuff:
Phillips’ position on guns has been inconsistent. Phillips initially voted against four amendments that would have banned bump stocks, provided more thorough background checks, authorized judges to remove guns from those found to be danger to themselves or others, and created a state Firearm Violence Research Institute.
After a backlash, Phillips reversed her opposition and stated she now supports the measures.
Kaplan is unequivocal about strengthening New York’s gun control laws. She supports the aforementioned gun control legislation and has spoken out against the NRA event.
Once again, a Republican in a tough re-election race is paying lip service to improving regulations while their actions tell a different story. It’s time to start electing Democrats who actually want to do something rather than keeping incumbents who’ve done nothing.
The subject of responsibility for gun violence came up again with a question from the audience asking what type of gun control legislation each candidate would support.
Gershon said he supports the Second Amendment. “I don’t want to take guns away from honest, hardworking citizens,” he said. But he advocates “universal background checks without loopholes,” he said, including sales at gun shows, and “penalizing people who sell to people that don’t pass background checks.” Congress should renew the assault weapon ban that expired more than a decade ago, Gershon said.
“We should not have concealed-carry reciprocity,” Gershon said, referring to a law that Zeldin cosponsored and voted to pass, which would allow anyone able to carry a concealed weapon in their home state to carry a concealed weapon in any other state. It easily passed the House along party lines in December but has not progressed in the Senate.
“That law makes no sense,” Gershon said. “It will make us all less safe.”
Kaplan also accused Phillips of being against reasonable gun legislation like the “red flag” protection bill, which would allow parents, teachers and police to pursue a court order to take guns from people considered dangerous.
She said [Elaine] Phillips voted against banning bump stocks, expanding background checks, removing guns from domestic abusers, and the red flag bill two weeks after a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 died.
“I absolutely support [the red flag legislation] and this will be one of the first bills that I push,” Kaplan said. “It has not been passed because the Republican Senate has stopped it from happening.”
District 7 is a battleground district for control of the New York state Senate. With all 63 seats up for election in two weeks, Democrats are looking to take real control of a body in which an independent caucus and a GOP-aligned Democrat have denied them legislative power. Control of the Senate would also likely give Democrats trifecta control of all three branches of state government.
Phillips received less than 55% of the vote in 2016, and Hillary Clinton won the district, making it a golden opportunity for a Democratic pickup for a strong candidate like Kaplan.
LEAPer Karen Smythe and her opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Sue Serino sat for a debate with the Poughkeepsie Journal. As is more and more the case this year, gun laws was a big topic of discussion:
Serino supported the Senate's package of school safety-related bills.
But she voted against the domestic violence-related gun bill, saying she supported the intent of the legislation, but not the way in which it was introduced.
"We do know that when there's a firearm present in a domestic violence situation, the risk to the victim goes up dramatically," Smythe said. "I would rather err on the side of protecting the victim, then perhaps inconveniencing the abuser."