11/06/12 5:00am
11/06/2012 5:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and Republican Challenger Randy Altschuler at a Riverhead debate in September.

First Congressional District

Tim Bishop (D-Southampton)

Five-term incumbent Tim Bishop, 62, worked at Southampton College for 29 years, starting as an admissions counselor and serving for many years as provost, the chief administrative post. He left the college when first elected to Congress in 2002, defeating incumbent Republican Felix Grucci.

Mr. Bishop says if re-elected his legislative priorities will include job creation and economic expansion, protecting the environment, working for seniors and the middle class, providing access to affordable health care and supporting veterans.

A twelfth-generation Southampton resident, Mr. Bishop received his bachelor’s degree from The College of the Holy Cross and his master’s from Long Island University.

He serves on the Committee on Education, the Workforce and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Congressional Arts Caucus.

Mr. Bishop voted for the Affordable Health Care for America Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, and his voting record reflects that he votes with the majority of House Democrats on almost every key issue.

Randy Altschuler (R-St. James)

Randy Altschuler, 41, is currently the executive chairman of CloudBlue, which recycles electronic equipment. Prior to that, he was the CEO of OfficeTiger, a company that provided office support services with employees around the world.

Mr. Altschuler ran for Mr. Bishop’s congressional seat in 2010, losing by 263 votes after an intense recount that proved to be the longest in the nation that year.

Mr. Altschuler attended New York City public schools, received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, studied abroad as a Fulbright Scholar and received his MBA from Harvard University.

If elected, Mr. Altschuler pledges to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, work for the Republican plan for Medicare and Social Security reform, reform teacher tenure requirements and support school voucher programs.

First New York Senatorial District

Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson)

Incumbent Ken LaValle, 73, has held the 1st District state Senate seat since 1977, having been elected in November 1976. He has been chairman of the Senate committee on higher education since 1979 and is chairman of the Senate Majority Conference. He was a teacher before entering politics. Since he’s been in office, he earned a law degree from Touro College and is now a practicing attorney as well.

Mr. LaValle said he continues to receive support from his constituents, which is why he has won his re-election bids by overwhelming margins.

He says he’s working to get approval for the commission that Riverhead Town has advocated as a way of fast-tracking projects at EPCAL and, among other things, has been instrumental in establishing the Stony Brook Business Incubator in Calverton; has secured grant money for the J. Kings food processing facility in Baiting Hollow; and has helped to create a synergy among the three East End hospitals.

Mr. LaValle also lauds the 2 percent government tax levy cap.

“We’ve also reduced taxes for every tax category, with the majority of it going to the middle-income taxpayers,” he said.

Republicans currently have a majority in the state Senate, while Democrats control the Assembly.

Mr. LaValle is the father of two grown children and lives in Port Jefferson with his wife, Penny.

Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack)

Challenger Bridget Fleming, 52, is a matrimonial attorney who has been a Southampton Town councilwoman since March 2010.

Prior to that, she has served as chief of a Manhattan district attorney’s office unit that prosecuted fraud in public assistance programs such as welfare, public housing and Medicaid. Before that, she said, she prosecuted sex crimes.

As a Southampton Town Board member, Ms. Fleming says she’s helped to eliminate a budget deficit, thereby restoring the town’s credit rating; focused on proper staffing and controls in the town finance department; and spearheaded economic initiatives such as the Farm Fresh Market in Flanders, which is run by teenagers and sells local produce, and the Youth Build Project in Riverside, which teaches young people about sustainable building methods while restoring blighted homes.

She claims Mr. LaValle has not been effective in bringing the East End its fair share of school aid and says the amount of money East End residents pay in state taxes is more than what they get back in state services.

“Money comes out of our district, goes up to the pot in Albany and then doesn’t come back with us getting our fair share,” she said a recent debate. “We need somebody who is fighting for our local needs.”

A resident of Noyac since 2001, Ms. Fleming lives with her husband, Robert Agoglia, a general contractor, and their 9-year old son, Jai.

Riverhead Town Tax Receiver

This is a special election to fill the last three years of longtime Riverhead tax receiver Maryanne Heilbrunn’s term. She stepped down at the end of June.

Laurie Zaneski (R-Aquebogue)

This is incumbent tax receiver Laurie Zaneski’s first political race. The town’s deputy tax receiver since August 2003, Ms. Zaneski, of Aquebogue, was appointed tax receiver in September and has been running that office since Ms. Heilbrunn stepped down on June 30, she says.

Ms. Zaneski, 46, was nominated by the Riverhead Republican Committee but, because of a missed Board of Elections deadline, she is forced to run for tax receiver on an independent line, which the committee set up as Riverhead Taxpayers First.

“I’ve been on the job, doing the job,” Ms. Zaneski said. “I have the confidence of the public already; a lot of them already know me. The bottom line is the experience.”

Before working for the town, Ms. Zaneski was secretary to the director of operations at Cablevision in Riverhead. Before that, she worked for Central Suffolk Hospital (now Peconic Bay Medical Center).

She spoke in a candidate interview about “kitchen table economics.”

“People want to know their money is safe and we invest it properly to help the town,” she said.

Ms. Zaneski has been involved in many parent-teacher groups and booster clubs in the Riverhead School District and has three children in town schools. Her oldest daughter, Jocelyn, a high school senior, was a member of the Long Island champion girls’ basketball team this past school year.

Her husband, Kevin, is a 25-year member of the Riverhead Volunteer Fire Department and has worked as a New York City firefighter for the past 16 years.

Robert Gottschalk (D-Wading River)

Former town assessor Robert Gottschalk of Wading River was chosen by the town Democratic Committee in August to run in the special election for town tax receiver.

But like the Republicans, the Democrats missed a Board of Elections filing date so Mr. Gottschalk has had to run on an independent line, called Riverhead Taxpayers United.

Mr. Gottschalk, 56, was appointed to a one-year term as town assessor in 1998 after Leroy Barnes resigned, but lost the following election to Paul Leszcynski. He also ran unsuccessfully for assessor in 2007.

“I’m running for receiver of taxes this year because I feel that there’s a need to have a professional in the job,” he said in a candidate interview. “I have been your state-certified assessor in the past, I have an accounting background, I have been the fund administrator for the pension and welfare funds of several large unions and I have also have been active tax accountant for the last 35 years.

“It’s time that we put some people into the office that can do the job while they’re there,” he said.

Mr. Gottschalk has lived in Wading River for over 30 years and has a background in computers, accounting and real estate. He’s also worked for many years as a business representative and fund administrator for a projectionists’ union.

He’s a former president of the Polish Town Civic Association and a member of the Wading River Civic Association.

He served as chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee in 1994 and 1995.

Riverhead Town Justice

Allen Smith (R-Jamesport)

Incumbent Allen Smith, 69, of Jamesport, is running for another four-year term.

And again, he is running unopposed.

Judge Smith was first elected in 2000. His term doesn’t conform to regular town election years because he was originally elected to fill a term left open with the death of Henry Saxtein, and town justices in New York State must be elected to full four-year terms.

“I enjoy the job thoroughly,” Judge Smith said of his part-time role. “It’s intellectually stimulating.”

Before becoming a judge, Mr. Smith served as Riverhead Town supervisor, town attorney, a member of the Riverhead school board, a Suffolk County deputy attorney and a county personnel officer.

He also has a private law practice and has been a member of the Riverhead Fire Department since 1978.

In 2010, Judge Smith was named Judge of the Year by the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association, the first time that honor ever went to a town justice.

Six years ago, he was also instrumental in establishing the East End Regional Intervention Court, commonly called “drug court,” with Southampton Town Justice Deborah Kooperstein.

“Our Riverhead committee believes that Judge Smith has proven himself to be an extraordinary jurist,” said Riverhead Republican Committee leader John Galla. “Fair, firm. These are the hallmarks of Judge Smith.”

The Democrats also did not challenge Judge Smith in his prior two elections.

10/24/12 5:13pm
10/24/2012 5:13 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Candidates for federal, state and local races , including State Senator Kenneth LaValle (standing), had the chance to introduce themselves to voters during the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday.

Candidates running for federal, state and local offices answered Southold residents’ questions Wednesday afternoon during the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s “meet the candidates” luncheon at the Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue.

Jeff Strong, president of Strong’s Marine in Mattituck, moderated the two-hour event where nearly 20 people gathered to listen to each candidate’s platform.

State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) left after making an opening statement because he had another event to attend to this afternoon on Shelter Island. His Democratic challenger, Bridget Fleming of Noyac, was absent.

Below is an excerpt of answers to a question regarding the economy.

Question to congressional and state candidates: Do you see the local economy getting better or worse and what are your plans to help improve it?

Congressional candidates’ answers:

Incumbent Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton): The local economy is struggling from what has been the deepest recession in our nation’s history other than the Great Depression. I think there are signs that we are recovering, but we have a long, long way to go. One of things I’m working on is trying to bring the federal government back to the table in terms of investing in local wastewater infrastructure. The second thing is dealing with environment issues. I think the environment is our economy and the economy is our environment.

Challenger Randy Altshuler (R-St. James): When you speak to people locally, there’s a lot of uncertainty in the air. It’s scaring the daylights out of everybody. You see it from unemployment rates going up over the past decade to people becoming underwater with their mortgages. Some local businesses are seeing a little bit of a pick-up, but a lot of them are saying it’s still doing pretty poorly. I think we need change and the only way I think that will happen is if we have more business people in office.

State Assembly candidates’ answers:

Incumbent Dan Losquadro (R-Shoreham): I don’t think the economy is doing very well at all. I think, in large part, that’s because of the burden that is placed upon businesses and residential taxes that drive up the overall cost of living. New York State spent $20 billion on Medicaid expenditures last year. We need to control spending in areas where people may not think relate to education funding. But if we save a billion dollars in Medicaid expenditures, that’s a billion dollars we can put back into education funding.

Challenger Nicholas Deegan (D-Mattituck): I think the local economy is starting on an upspring. The bigger thing out here is transportation. If we’re going to be able to sustain the agritourism and wine industries, then I think we have to deal with transportation very quickly so that by next summer we have a plan going into place. The roads can only handle so much. We need to get some of the traffic off the road.

Check back on Election Day for full coverage.

jennifer@timesreview.com

09/13/12 9:45pm
09/13/2012 9:45 PM

TIM GANNON FILE PHOTO | Bridget Fleming (right) will oppose Senator Ken LaValle in a November election.

Southamptown Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming won in a landslide over Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point in a Democratic primary to face Senator Ken LaValle in November, unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections indicate.

Ms. Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor received 79 percent of the votes  Thursday with 2,031 cast in her favor to Ms. Maertz’s 531.

Ms. Fleming was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs. She was elected to fill a vacant seat on the Southampton Town Council in 2010, and won a full four-year term last year.

Ms. Maertz, 36, is an attorney from Rocky Point, and lost to 36-year incumbent Mr. LaValle two years ago when she stepped in after candidate Regina Calcaterra was taken off the ballot due to a residency issue.

During a debate last month, both Ms. Maertz and Ms. Fleming criticized Mr. LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) as a “part of the culture in Albany” that has not sought more tax allocations for the East End from around the state.

Both candidates said they support same-sex marriage and argued that changes needed to be made to the 2 percent tax levy cap passed by the state last year.

They differed on the important of campaign financing, with Ms. Fleming saying she stood the best shot of beating Mr. LaValle due to her leftover campaign funds, while Ms. Maertz said voters should choose based on a candidate’s positions, not the size of their warchest.

08/31/12 8:00am
08/31/2012 8:00 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district.  He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving,  and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

tgannon@timesreview.com