11/03/10 2:33pm
11/03/2010 2:33 PM

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO Election night featured a lot of waiting around, and still nobody knows the end result in two key local races.

Local residents who stayed up all night Tuesday to find out who will be their next representative in Congress are still waiting for the final word.
The tight race between Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler has still not been called, and Mr. Bishop said he’d wait until the absentee ballots were counted to claim victory.
The incumbent Southampton Democrat was leading the St. James businessman by fewer than 3,500 votes in New York’s 1st District race, according to unofficial results from the Suffolk County Board of Elections, but they did not include a reported 9,500 absentee ballots.
Mr. Bishop called it the most heated election of his political career “by far.”
“My first campaign was when I went to unseat an incumbent and to win that by a narrow margin is one thing,” Mr. Bishop said of his two-point win over Felix Grucci in 2002. “But to be an incumbent and hang on by this kind of margin shows you how tightly contested the race was.”
It was so tightly contested, the Altschuler camp was still holding out hope Wednesday that things would break their way.
“The 1st Congressional District race is too close to call,” said campaign  spokesman Rob Ryan in a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon. “Our election lawyer is currently collecting needed information at the Suffolk County Board of Elections. Thousands of absentee ballots are in play and that number is sure to increase over the next few days. We plan to proceed in a judicious fashion until every vote has been actually counted.”
But by late Wednesday afternoon, the Bishop campaign was highly skeptical that absentee ballots could sway the outcome of the race.
“The only people who think this race is ‘too close to call’ are on Randy Altschuler’s payroll,” said Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider. “Tim Bishop is leading by a solid margin, which will only grow as we count absentee ballots. For the record, the AP has called this race for Tim Bishop and the State Republican party asked for ballots to be impounded in a district upstate, but not in the 1st Congressional District.”
If the results hold up, Mr. Bishop would be the first East End congressman elected to five terms in 40 years — Democrat Otis Pike of Riverhead served 18 years in the House before retiring in 1978.
But Mr. Bishop would be serving in the minority this time around. The GOP was expected to have won at least 60 seats in the House, once all the votes are finalized. It needed 39 to take control.
Mr. Altschuler’s defeat at the hands of Mr. Bishop would be one of the few disappointments suffered by Republicans Tuesday.
And it’s not for a lack of trying. Mr. Bishop’s seat, in a district where registered Republicans outnumber any other party’s registration number, was a major focal point for GOP and Conservative leaders for the past two years.
Mr. Altschuler, who spent $3 million of his own money on the long campaign, tried to capitalize on anti-Democratic sentiment nationwide, calling Mr. Bishop a “rubber stamp” for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership — which took a major hit across the country Tuesday.
Knowing what happened elsewhere around the country, Mr. Bishop was somewhat somber following his apparent victory Tuesday.
“It’s hard to be elated when I know many of my fellow public servants have had a tough night,” he said. “What we need to do is dig in and fight back.”

Other races
The local race for Assembly is also still too close to call, with Republican challenger Dan Losquadro leading incumbent Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) by just 40 votes. Mr. Losquadro believed he would win the race, despite the close results.
“We’re confident that I will win this because we were aggressive with absentee ballots,” he said Tuesday night.
Mr. Alessi told his supporters it was still way too close to call.
“The election isn’t over,” he said. “It’s just beginning.”
Longtime Senator Ken LaValle was the only local candidate able to claim a certain win Tuesday night. He gave his victory speech in his landslide 30-point trouncing of Democratic challenger Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point three hours before the final votes were even tallied.
“It always feels great to win,” Mr. LaValle said, “but it’s all about getting to the number 32. Winning the majority is critically important to my district, Long Island and the state.”
That balance of power in the Senate was also too close to call Wednesday with Democrats claiming they had held on to their majority early Wednesday morning, but several newspapers were calling close races in favor of the GOP. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Senate could wind up with a 31-31 split. 
Long Island Senators Brian Foley (D-Blue Point) and Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington) — who both voted in favor of the controversial MTA payroll tax — appeared to have lost their seats Tuesday, but several other races throughout the state were too close to call.

Samantha Brix and Jennifer Gustavson contributed reporting to this story.
grant@timesreview.com

11/02/10 7:57pm
11/02/2010 7:57 PM


Tim Bishop


A look at the local candidates in today’s election:

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

Tim Bishop

Tim Bishop, 60, (D-Southampton) is a lifelong Southampton resident who came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.

Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and protecting benefits for veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.

Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.

Like many  Democrats around the country, Mr. Bishop is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.


Randy Altschuler

Randy Altschuler, 39, (R,C- St. James), grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, a company that supplies back room office staff for major corporations.

He remains executive chairman of CloudBlue but has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.

Mr. Altschuler reportedly wanted to run for Congress in New Jersey, where he previously lived, but he never made the race.

He denies that he has outsourced jobs to other countries and said he instead has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.

Mr. Altschuler favors lowering taxes and reducing spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a fence on the U.S. southern border to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.

Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 but would also favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.

Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.

STATE SENATE

Kenneth P. LaValle

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, 71, has served in his current position since 1976. He is the Republican, Conservative and Independence party candidate.

Mr. LaValle is widely credited for his work as a former executive director of the Senate Education Committee and as chair of the state senate’s Higher Education Committee to improve education. Locally he is respected for his authorship of the 1993 Pine Barrens Preservation Act. He has also helped to establish numerous health care programs throughout the First Senate District.

Mr. LaValle was also one of the architects of the state’s STAR school property tax relief program.

Mr. LaValle, a graduate of Hempstead High School, received his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi University in 1961 and received a master’s degree in education from SUNY New Paltz in 1964. He received his juris doctorate from the Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center in 1987. He was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1993 and is a practicing attorney.

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

Jennifer Maertz

Jennifer Maertz, 34, currently serves as the vice chair of the Brookhaven Town Democratic Committee. Ms. Maertz, a litigating attorney for the GEICO insurance company, was chosen by Democrats to face off against Mr. LaValle after former Democratic and Working Families Party candidate Regina Calcaterra was forced to drop out of the race because she had registered to vote in Pennsylvania for part of the last five years.

Ms. Maertz had sought the Democratic nomination for Brookhaven Town Board last year but was not chosen by party leaders. She had been working for Ms. Calcaterra’s campaign when the former candidate’s run was ruled invalid.

Ms. Maertz, who lives in Rocky Point, is a graduate of St. John’s University and Touro Law School and received an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. She has also served on the Rocky Point Civic Association, North Shore Youth Council and Brookhaven Business and Community Alliance.

She supports state budget reform, property tax relief and better jobs for Long Island communities. She often distinguishes herself as supporting marriage equality. Mr. LaValle voted against gay marriage.

STATE ASSEMBLY

Marc Alessi

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.

An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.

Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.

He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.

Dan Losquadro

Dan Losquadro, 38, also of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.

Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.

He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.

Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.

11/02/10 3:12pm


TIM KELLY PHOTO With guidance from poll watcher Jane Minerva (right) Susan Jermusyk casts her ballot at the Cutchogue firehouse using the new electronic voting machine Tuesday afternoon


Are the new electronic voting machines a help or a hindrance?
That depends on who’s asking.
Reports from polling stations across the area indicated some problems with the new system getting its first major test on Election Day.
But in other spots, the machines lived up to the promise of simplifying and speeding up the voting process.
Gone are the days when voters walked into a booth, pulled a handle to close the curtains, flicked down tiny switches over candidates and then pulled back the lever to record the vote and open the curtains. Now voters take a ballot sheet to one of several privacy stations, mark their choices with a felt-tip pen and then feed the paper ballot into an electronic tabulator.
The problems reported throughout the day include misfeeds, which can result from a voter marking more than one candidate in the same race or someone misunderstanding the system.
In other cases poll watchers drew criticism for failing to properly describe the use of privacy sleeves, which keep a voter’s choices hidden, and for failing to indicate that privacy can be maintained by simply feeding in the ballot forms face-down.
A Mattituck woman voting at the high school said when she accidentally mismarked the ballot the machine spit it back out. The poll watcher flipped the ballot over in order to write on it, but that made it visible to the people on the line, said Joan Zanieski.
“I was very upset,” she said. “I don’t see why she had to look at it. I don’t think that’s right.”
At the Cutchogue firehouse, the voting went “exceptionally well,” said poll watcher Shannon Simon. By mid-afternoon over 300 people had voted but there was no line.
“It couldn’t be going better,” Ms. Simon said.

11/01/10 2:11pm
11/01/2010 2:11 PM

Assemblymen Marc Alessi and county Legislator Dan Losquadro

Marc Alessi

Assemblyman Marc Alessi, 34, of Shoreham, has been in office for five years, having won a special election to fill the remainder of Pat Acampora’s term in 2005, and then being re-elected twice. He is on the ballot on the Democrat, Independence and Working Families lines.

An attorney, Mr. Alessi says he has been instrumental in bringing reform to LIPA’s management and in passing legislation requiring state review of health insurance rate increases. He says he opposed the MTA payroll tax and was instrumental in getting train service restored and improved on the North Fork. Mr. Alessi now is working on legislation designed to keep high tech industry within New York State, where many patents are developed but not implemented.

Before his election to the Assembly, Mr. Alessi was the downstate director of intergovernmental affairs for the state comptroller, where he says he helped uncover corruption in school districts like Roslyn and William Floyd.

Mr. Alessi has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and completed his law degree at Touro Law School, where he studied health care law.

He and his wife, Gretchen have a son and daughter.

Dan LoSquadro

Dan Losquadro, 38, of Shoreham has represented the Suffolk County Legislature’s sixth district for the past seven years and has been the leader of the Legislature’s Republican minority since 2006. He is on the ballot on the Republican, Conservative, Green Party and School Tax Relief lines.

Before his election to the Legislature, Mr. Losquadro was a claims adjuster and fraud investigator for State Farm Insurance, investigating such incidents as arson, auto thefts and staged accidents.

He says he wants to run for Assembly because New York has “high taxes, a lack of good jobs and a terrible business environment” and he feels the Democratic majority in both the Assembly and the state Senate primarily represent the interests of New York City interests, and Long Island interests need to be better represented.

Mr. Losquadro grew up in Wading River, graduated from Shoreham-Wading River schools and graduated from SUNY/Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree in history. He and his wife, Lynn, a teacher, have a son and a daughter.

tgannon@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 27, 2010

11/01/10 12:17am

Randy Altschuler and Tim Bishop

It’s a battle between an eight-year Democratic incumbent and a newcomer carrying the Republican endorsement to represent eastern Long Island in Congress.

In a year when neither Democrats nor incumbents are expected to have a cakewalk, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) was targeted early on by national GOP leaders, who have poured money into the already well-endowed campaign of 39-year-old challenger Randy Altschuler. Mr. Bishop, like Democrats around the country, is charging that a lot of the money flowing to Republican and Tea Party candidates comes from foreign sources and is being contributed illegally.

The campaign has centered as much on the candidates’ backgrounds as on the issues.

Mr. Bishop, 60, a lifelong Southampton resident, came to Congress after serving in the administration of Southampton College for 29 years, many of them as provost. He started at the school as an admissions counselor and retired in 2002.

Mr. Altschuler grew up in New York City and moved to St. James in 2007. He is a former Fulbright Scholar who holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was co-founder and CEO of CloudBlue, an electronics recycling company, and OfficeTiger, an outsourcing company.

While he is executive chairman of CloudBlue, he has suspended any active involvement with the company during the campaign, his spokesman Rob Ryan said.

Mr. Bishop has charged him with outsourcing jobs to other countries and boasting about its benefits. Mr. Altschuler answers that he has created more than 700 jobs for Americans.

Mr. Altschuler claims Mr. Bishop has voted in lockstep with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and criticizes him for supporting the Democrats’ health care bill and taking stands on economic issues that Mr. Altschuler says will slow the recovery.

He favors lowering taxes and reduced spending. He pledges to lower corporate taxes; support a southern border fence to improve security; repeal the health care bill; issue tax credits to students attending non-public and charter schools; support domestic energy production, including oil drilling, coal mining and natural gas extraction; and invest in creating alternative energy sources.

Mr. Ryan said Mr. Altschuler not only favors retaining the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, but would favor cutting taxes further to give small businesses and individuals more money to invest.

“In tight economic conditions, you can’t raise taxes,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Altschuler is pro-life on the abortion issue.

Mr. Bishop says his priorities include focusing on job creation; protecting middle-class families and seniors; controlling spending; strengthening education; and continuing to provide benefits to veterans. He supports legislation to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by creating alternative energy jobs. He has pledged to work to secure the United States from terrorism; to safeguard the environment; and to work toward getting Long Island its fair share of federal aid.

Mr. Bishop favors elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax; and supports expanding the Child Tax Credit and raising the maximum income limit for the 10 percent tax bracket to increase the number of people eligible to pay the lowest percentage of their personal income in federal taxes. He has promoted legislation to protect Long Island Sound and Long Island shorelines and beaches. He is pro-choice on the abortion issue and opposed the war in Iraq.

jlane@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 26, 2010

11/01/10 12:07am

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to make an appearance at Stony Brook University Wednesday alongside Congressman Tim Bishop.

The appearance comes just six days before voters will decide whether or not to elect the incumbent Congressman  to a fifth term.

Mr. Bishop is one of a handful of Democrats whom national GOP leaders have targeted this mid-term election.

A press release from Congressman Bishop’s office said: “President Clinton and Congressman Bishop will speak about the challenges facing our country today and how important it is for young voters to make their voices heard at the polls on November 2.”

The speech is scheduled to take place in the school’s indoor sports complex. Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. and the rally is set for 2:20pm.

New York State Board of Elections records show there are nearly 1,500 actively registered Democrats currently residing on the Stony Brook campus. No other election district in Brookhaven has more than 1,000 enrolled Democrats.

The campus can make a dent on Election Day. In the last federal election, Stony Brook University had an 80 percent voter turnout, five percent higher than the rest of the town. And 77 percent of campus voters chose Democrat Barack Obama in that year’s presidential election.

grant@timesreview.com


This post was originally published Oct. 26, 2010

10/06/10 4:46pm
10/06/2010 4:46 PM

The first of many candidate forums featuring Congressman Tim Bishop and his Republican opponent Randy Altschuler to be held in the final weeks leading up to the the November 2 elections kicked off at Monday night’s meeting of the Eastern Long Island Executives at East Wind in Wading River.
Both men said they came from modest backgrounds. Mr. Bishop (D-Southampton), who has been in Congress for eight years, said his father worked 90-hour weeks for the phone company and his family lived paycheck to paycheck. He said he tried to cast votes based on how legislation will affect the kind of working family he grew up in.
Mr. Altschuler (R-St. James) said he was brought up by a single mother, his father having departed when he was eight. He said his mother had no job at the time, but managed to send him to college.
The two candidates gave separate speeches and did not interact; Mr. Bishop, who spoke first, left without hearing Mr. Altschuler’s speech.
One controversial piece of legislation that Mr. Bishop supported and which he thinks is misunderstood is the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
“A lot of people think it was a bailout of Wall Street,” he said. “But in the week that Lehman Brothers failed in September of 2008, there were 16 multi-million-dollar homes under construction in the Hamptons on which work stopped.”
Mr. Bishop said the owners of those houses probably were still all right, but the hundreds of carpenters and plumbers and other contractors who were working on the houses were suddenly put out of work.
“TARP wasn’t about bailing out Wall Street,” he said. “It was about bailing out Main Street.”
The ongoing restoration of the rail spur leading into Calverton Enterprise Park is another example of something that was funded with federal dollars but will help the local economy and get more trucks off the road.
Mr. Bishop said he thought the government needed to stimulate spending in order to get the economy back on track because people don’t spend money when they are out of work.
The federal Recovery Act was about priming the pump and creating jobs, he said.
Suffolk County received more stimulus funding than any other county in the state, and stimulus money saved the jobs of thousands of teachers, he said.
Mr. Bishop said he opposes having a Shinnecock Indian casino in the region because the amount of traffic it would generate would be inappropriate for the “East End.”
Mr. Altschuler said he’d been in business all his life. He co-founded a company called OfficeTiger, which provided business support services, and then sold it to RR Donnelley in 2006. After that, he co-founded CloudBlue, which recycles electronic equipment. He said he didn’t become interested in politics until after his son was born three years ago.
“I was very concerned about the direction this country was going,” he said. “I didn’t think the men and women in Congress represented us properly, partly because most of them have never worked in the private sector before.”
He said most members of Congress “have never met a payroll before and they fundamentally believe government is the solution to our problems, not the private sector. I believe that is a fundamental difference between me and Tim Bishop. I think the answer to our economic problems is boosting the private sector and helping small businesses, because only they can create more jobs. Government jobs don’t help the tax base.”
He said he believed several of the programs Mr. Bishop voted for hurt the economy, such as the health care bill, which Mr. Altschuler said would lead to private companies dropping their health care coverage for their employees.
Mr. Altschuler was asked to respond to charges that he outsourced jobs overseas while at OfficeTiger, a charge made by Mr. Bishop and by Republican opponents in the September primary.
“We did not outsource American jobs and move them overseas,” Mr. Altschuler said. “I’ve created over 700 jobs in the United States. We had an international business and we had customers and employees all around the world so we were a functioning company everywhere.”
But he said that high taxes and government regulations were responsible for driving companies overseas, and he questioned how many private sector jobs Mr. Bishop has created.
tgannon@timesreview.com