11/06/12 11:41pm
11/06/2012 11:41 PM

We’ll be live blogging Election Day results all night tonight. We’ll also have reporters with Congressman Tim Bishop and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler.

Follow along with the results, watch live streaming video of the speeches and to share your own election night thoughts and opinions.

We’ll also have reaction from Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Dan Losquadro and County Legislator Ed Romaine, who’s running in a special election for Brookhaven Town Supervisor.

Additionally, we’ll have reporters keeping tabs on town elections in both Riverhead and Southold.

Tonight’s blog will be sponsored by Blackwells at Great Rock in Wading River and Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor.

11/06/12 5:00am

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.

10/25/12 6:58am
10/25/2012 6:58 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop at a debate in Riverhead.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Tim Bishop at a debate in Riverhead.

For decades, the Grumman Aerospace facility at Calverton supported thousands of local jobs producing fighter planes for the Navy to defend the seas and skies and for NASA to explore space. To replace the jobs lost with the closure of Grumman, the federal government deeded the site to Riverhead Town for economic development as the Calverton Enterprise Zone, or EPCAL.

We should all hope that EPCAL, like Grumman, will be a jobs engine for Riverhead Town and all of eastern Long Island — with the private sector now driving development. Those of us who represent the area on the local, state and federal levels share the goal of making the government a helpful partner in responsible redevelopment at EPCAL.

To support that effort, I fought along with Senator Charles Schumer for funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build a rail spur to the Enterprise Zone, linking it to the national freight rail network. I have also worked with Mr. Schumer to push the Navy to ramp up its effort to clean up groundwater pollution that is an unfortunate legacy of Grumman.

Along with senators Schumer and Gillibrand, I was contacted Oct. 5 by Supervisor Sean Walter, who asked us to facilitate a dialogue with Governor Cuomo’s office regarding EPCAL.

The supervisor cited his frustration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s regulatory process regarding the Town Board’s effort to subdivide the property into appropriate units for public sale.

The senators and I have undertaken the effort to facilitate a dialogue and I have also pledged to work as a liaison with the federal Environmental Protection Agency to the extent that federal environmental regulations may be an issue at the site.

Given my record in support of EPCAL and my commitment to continue being helpful in the future, it was surprising to read an op-ed from my opponent naming me as an obstacle to redevelopment at EPCAL.

Simply put, it is another in the line of baseless and opportunistic attacks that define his campaign. It is also explicitly contradicted by Supervisor Walter, who told the News-Review last week that the senators and I “want to do what’s right by their constituents.”

By shoehorning EPCAL into a political pander, my opponent shows he does not understand the complex issues at the site, including environmental regulations on the books for sensitive animal habitat, not to mention the Town Board’s own evolving consensus about the best plan for EPCAL’s future, which has been chronicled at length over the years in this newspaper.

The people of Riverhead Town deserve representation on the federal level by someone who helps bring federal resources to the table to solve local problems and goes to bat for constituents when their plans run afoul of a bureaucracy acting at cross-purposes.

That has been my record regarding EPCAL, because promoting jobs and economic development in Riverhead Town and throughout eastern Long Island has always been and will always be a top priority for me as a member of Congress.

Tim Bishop, a Democrat, is a Southampton resident and the incumbent congressman representing the 1st Congressional District.

10/25/12 6:57am
Altschuler, EPCAL, Bishop, RIverhead Town

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Randy Altschuler at a debate in Riverhead.

Development at the Enterprise Park at Calverton is critical to the future of Long Island’s economy. The fact that this process has become so bogged down in red tape and political wrangling underscores what’s wrong with government today, and how it’s hurting job creation.

Make no mistake, without new economic development Long Island will continue to struggle with rising property taxes, foreclosures and young people leaving in search of jobs and a better life elsewhere. We must reverse that trend.

We can’t tax, spend or borrow our way out of this; we need to grow our way out of it with forward-thinking economic growth policies that make Long Island a destination for business again.

Every time I speak with Supervisor Sean Walter and the Riverhead Town Board members, or read what they say in the paper, their frustration with this process is evident and I share it.

They have worked tirelessly to complete the redevelopment at EPCAL, yet seem to run into obstacle after obstacle.

Enough is enough. If I am given the honor of representing Suffolk County in Congress this November, breaking this bureaucratic logjam and moving this project forward will be a priority.

Unfortunately, private sector job growth simply has not been a priority for Congressman Tim Bishop. He seems to believe government has all the answers; I don’t. This is a perfect example of where government should be helping to foster economic revitalization on Long Island, and instead they are stifling it.

I will take a different approach. Relying on my experience in the private sector and willingness to work across party lines to get things done, I will bring all sides together and seek to build consensus on a path forward at EPCAL.

The failures to date are a prime example of how government, even with the best of intentions, gets in the way of an economic recovery.

For instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo established Regional Economic Development Councils to promote and provide state grants for worthy projects. It was a good idea, but the irony is that the state, through the DEC and its over-aggressive regulatory policy, is hindering the implementation of the kind of economic development Gov. Cuomo rightfully promotes.

In my specific, 10-point jobs plan (LIJobsPlan.com), I have outlined several ways to bring more businesses and job opportunities to Long Island. We need to roll out the red carpet, not the red tape, for businesses that want to relocate or grow right here in the 1st Congressional District. We need to make Long Island a magnet for high-quality, good-paying jobs again. Our future depends on it.

We all realize that the EPCAL property could be home to industries from manufacturing to high-tech to recreational entrepreneurs. It could quite literally be the crown jewel of Long Island’s economic future — we simply cannot let this opportunity slip through our collective fingers.

Mr. Altschuler is the Republican challenger to incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Bishop. He is a businessman and St. James resident. This piece was originally published on Oct. 18 in the News-Review newspaper.

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

10/17/12 4:00pm
10/17/2012 4:00 PM

BARBARELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Farmer Monica Harbes (right) offers apple cider donuts to Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and United States Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to have with the hot apple cider made at her family’s farmstand on Sound Avenue in Mattituck Wednesday morning.

The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture visited the North Fork Wednesday morning to meet with farmers to discuss how the federal government can help with challenges facing the agricultural industry on Long Island.

Deputy secretary Kathleen Merrigan, named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010, joined Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) at Harbes Farm and Vineyard on Sound Avenue in Mattituck.

Ms. Merrigan listened to owner Ed Harbes discuss the biggest challenges he has been facing as a farm owner, among them are what he called out-dated town codes from when potatoes ruled the soil rather than grapes and agritourism.

Mr. Harbes said he and his wife Monica switched from a wholesale potato and cabbage business to a direct market farm produce business in 1989, when it was becoming increasingly difficult to make a profit, especially in Long Island’s high-cost climate.

“My dear wife Monica painted a sign that said farm-fresh produce and before the sign was dry, we were in business,” he said.

Since then, the farm has expanded into a tourism destination, especially in the fall when pumpkins, apple cider and hay bales attract customers from all over.

“[The town's] trying to catch up the best they can, but they’re trying to balance community issues with ordinances that are on the books for different things,” Mr. Harbes said of town code advancements in light of agritourism. “In the meantime, I think our local community is really trying to work with us.”

Ms. Merrigan asked if liability insurance has been an issue and Mr. Harbes said it’s certainly a “hot spot,” but necessary in order to offer agritainment, which he said has become the lifeblood of his business at the farm.

“Fortunately so far, so good, but as our dealings with the public increases so does our liability insurance,” he said. “We’re really very dependent on the public and to a much smaller degree, they’re depending upon us so we want to do everything within our power to have a safe and pleasant place for them to visit.”

Ms. Merrigan then asked about finding employees for such a big operation.

Mr. Harbes said finding stable, long-term employees, rather than relying on seasonal workers, is a bigger issue area farmers face.

The deputy secretary pointed out USDA programs that she said Long Island farmers could benefit from, among them the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative.

“I really hope your family can get on that compass map and see the things that we’re doing at USDA that you may not know about that might help your operation or your neighbors’ operation,” she said of the USDA’s KYF compass map website.

Mr. Harbes said the concept behind the initiative has helped with their farm market and that people seem more and more likely to seek out locally grown produce.

Ms. Merrigan also encouraged local farmers to work on getting their products into schools, if not fresh, than through flash-freezing, preserving and collating their products with other farmers to get the quantity that schools often require.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

10/16/12 12:00pm
10/16/2012 12:00 PM
Tim Bishop, Randy Altschuler, Bridgehampton School

DANA SHAW of THE SOUTHAMPTON PRESS | Congressman Tim Bishop and challenger Randy Altschuler debate at the Bridgehampton School on Monday night.

The debate between Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler in Bridgehampton on Monday turned inward when the candidates argued over campaign tactics in a race marked by a flood of attack ads.

The two men covered well-trodden ground in what was their fourth debate on the East End, once again laying out their differing visions for economic recovery.

But to a greater extent than in past debates, they expressed frustration over the tone of the race itself.

The candidates even attacked each other’s attacks during an extended exchange, with Mr. Altschuler calling the congressman’s tactics “filthy” and Mr. Bishop calling his opponent’s ads “unseemly.”

“This has been an ugly, bruising campaign,” Mr. Bishop said. “I think Mr. Altschuler regrets that. I regret that. I think even within the
context of an ugly, bruising campaign, I think family should be off-limits.”

Mr. Bishop, a Democrat running for his sixth term, was referring to what he claimed were recent attacks by Mr. Altschuler’s campaign claiming Mr. Bishop’s wife, Kathy, a preschool director, and 33-year-old daughter, Molly, his political fundraiser, have benefited from his political and professional connections.

Mr. Bishop has rejected those charges in the past.

Mr. Altschuler said he tried to run a positive campaign, filming an ad with his family and releasing a jobs plan, but was quickly drawn into a brawl that he claims Mr. Bishop started.

“I would say 98 percent of his money or more is spent saying negative things about me, and not at one point talking about the things he’s done in the last 10 years in Congress,” Mr. Altschuler said.

Mr. Bishop called that account “disingenuous.”

“Before we had run a single ad, before we had said anything at all, July 28, Mr. Altschuler has a press conference in front of my office in
Patchogue to attack my daughter and my wife,” he said. “So, please, please don’t be the choir boy when it comes to negative campaigning.”

Mr. Altschuler also called that characterization “totally disingenuous.”

The exchange built off a similar one in Hamptons Bays last month, when a high school senior asked the candidates why they were running negative ads rather than touting their own accomplishments.

The two men also discussed the role of super political action committees, or “super PACs” in the campaign. Super PACs are groups that can make unlimited amounts of political spending independent of campaigns.

Both regretted the phenomenon, largely the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision two years ago on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. But both have benefited from super PAC money in this year’s election.

Mr. Altschuler said it’s “an unfortunate situation we’re in,” and Mr. Bishop said super PACs “fundamentally threaten our democracy.”

The candidates spoke at length on a host of other issues, including unemployment and the economy, taxes and bipartisanship.

The debate, which focused on jobs and the economy for the first half, kicked off with a question posed to both on whether cutting taxes creates jobs. Mr. Altschuler said he believes it does, while Mr. Bishop said there’s no evidence that proves cutting taxes alone will create jobs.

They rehashed some of the same issues from prior debates, once again addressing the attacks on outsourcing and ethics, while
defending themselves.

Mr. Altschuler has been heavily criticized by the Bishop campaign for being an outsourcing pioneer. Mr. Bishop has had his ethics challenged on whether his campaign solicited donations for helping a constituent get necessary permits for a fireworks show this summer.

The two also explained their positions on abortion.

The next presidential administration could appoint at least two Supreme Court justices, which could determine future decisions on issues like abortion. Mr. Altschuler said he is pro-life, with the exceptions of rape, incest and the health of the mother. Mr. Bishop said he is
pro-choice, and that he shares former President Bill Clinton’s views that abortions should be “safe, legal and rare.”

The debate was the second in a series of debates sponsored by The Press News Group, which covers the South Fork, and Times/Review News Group of the North Fork.

It will conclude on Thursday, Oct. 25, when the newspaper groups will cosponsor another debate with the League of Women Voters of the
Hamptons.

That debate will take place at the Westhampton Beach High School on Lilac Road in Westhampton Beach at 7 p.m.

Ms. Abbas is a reporter for the Press News Group of Southampton.

rabbas@pressnewsgroup.com

10/15/12 7:45pm
10/15/2012 7:45 PM

Times/Review Newsgroup teamed up with The Press News Group of Southampton to co-sponsor a 90-minute debate between Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) and Republican challenger Randy Altschuler of St. James at Bridgehampton High School tonight.

The first half of the debate focused on jobs and the economy. Press executive editor Joe Shaw served as moderator for the debate, which also included questions submitted by audience members.

CD1, Tim Bishop, Randy Altschuler, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop (left) and Republican Challenger Randy Altschuler on the stage at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall last month.