Democrats tap assembly opponent for Anthony Palumbo

Tom Schiliro, Democratic candidate for assembly. (Courtesy photo)
Tom Schiliro, Democratic candidate for assembly. (Courtesy photo)

Democrats have chosen a candidate to run against first-term Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo this fall, picking Manorville resident and Suffolk County Park Police sergeant Tom Schiliro.

Mr. Schiliro was one of several people to vie for the Democratic nod last year in the race for an open seat vacated by former assemblyman Dan Losquadro, who had won the race to become Brookhaven Town’s highway superintendent. The party opted to run John McManmon, an Aquebogue resident who was eventually defeated by Mr. Palumbo.

Mr. Schiliro, 62, previously owned Saddle Rock Horse Farm in Middle Island, he said, eventually selling his land’s development rights to the county. He said he’s been campaigning actively since January, and the campaign has already sent out fliers in part of the Assembly district, taking aim at 43-year-old Mr. Palumbo.

“Everybody’s going to tell you taxes are the most important issue,” he said. “And certainly property taxes are extremely, extremely important. But in this Assembly district — and the North Fork particularly — the school districts are not getting their fair share of state funding.”

Marge Acevdeo, chair of the Riverhead Town Democratic Committe, said on Thursday that Mr. Schiliro could be more valuable to district residents as a member of the Democratic majority in the assembly.

“I think it’s very difficult for a Republican to survive in the New York State assembly,” she said.

With teaching experience in criminal justice at Suffolk County Community College, SUNY Farmingdale and on the high school level, Mr. Schiliro also has past experience in the political sphere. He served as an aide to former Long Island Assemblyman Angelo Orazio in the 1980s.

Asked about his opponent, Mr. Schiliro pointed to Mr. Palumbo’s vote against the Women’s Equality Act as one instance where he would have voted differently.

“I can’t imagine any elected official voting against it,” he said.

The bill passed the Assembly by a vote of 88-43 and has yet to be voted on in the state Senate. It passed the Assembly last year as well, and was never voted on in the Senate.

But Mr. Palumbo defended his vote on Thursday morning, noting that he agreed with the first nine points of a 10-point agenda, which call for equal pay, pregnancy discrimination, and domestic violence protection, among other issues. But not the tenth, which pertained to abortion rights.

Advocates of the bill have said it would bring New York’s laws in line with Roe v. Wade. But Mr. Palumbo said that the way state laws are written, some loopholes could spell danger.

One permits abortions within the final 24 weeks of pregnancy “to protect a woman’s life or health as determined by a licensed physician.” However the word “health” allows too much leeway, he said.

“Basically, what ‘health’ could mean, is someone can say ‘I just lost my job. I know I’m due next week, but my psychiatrist says I am really suffering because of depression.’ That’s the most offensive part.”

In addition, he added that a dentist would be able to perform an abortion under the proposed regulations.

“That’s probably not very safe or healthy for women,” he said.

Mr. Palumbo confirmed he intends to run for re-election himself this fall. Election Day is Nov. 11.

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