STATE SENATE CANDIDATE JIM GAUGHRIN TALKS EDUCATION, CORRUPTION, TAXES, AND ENVIRONMENT AT LOCAL MEET AND GREET
September 29, 2016 -- “My opponent doesn’t think there’s a problem, but I do,” said Jim Gaughran, the Democratic Party’s nominee for the New York’s 5th Senate district seat, describing Albany at a “meet and greet” hosted by Glen Head resident Veronica Rock at her home on Friday, September 23.
Mr. Gaughran, a Northport attorney and Chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority who last held elective office during the early 1990’s when he served as Suffolk County Legislator after four years on the Huntington Town Board, is challenging 22-year incumbent Republican Carl Marcellino (Oyster Bay) in this November’s election to represent the Senate district that encompasses the North Shore of Long Island from Hempstead Harbor to Northport.
Ms. Rock said she had never before hosted such an event for a candidate, but was spurred to become more politically active as a result of the state’s implementation of education reforms that push the Common Core learning standards and base teacher evaluations on student performance on high stakes tests.
In his remarks, Mr. Gaughran outlined a platform that in addition to calling for the reversal of those reforms also addressed government corruption, environmental issues, and the disparity between what Long Islanders contribute in taxes and what they get back from the state in services.
“Education is a major area of concern,” he said. “Implementation of the Common Core and the testing has created an absolute disaster.”
He explained that while it is important to have accountability, “good teachers have to spend so much time teaching to the test - kids are not getting history or science.”
One resident who attended said she too was concerned about education, but was also concerned about the pressure property taxes put on her pocketbook with well over half going to the school district.
Mr. Gaughran responded that he supported the 2% property tax cap, but that schools need other sources of revenue and would like to see the state increase its aid to school districts and to pay for the mandates it imposes on districts.
Senator Marcellino, he said, supported legislation that took $50 million in aid from Long Island and put it towards charter schools in the city.
As for the environment, he touted his record as a Suffolk County legislator co-sponsoring the Water Protection Act that protects the Central Pine Barrens as well as several critical watershed areas and as a State Senator would work to protect Long Island Sound through efforts to limit nitrate run-off.
One resident asked Mr. Gaughran to offer his thoughts on the Garvies Point Re-development project. “What concerns me,” he replied, “is that there is a tremendous loss of government income that could potentially cost the community.” He said that with a project such as this environmental and economic needs must be balanced, and that there needs to be strong broad-based community support. “Residents and other stakeholders need to be brought together.”
Central to Mr. Gaughran's platform, is to reform how Albany operates. He criticized the “three men in a room” dynamic in which the Assembly Speaker, Senate Majority Leader, and the Governor negotiate the budget and its attached bills, and argued for reforming the process to empower individual legislators.
Citing the Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver corruption scandals, he said that legislators should be banned from earning outside income and be required to disclose any personal business dealings that present a conflict of interest on bills they consider. As a member of the Huntington Town Board during the late 1980s, Mr. Gaurghan wrote similar legislation at the local level that required local officials to disclose all sources of outside income and make known any possible conflicts of interest, one of the first such laws passed in New York State.
Additionally, he said there needs to be greater transparency regarding campaign contributions and that this could be accomplished by eliminating a loophole that allows big donors to hide themselves behind anonymous shell corporations.
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