The Putnam Examiner

40th Senate Democratic Primary Preview

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By David Propper and Martin Wilbur 

Falk Ready to Fight for Progressive Values at State Level

For the past several years, Andrew Falk believes he has continued to fight for middle class and working class folks that don’t have a political voice in the state government process.

Describing himself as a liberal and progressive Democrat, Falk said he has the best shot to unseat Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy in the general election.

He hopes Democrats recognize that in next week’s primary.

“The name recognition and my proven performance in the Republican part of the 40th Senate District makes me the only candidate with a possible path to victory,” Falk said.

He said he’s been on the frontline fighting for a minimum wage increase, a woman’s right to choose, better public education and fair and equal pay for female employees. Falk said voters know what his values are, instead of opponent Alison Boak who has recently spoken up about a litany of issues.

Prior to this campaign, Falk has run three times in the last four years. In 2012 and 2014, he lost to Republican Assemblyman Steve Katz in a GOP safe district. Last year he lost narrowly to Republican Rich Williams in the Patterson supervisor race.

In improving life for the middle class, Falk said when state government has a good idea, they should pay for it instead of shifting the expense to municipalities and raising property taxes through unfunded mandates. He used the costs attached to the Common Core education standards as one example.

Speaking of Common Core, Falk said the standards should be dumped. He encouraged parents to bring in their refusal letters for the state tests during the first week of school.

He wants to return local control to school districts and said “nothing good comes out of the state Education Department and Board of Regents.” Current education commissioner MaryEllen Elia should be tossed from the job, Falk said, because of her ineffectiveness.

“Politicians should not be telling teachers how to teach,” he said.

Corruption has been a major issue in Albany, Falk acknowledged. He wants the limited liability company loophole closed and pensions stripped from any elected official convicted of a felony related to his or her abuse of office.

Falk also believes he’s led by example. His law office hasn’t taken any new clients this year because he doesn’t want someone to hire him just to have access to a possible state representative. If elected, he will close his law office and be a full- time lawmaker.

Furthermore, if a pay raise is pushed through by a state commission, Falk said he won’t accept the additional money. Falk doesn’t consider the minimum wage increase much of a victory because in Putnam it was only raised to $12.50 instead of $15 in Westchester and New York City. He said the current $12.50 standard isn’t a livable wage.

In order to offset the extra costs for small businesses, Falk believes a tax credit is appropriate.

Falk said he supports an assault rifle ban and gun buyers should be subjected to a rigorous background check. He stressed he believes in the Second Amendment, but wants everyone to remain safe from gun violence.

“Those two rights should not be in conflict with each other,” he said, noting legal gun owners should be part of the conversation.

When it comes to which Democrat should face Murphy in November, Falk said he’s been in the trenches fighting for the issues he believes in and wants to do so at the state level.

“If you believe in what I’ve been talking about then I need your support one more time,” Falk said. “I’d say choose the person who has been fighting for our values and our issues, not the person who comes late to the party and says, ‘I’ll fight, too.’”

Boak Looks to Put Integrity Back into State Government

Over the past decade Alison Boak has watched some of the state’s legislative leaders run afoul of the law and resign in disgrace, but Albany’s culture remains largely unchanged.

Now she’s prepared to do something about that, running for the 40th state Senate District seat.

“You have a greater chance of being a state legislator and ending up in jail than beating an incumbent right now,” Boak said. “There’s something wrong with that.”

In order for the former Pound Ridge councilwoman, who was narrowly defeated last fall for re-election, to get the chance to defeat Republican incumbent Terrence Murphy in November, she must first win next Tuesday’s primary against Patterson resident Andrew Falk. The district includes Mount Pleasant, New Castle and Mount Kisco along with much of northern Westchester and Putnam and a portion of southern Dutchess County.

Boak, 46, the co-founder and executive director of the International Organization for Adolescents, which works to eliminate human trafficking, and who teaches at the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at City College, would head up to the state capitol to team up with reform-minded colleagues to press for ethics reform and greater transparency. A back of the Clear Conscience Pledge presented by various good government groups that vows to limit legislators’ outside income, she would support legislation to meet that goal.

In order for that to happen, Boak said the legislature should have full-time representatives, and she would oppose any lawmaker pay hikes until reforms are enacted.

“I think it all starts with sending people to Albany with a different mindset, that are going to limit their outside income, who are going to make the legislature their full-time endeavor and to make their commitment to the people,” Boak said.

She also wants more transparency from lawmakers who bring back funds to their districts for projects by outlining where that money comes from in the state budget.

Boak initially became involved in Pound Ridge municipal government when local officials failed to deliver adequate answers following revelations of well water contamination caused by a golf course. As a strong protector of the environment, she backs Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to have 40 percent of the state’s power derived from renewable energy by 2030.

“Because I’m in favor of that, I’m not really in favor of expanding pipelines, I’m not in favor of expanding natural gas infrastructure,” said Boak, a mother of four daughters. “I’m in favor of using our technology and innovation to help us keep building these clean, renewable energy sources.”

She would also like the state to play a role in convincing regulatory officials to eventually close the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant. Without a viable evacuation plan, Boak calls it “a huge accident waiting to happen.”

Boak acknowledged that the facility won’t be closed overnight because it would decimate the local economy, but there should be a plan to retrain the more than 1,000 Entergy employees for renewable energy jobs.

She called for the state to take over the counties’ financial responsibility for Medicaid, which would free up vital resources for services. Boak supports the state tax incentives for small businesses and downtown main streets while searching for government efficiencies.

Boak said she is a fierce advocate for public education and for local districts to determine what’s best for their students. She said the state must rethink the excessive testing that have many strong students, including her own children, stressed out.

Boak said she supports the 2 percent tax cap but would eliminate the 60 percent approval for districts who exceed that threshold.

“We don’t want our schools crumbling because we can’t make major improvements to them because it will put us over the 2 percent,” she said.

Her dissatisfaction with the status quo, particularly Murphy, motivated her to take her shot at the seat.

“I’m one of these kinds of people that when I complain about stuff, I don’t complain about it, I step up and try to do something about it,” Boak said. “So that’s what I’m doing here. I’m not happy with the lack of integrity. I’m not happy with not following the same rules, not paying taxes like the rest of us. I don’t think that’s right, so I’m stepping up to offer people a different choice.”

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