Chris Burdick is running for the 93rd Assembly District because it is an opportunity that comes around once in a generation.
“You have a Democratic governor, a democratic state senate and assembly. The old boy’s network has been swept away,” Burdick said.
Burdick, 69, who is opposed by Republican John Nuculovic, said the current state government is more inclusive and he wants to take his seven-year experience as Bedford supervisor and apply it on a statewide level.
“My experience and accomplishments, among others, include bringing affordable housing and sewers to the town,” he said. “Addressing environmental issues have been very helpful to the district.”
Burdick’s tenure as supervisor was preceded by four years on the Town Board. He ran and has won for supervisor three times, and was unopposed the last two election cycles.
He holds a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a juris doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. He and his wife Illyria have been married for 34 years. They have three adult children and a baby granddaughter.
The sprawling state budget deficit concerns Burdick who supports exempting health care and education from funding cuts.
“The first found of pandemic relief from the feds did bring in billions to aid health care and education, but we will need another relief package,” he said. “Until we see the (state) budget bill, it’s hard to identify those areas that shouldn’t be spared. We need to see what the facts are.”
COVID-19 triggered New York’s shutdown in order to stop the spread of the virus, a move Burdick supported because since June New York has been perhaps the most successful state at keeping transmission rates low.
“There were some draconian measures taken that had to be imposed but it saved thousands of lives,” Burdick said. “Going forward, we have to re-examine and reform our protocols when populations are compromised.”
Reopening schools in the fall when COVID-19 numbers were low was impressive, but Burdick warned that vigilance must be exercised.
“We have to constantly look at the data about how outbreaks can occur and what we can do to avoid a reoccurrence,” he said.
Burdick supports the NY Health Act despite serious challenges because “health care is a human right in my mind.”
“The initial years will be expensive but over the long term it will save health care dollars and lives,” Burdick said. “We need to address those people concerned that they might lose their plans.”
If the current fiscal crisis continues to confront the state, Burdick said the NY Health Act may be difficult to implement.
As Bedford supervisor, Burdick has long supported and adhered to the property tax cap. If elected to the Assembly, Burdick said he would support state Sen. Shelley Mayer’s bill, the Shared Help Assessment to Rebuild Education Act, that would place a temporary income tax increase on those earning more than $5 million annually.
Burdick said he would support the legalization of recreational marijuana use if the bill includes steps to ensure safe use.
“There is still research to be done on the impacts of marijuana, like how it can impair driving,” he said. “Revenue should go towards programs on drug issues rather than to the black market and organized crime.”
Burdick doesn’t see legalizing marijuana impacting the opioid epidemic because he said marijuana is also a very effective medicinal use and can deter use of other drugs.
Burdick said he supported the 2019 bail reform but wants further revisions.
“The underlying premise is that nobody should be held in jail because they can’t afford to pay bail,” Burdick said. “It’s unjust and directly impacts people of color and the poor.”
Claims of crime spikes because of bail reform has not have supporting data, Burdick claimed.
“We’re going to need to take another look at (bail reform) and make certain changes,” he said. “We also don’t want to see it go too far.”
A new gun law that addresses firearm activity is supported by Burdick. “Ghost Guns,” – homemade firearms or parts of guns that can be bought on the internet – is of particular concern.
“The gun isn’t registered and there’s no way to trace it and can evade gun regulations,” Burdick said. “We need to do more.”
As vice chairman of Sustainable Westchester, Burdick said the $3 billion New York State green referendum would create debt service and go into future budgets. It was postponed until at least 2021 because of the fiscal crisis caused by the pandemic.
“Maybe we can spend less and look at $1 billion or $500 million,” Burdick said.
Initiatives such as reducing carbon emissions, increasing usage of renewable energy, building solar farms and partnering with sustainable businesses are among the green actions that would restore the economy, he said.
93rd Assembly District candidate John Nuculovic (R-Bedford) did not respond to The Examiner’s requests for interviews.