Mayer, Byrne, Burdick, Galef the Choices for State Legislature

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For the past two-and-a-half years, state Sen. Shelley Mayer has represented arguably one of the most diverse districts anywhere in the state.

The 37th Senate District extends from parts of Yonkers in the southern end, through the Sound Shore communities and up to the Town of Bedford.

Mayer has been able to successfully wade through the challenges of handling very different constituencies – and problems. As the chair of the Senate’s Education Committee she has handled those occasionally competing interests with aplomb.

Her sensible approach and ability to adapt is laudable. No one likes to raise taxes, but given the looming fiscal crisis Mayer is open to finding new revenues that will cause as little pain as possible. She supports a temporary 2 percent increase on the top tax rate for those earning over $5 million a year and a stock transfer tax, among other possibilities.

After opposing the legalization of marijuana since she started serving in the Senate, Mayer is now open to its passage, mainly because of the revenue stream it promises to provide.  Her support for sensible police reform is a welcome voice.

Her opponent, Dr. Liviu Saimovici, is an accomplished eye doctor, whose life experience of growing up behind the Iron Curtain has certainly shaped his worldview.

Saimovici is at least partially correct in assessing that New York is overregulated, which drives businesses out of New York. However, there are sensible regulations to protect health and safety.

Mayer should be returned to the Senate for another term.

94th Assembly District: Kevin Byrne

Voters in the 94th Assembly District are fortunate to have two capable candidates to choose from when they go to the polls this year.

Incumbent Kevin Byrne, who is running for a third two-year term in Albany, has worked well with leaders in the municipalities he represents and responded to their needs with funding for seemingly small but important projects.

His opponent, Stephanie Keegan, has never run for elected office, but she has advocated tirelessly and effectively for issues to benefit veterans following the death of one of her three sons after he returned from active duty in Afghanistan.

After getting his feet wet during his first term, Byrne hit his stride over the last two years and demonstrated he was willing and able to work across the aisle to best serve his constituents. If elected, Keegan would be in the Democratic majority.

Both candidates are level-headed and have a clear set of priorities that they plan to focus on if they prevail on Nov. 3.

In a race where voters really can’t make a bad choice, the nod is given to Byrne for re-election for his experience and promise of getting even more done for those he serves.

However, Keegan deserves applause for her efforts and commitment to veterans causes and she should not rule out another run in the near future.

93rd Assembly District: Chris Burdick

In perhaps the most obvious nod, Burdick should easily make the leap from Bedford town supervisor to Albany. At the municipal level, Burdick has been a leader on environmental issues, particularly in his role as vice chairman of Sustainable Westchester.

Before his seven years as supervisor, Burdick served for six years on the Bedford Town Board.

If he is elected, Burdick wants to make additional revisions to bail reform and would only support legalizing recreational marijuana if steps were taken, such as an education program to address the potential for impaired driving.

His opponent, John Nuculovic, is on the ballot on the Republican line but has not run an active campaign.

95th Assembly District: Sandy Galef

One of the elder stateswomen of the legislature, Galef has been a fixture representing her district since the early 1990s. She has provided consistent and steady representation for her constituents and continues today.

Her opponent, Lawrence Chiulli, is an intriguing candidate who is mature beyond his 23 years. He would be well served to continue his involvement in the political process if unsuccessful.

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