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Change doesn’t happen often in the Assembly district that includes Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant. The late Richard Brodsky served 28 years and the current incumbent, Tom Abinanti, has spent the last 12 years representing that territory.
But change will happen this year in the 92nd Assembly District after County Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Dobbs Ferry) defeated Abinanti in the Democratic primary in June.
Shimsky is being challenged next week by Republican Carlo Valente of Hawthorne, an assistant building inspector in the Town of Eastchester. The district, which now includes a small piece of northwest Yonkers, is heavily weighted toward Democrats, giving Shimsky an major advantage. (President Biden won the district by 37 points in 2020.) But Shimsky is not taking anything for granted.
“The Republicans are making arguments out there and we have to counter those arguments and they’re all counterable,” said Shimsky, who is in her sixth and final term on the Board of Legislators. “But we have to make sure our people know what the story is with all of these and the importance of coming out to vote.”
Valente jumped into the race because of what he described as a culmination of government taking away too many liberties and too many citizens acquiescing. It reached intolerable levels during the pandemic with masking and vaccine mandates and the government telling residents where they could and could not go, he said.
He has also been involved as a parent in the Mount Pleasant School District, and too many mandates have filtered down to the schools as well, said Valente, who served in the Marines after spending much of his childhood in Yonkers.
“When I was 18 years old, I enlisted in the Marines because I wanted to say thank you (to the nation) for taking my parents straight off the boat from Italy,” Valente, a volunteer firefighter, said. “I said this is what I can do for this country, and thank you for giving my parents a better life.”
With the spiraling cost of living, Valente wants to help families today realize a better life. The state is spending billions on sweetheart deals and projects it and its residents can’t afford, he said.
“Why are we paying for a billion-dollar stadium up in Buffalo? Of course, I’m for clean air and water, but we’re going to spend $4.2 billion on something?” Valente said of the Environmental Bond Act. “Is it going to be spent appropriately? Is there going to be any kind of follow-through?”
Shimksy said the cost of housing is one of the biggest problems facing Westchester and the state. She would like to work on proposals that encourage the construction of affordable and more moderately priced housing, since so much of local construction has been for higher-end units.
Furthermore, too many tenants face out-of-control rents because they don’t have protections.
“We can’t continue this way, and if that means putting more regulation on landlords to control what they can charge, we’re going to have to do it,” Shimsky said.
Shimsky said while there are areas of the state where crime is on the rise, that is not the case in Westchester. Where there is higher crime, much of it has to do with too many illegal guns beings smuggled into New York, she said.
Although there needed to be revisions to bail reform, Shimsky said the spike in crime has little, if anything, to do with reform, since there are other areas of the country where crime has spiked without those measures.
Valente chided Shimsky for referring to bail reform as a mixed bag. He said there has been a high rate of arrest among those charged with felonies, laying the blame at the feet of Gov. Kathy Hochul and the Democrats.
Allowing people to have guns is necessary so criminals might think twice about committing offenses, Valente said. When offenders know they have easy targets, that’s when more crime occurs, he said.
“It puts the criminal and the victim on an even plateau,” Valente said of encouraging gun ownership for those who want to exercise that right.
Valente agrees with safe storage laws, enhanced training and education for gun owners.
Shimsky said the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade required New York to pass legislation in June with greater protections for women’s reproductive health freedom. She would like to strengthen penalties for those directly interfering with the operation of a reproductive health clinic.
Valente agrees with the high court’s decision to let each state’s voting public make the decision about abortion issues.
“The citizens of that state control what we want to live under and what we want to live by,” he said.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/