Election sets stage for NYSNA’s 2017 legislative agenda

Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara (center).

The vote is in… the ballots are counted… and there are some big wins for NYSNA in the New York State Legislature. Some, like State Senator Todd Kaminsky, D-District 9, fought hard with the help of NYSNA to keep their seats. Others, like Senator-elect Marisol Alcantara, D-District 31, the first NYSNA staffer ever elected to State office, will hit the halls of Albany for the first time, bringing fresh energy to pressing legislative battles, such as safe staffing, fair funding for safety net hospitals, and the preservation of a strong public health system.

All total: 137 NYSNA-endorsed candidates declared victory. Among them, Assemblywomen Addie Russell, D-District 116, and Michaelle Solages, D-District 22, who have walked shoulder-to-shoulder with our nurses on hospital picket lines; Senator George Latimer, D-District 37, a staunch supporter of the New York Health Act; and Senators Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-District 35, Terrence Murphy, R-District 40, and many, many others who have offered key support for the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. These candidates share our vision of equal access to quality care and are committed to building healthy, safe and vital communities.

Strong advocates

The 12 candidates profiled on the following pages have been consistent and strong advocates for New York nurses and their patients. Along with the rest of our 137 endorsed candidates, they will go to Albany ready to stand with NYSNA as we continue to advocate for the highest quality healthcare for all New Yorkers, clean water and air, the preservation of a strong public health system, and other issues of importance to New Yorkers.

We’ll be visiting their offices, calling them, sending postcards and counting on their leadership in the upcoming legislative session. We look forward to working with the entire Assembly and Senate in the coming months to enact progressive change for New York’s patients, workers, and families.

NEW YORK CITY

Senate, D-District 31

NYSNA’s own Marisol Alcantara made history as the first Dominican woman elected to the New York State Legislature. She succeeds Adriano Espaillat, who is replacing the Honorable Charles Rangel in the U.S. House, as the representative for Washington Heights, Inwood and parts of Harlem. Alcantara shares many of NYSNA’s priorities and on her legislative to-do list is ushering the safe staffing bill to a senate floor vote.

Alcantara, who currently works as a NYSNA organizer at NY Presbyterian and Montefiore hospitals, is a champion of equal access to quality healthcare. She is known for her high energy, commitment to social and economic justice, and dogged commitment to educating and empowering minorities, women and immigrant workers.

Alcantara will fight to bring affordable housing to all New Yorkers and equitable access to high quality education to children. She is passionate about protecting the environment; modernizing New York’s antiquated voting system; and passing the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which grants state tuition assistance to undocumented students.

LONG ISLAND

Senate, D-District 9

Todd Kaminsky, whose district skews heavily Republican, fought a hard won campaign for the seat once occupied by convicted former Senator Dean Skelos. When the ballots were finally tallied, Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor and Long Island Assemblyman, had edged up 5,000 votes with the help of significant get-out-the-vote efforts from NYSNA to take the southwestern Nassau County seat.

Kaminsky, the incumbent, first elected to the Senate after Skelos stepped down, earned NYSNA’s loyalty with his staunch support for the safe staffing act in the Assembly and again when he moved to the Senate. Kaminsky, also a champion of women’s rights, has pushed for equal pay for women and is a stalwart supporter of pro-choice policies.

A life-long resident of the South Shore, Kaminsky lived through Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, a firsthand education in the effects of climate change and our state’s need for newer, more resilient infrastructure. Kaminsky has called for ethics reform, public campaign financing, term limits, a ban on outside income, and closing campaign contribution loopholes for limited liability companies.

Assembly, D-District 22

Michaelle Solages, the first Haitian elected to the Assembly, won re-election after beating back a challenge from a Valley Stream Republican with deep family and political ties to the community. Solages had incurred the wrath of business interests, who fought hard against her this election, because she insisted that the redevelopment of Belmont Park include community input and a community benefits agreement that would bring good-paying jobs to local residents.

In her first term, Solages successfully lobbied for property tax relief for District-22 residents and along with Gov. Cuomo and others for the paid family leave bill. She supported raising New York’s minimum wage and views safe working conditions as a fundamental right. Solages is known for her dedication to women’s rights and promoting women and minority-owned businesses.

Solages, who represents Elmont, Floral Park, and Valley Stream, among others, has shown strong commitment to Franklin and Syosset Hospitals and earned the support of nurses and community members. Solages has walked picket lines with NYSNA and is a leader in the Assembly on safe staffing.

CENTRAL

Assembly, D-District 116

Assemblywoman Addie Russell walked every picket line with NYSNA at Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center and is well known to our nurses and hospital management. During our campaign for a fair contract, Russell urged the hospital CEO to honor fair terms for nurses and safe staffing for nurses and patients. Russell has fought the privatization of Messina Memorial Hospital and supported the Enhanced Safety Net Hospital bill, which provides increased funding for five hospitals in the district.

The race to unseat Addie Russell is estimated to have been the most expensive Assembly contest in the state. Supporters, including hospitals, of Port Vincent Councilman John Byrne, III, poured nearly $1 million into defeating Russell — a war chest that Russell did not come close to matching. Russell, known to be a fighter on behalf of working New Yorkers, outflanked Byrne anyway due to strong voter loyalty in the district.

Throughout her tenure, Russell has championed worker rights. She co-sponsored the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and voted to increase New York’s minimum wage, for paid family leave, and in favor of the Women’s Equality Act.

HUDSON VALLEY

Senate, D-District 37

Hudson Valley Senator George Latimer has built a solid record of accomplishment during his four years in the New York Legislature. Latimer sponsored legislation and advanced funding for education, environmental issues (including protection of Long Island Sound), housing, transportation, healthcare, and lower property taxes. Latimer, who spent years in the Assembly, was first elected to the Senate in 2012. He has a proven track record with our nurses and supports the safe staffing and the New York Health acts.

Latimer’s district includes Bedford, Bronxville, Eastchester, Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Port Chester, Rye, Rye Brook, Tuckahoe, White Plains and parts of Yonkers. Latimer retained his seat in a hard-fought campaign with strong grassroots support and his message on ethics reform, education, and property-tax reduction.

Latimer is known for his scandal-free political career, his transparency, his strong work ethic, and his ability to deliver for constituents.

Senate, R-District 40

Republican Senator Terrence Murphy is known to be a friend of labor and for his responsiveness to community needs. He handily won his first bid for re-election.

During his first term, Senator Murphy co-chaired the NYS Joint Senate Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction and helped bring important changes to New York, including more training for doctors, the end to many 30-day prescriptions for opioids, more treatment beds, and an expansion of the DARE school-based education program. The package of laws, signed by Gov. Cuomo in June, increased from 48 to 72 hours the time someone grappling with addiction is placed under emergency evaluation and removes insurance barriers for people who need treatment.

Murphy established a nurse advisory committee early in his tenure and co-sponsored the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act. He is an advocate for those with developmental disabilities, seniors and veterans. He believes that protecting the environment is a non-partisan issue; he sponsored legislation to protect water quality; and is a supporter of clean energy production.

Murphy, whose district includes most of northern Westchester and parts of Putnam and Dutchess Counties, supports state ethics reform and has endorsed limiting lawmakers to three terms. In addition, Murphy co-sponsored a bill that would take pensions from legislators who are convicted of a felony.

Senate, D-District 35

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the first woman to serve as leader of New York’s Senate Democratic Conference. She has been unwavering in her support for NYSNA’s legislative priorities and fought for state budgets that include measures to protect the quality of care for patients and the profession and practice of nursing.

Stewart-Cousins, a speaker at the NYSNA Biennial, confirmed her commitment to passage of a safe staffing bill. “Nurses work long hours in demanding environments and patients, in large part, depend on them for both physical and emotional support,” said Stewart-Cousins. “The work they do is important — to doctors, to patients, and to the families of the people they treat. They serve as the faces of the hospitals that employ them, and patients’ feelings about hospitals are colored by the experiences they have with the nurses who treat them. Nurses work in the trenches and on the front lines of healthcare — and it’s important that we express our gratitude to them for providing us with the best care possible.”

Stewart-Cousins is a champion of the underserved and working families. She is a key sponsor of the DREAM Act and a vocal supporter of human rights, quality education, and accessible, affordable healthcare. Stewart-Cousins also wants to make government more efficient, demanding transparency and accountability to New York’s citizens.
Stewart-Cousins represents Greenburgh, Scarsdale, and parts of Yonkers, White Plains, and New Rochelle.

CAPITAL REGION

Assembly, D-District 110

We have seen him on our picket lines and at our meetings and Conventions. And now we will see him return to the Assembly. Phil Steck’s re-election is a win for all working people in his district and for the issues that NYSNA champions: quality healthcare that will protect the safety and well-being of our communities.

Democrat Steck faced a well-financed challenge by Republican Tom Murphy in a run for re-election to a third term to represent the district that encompasses Colonie, Niskayuna and part of Schenectady.

As a member of both the Assembly’s Health and Insurance committees, Steck has a role in two key measures on the NYSNA agenda. Advancing a single payer health insurance system is one, as he strongly supports the New York Health Act. Second, Steck co-sponsored the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and is committed to seeing it once again advance to the Assembly for a floor vote this session.

In addition, Steck is a strong voice for good government, transparency, building the middle class, improving New York schools, responsible economic development, and protecting women’s reproductive rights.

Assembly, D-District 111

Incumbent Rotterdam Democrat Angelo Santabarbara won re-election to a third term in a rematch of 2014’s contest with Canajoharie Republican Pete Vroman. The district contains all of Montgomery County and parts of Albany and Schenectady counties.

A civil engineer by trade, Santabarbara sits on the Assembly’s Mental Health, Veterans’ Affairs, Energy, Agriculture, Small Business, Government Employees, and Racing and Wagering Committees. Santabarbara was a major force in the Assembly in securing passage of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, raising the minimum wage, and in his support for the New York Health Act.

During the last session, NYSNA worked closely with Santabarbara to safeguard the health and safety of communities at risk for oil train accidents and the resulting health and environmental impacts. In recent years, the 111th District has seen an exponential increase in the volume of highly explosive crude oil transported by rail freight within its borders. Meanwhile, the district’s rural fire departments remain ill-equipped to respond to the type of emergency posed by these “bomb trains.” Santabarbara has taken a lead in calling for resources, training and legislation that would help protect rural communities against this growing, lethal threat. NYSNA and community allies join him in urging passage of legislation that would regulate how crude oil is treated and allow fire departments to respond to oil train accidents more efficiently.

Santabarbara chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Autism Retention and was the prime sponsor of a five-piece legislative plan, called Autism Action NY, aimed at increasing job opportunities, providing independent housing options, improving access to information, assisting in communication, and creating a centralized location for autism services in New York. He has an autistic son. The bill calls for the creation of an Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board to develop, implement and update a statewide Autism Action Plan, creating a central clearinghouse for autism services and information. It passed both houses in June and is awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature.

Time and again, Santabarbara has been there for NYSNA members, and we were there for him on November 8.

Assembly, D-District 113

Democrat Carrie Woerner won her first bid for re-election, defeating Republican Chris Boyark to represent the Saratoga and Washington County district. Politico had flagged the race as a key one to watch and likely to be among the most expensive because Republicans were eager to retake the seat that had been only narrowly won by Woerner in 2014. Despite the region’s long history of electing Republicans, Woerner prevailed on November 8 by a strong and decisive 12 percent margin!

Woerner’s record of accomplishment in her first term impressed voters. She was a constant and visible supporter of NYSNA’s Capital Region members, walking picket lines at Ellis, Bellevue and Nathan Littauer, and championing the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and New York Health Act inside the Assembly.

She advocated for clean energy, secured funding for fighting heroin and opioid addiction, supported measures to protect the environment, and advanced legislation to clean up corruption by requiring convicted legislators to forfeit public pensions. She, along with Phil Steck, sponsored a bill to improve access to healthy food in all communities (FRESH Communities).

WESTERN REGION

Assembly, D-District 143

In her first-ever run for elected office, Democrat Monica Wallace captured the seat representing the district to Buffalo’s east. It includes Cheektowaga, Lancaster and Depew. The incumbent Republican Angela Wozniak had declined to run following sanctions by a bipartisan Assembly ethics panel. Wallace came out ahead of her Republican challenger Russell Sugg.

Wallace focused her campaign on restoring public trust in elected officials and won endorsement from The Buffalo News and numerous labor unions.

As a former clerk to a federal judge, public interest lawyer and law professor at SUNY Buffalo, Wallace has strong grounding for the work ahead. She has frequently spoken out on issues affecting women, children and the community overall.

She is committed to a progressive platform that includes ethics reform, making higher education affordable for working families, investing in infrastructure, and ensuring that seniors have access to affordable housing and healthcare. She has pledged to support safe staffing, healthcare for all, and other NYSNA legislative priorities.

Assembly, D-District 141

Crystal Peoples-Stokes has a long history of advocating for working people — a record that has led voters in the 141st District to return her to office in every election since 2002, when she became the first African American woman to represent Buffalo in the Assembly. This year she garnered support from 84 percent of the district’s voters. She will return to the Assembly where she is a member of the Health, Insurance, Education, and Environmental Conservation committees and is the chair of the Governmental Operations Committee.

Members at Erie County Medical Center know they can count on Peoples-Stokes. She was a strong voice in the most recent session for passage of the Enhanced Safety Net Hospital bill, a sponsor of the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act and the New York Health Act. She has long advocated on issues related to child welfare, domestic violence, and lupus research and treatment.

Peoples-Stokes joined efforts to increase New York’s minimum wage when she first went to the Assembly back in 2002. She persevered with others and the Governor signed the wage bill earlier this year. She also championed the Paid Family Leave Act and has been a persistent supporter of increasing access to affordable childcare. Peoples-Stokes helped secure $29 million to establish the Western New York Workforce Development Center to teach job skills focused on advanced manufacturing in electronics, solar energy and other fields. She sponsored the fair tax bill, which makes middle-class taxpayers eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit and increases revenues to fund schools, infrastructure, child care and job creation.

Aside from her advocacy on economic and health issues, Peoples-Stokes has equally strong records on environmental protection, criminal justice reform, and improving government transparency.

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