With the retirement of our Assemblyman leaving a vacant seat in our district, I sat down with State Assembly candidate, Todd Kaminsky at The Point Ale House, to find out what his campaign is about.
How is the campaign going so far?
“I think it’s going really well. I think people are excited about having a young person with energy and a professional background … getting involved in politics. I’m trying to meet as many people as I can and let them know what I’m about, hear with they have to say and then hopefully … work together.”
You are endorsed by retiring Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg.
“Harvey’s endorsement has been extremely helpful. I’m knocking on doors in Oceanside I’m knocking on doors in Island Park. Sandy is still on a lot of people’s minds. We are bordered on all sides by water, so Sandy is still front and center. I tell them about the work I did in Long Beach after Sandy (helping homeowners navigate the government agencies with help on their Sandy claims) and it resonates. The campaign is going well. Our run up to November will be canvassing, door knocking, and phone calls to get everybody motivated”
What has your background been to this point?
“I was a prosecutor for 10 years. First, as the domestic violence prosecutor in the Queens DA office, and then as a federal prosecutor with the US attorney’s office. The last job I had, for six years, was amazing. I used to literally, every day, say ‘good morning your honor I’m Todd Kaminsky on behalf of United States’ I’ve prosecuted a lot of pretty bad criminals including a NY Senator. I became one of the Department Chiefs of the corruption unit. I believe I have a good reputation not only with my own office but with the law-enforcement agencies that I’ve worked with, defense attorneys, the judges. Your word means something as a prosecutor and I’ve always stuck to my word.”
How do you think that will help you in this position if elected?
“I spent a lot of time looking at files of a lot of bad people in Albany so I have a keen sense of what’s going on up there and I think sending someone like me with that background will be very helpful. Being a prosecutor teaches you to fight. We have an adversarial system. You have to prove (your case) to 12 people; you have to let a judge know how important it is; convince someone at a law-enforcement agency to arrest them and then fight. I fought against the toughest and most highly compensated defense attorneys. Like the Pedro Espada trial-it lasted 2 months and my summation was six hours. That’s the type of person we need for our district. We need a person who fights, someone to go to Albany and get our infrastructure money. We need to get our roads paved. We need to get our public school needs (filled), we need to get a hospital now. All those things require tenacity and fighting. You have to be focused, and you have to be the hard worker this job is going to require.”
Is there anything that can be done at the state level to help the situation with the hospital?
“Yes there is. There is no doubt we are in a bureaucratic morass. There is no reason we should not have a 911 receiving emergency room. Right now, we have an urgent care facility that with a few tweaks, could receive ambulances. South Nassau (Community Hospital) wants to do it. They’re losing money in the (small number of) doctor visits to the urgent care center. Unfortunately the really bad injuries are what pay the bills. They want to do it, the state is holding it up. I want to be in the department of health everyday, pushing to get a substantial medical center where the hospital was. You should be able to be treated. There’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a hospital there again.”
On legislation that passed but has not been enacted :
“There is a whole raft of legislation involving insurance companies having to respond to storm victims that has been languishing, that we need to push forward. There’s no reason why people have to wait so long to get certain visits, have to be wrangling with their insurance companies. There is a lot of legislation generally…and initiatives I’d like to get involved in.”
With the power split being so close in Albany, and who knows who will actually work within each party anyway, are there issues that you can work across the aisle on?
“I think that it’s New York City versus Long Island. The city wants some of our amazing ground water from the Lloyd aquifer. That’s something where I’m sure I can partner with Republicans … Because we have a common interest and you have to do that. I pride myself on being a progressive and fairly moderate person. When I knock on doors of Republicans and Independents, they might say “oh- a democrat”. I say Yeah- a democrat who put people in jail for ten years. Judge me on my record and what I’ve done. I’ll definitely be working with Republicans. I want to be a fairly progressive democrat and if you don’t reach across the aisle you’re making a mistake.”
Is there any driving issue for you?
“878 [road north of Atlantic Beach Bridge] and it’s terrible condition is a huge issue . Id love … to move that project forward. Getting people back into their homes after Sandy. I’m sure my office will be dealing with constituents’ cases with NY Rising every day.
Making sure that we have our infrastructure funding (so if) another storm comes we have protection. Our school funding goes down every year and our taxes are extremely high because of it and kids are getting shortchanged. The school boards have to keep cutting year after year so these cuts….pit community members against each other.” Like with East school this year.
In all this campaigning is there anything that surprised you?
“I didn’t expect I’m learning something new every day and I certainly …didn’t expect that at this point in the game I would have to be trying to handle the problems people have now. People are desperate and need help now. (I’ve taken) a call from a contractor that is not getting paid by his boss. I got a call from someone whose insurance company is not getting back to them. Im trying to work while campaigning, … ill make the calls for anybody. Other avenues of relief are over burdened. I didn’t really expect to have to do that, but I’m happy to do it if I can.”
Any other issues that don’t get the attention they should?
“I’m a corruption prosecutor. That’s what I did until (5) months ago. People are just so tired of politics. I would’ve thought there would be more “federal prosecutor wants to go to Albany? where can I sign up?”
People want their streets paved, they want their hospital and they want their schools and I appreciate that. I think the more we throw out the guys who have their hands in other people’s pockets or other peoples hands in their pockets … the better Albany we will have, and the better off we will be.
I am proud to wholeheartedly support the women’s equality agenda which calls for greater protection for domestic violence victims, equal pay for equal work, greater protection of the right to choose; among other important initiatives.”
What are your thoughts on the Environment, Fracking and Climate Change?
“Harvey leaving is a big deal to a lot of environmentalists. He was…(for) protecting the water, protecting the beaches, so I want to fill that void. The city (NYC) wants to come … to drill into our water. We could have saltwater intrusion issues.
Nobody has proven to me that fracking is safe. Until someone is able to prove that, overwhelmingly, I have grave doubts. I am going to do whatever I can to prevent it from happening. With respect to helping people protect the beaches, that’s who we are. The community is what makes Long Beach and it’s also hard to think of Long Beach, Point Lookout and Lido without the beach, and that’s what we have to protect first and foremost. To anybody standing in the way of helping us keep our sand and our beaches the way they are, I am going to be fighting left and right. I don’t want people to think I’m going to come in and start reordering the government, but I do believe that an Assemblyman who is willing to get in the face of the bureaucracy and push it along will matter, and that’s what I intend to do.
The world is getting warmer if we don’t do anything we’re in trouble. It’s late and we need to get our act together. There are very small changes our communities could put together on a local level that will reduce our carbon footprint and make the world a little better. I’m all for doing everything from the smallest things to the big policy things. Making incentives for greener energy; my friend has a solar panel company and I’d like to help companies like his grow, and wind energy. All the alternatives are important. The days of us passing the buck on to the next generation have to stop.
We need real leadership and I’ll… do everything I can.”
Election Day is this coming Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Point Lookout voting is at Bishop Molloy Rec Center.
Thursday 10/30/14 is Point Lookout Civic Association’s “Meet the Candidates” night at Bishop Malloy Rec Center at 8:00 PM.