StreetsPAC today announced its first five candidate endorsements in 2014 races for the New York State Senate and Assembly. The safe-streets political action committee has put its support behind the reelection efforts of Manhattan State Senator Adriano Espaillat and Suffolk County Assemblyman Edward Hennessey, Bay Ridge Senate challenger James Kemmerer, Suffolk County Assembly challenger Tom Schiliro, and Pete Sikora, who’s running a primary race for Assembly in Brownstone Brooklyn.
“So much of what happens on the streets of New York City is dictated by actions, or inaction, in Albany,” said Glenn McAnanama, a StreetsPAC board member. “And more and more, people in places like Medford and Mattituck are interested in living in safely walkable and bikeable communities. We’re excited to put StreetsPAC’s backing behind candidates who are committed to safe streets, whether they be on the Upper West Side or downtown Riverhead.”
“Livable-streets policies are beginning to make some headway in the State Legislature,” said StreetsPAC board member Janet Liff. “A lower speed limit in New York City and an increase in the number of speed cameras are positive steps, but we need to do more. And the only way that will happen is through the election of complete-streets supporters to the Senate and Assembly.”
“Our first five endorsees are seeking election in districts that face very different transportation issues,” said Peter Frishauf, a board member of StreetsPAC. “But they have in common a commitment to making New York State’s roads safe for anyone who uses them.”
The candidates receiving StreetsPAC’s initial endorsements in state-level races are running to represent New Yorkers in districts from the tip of Manhattan to the tip of Long Island. Here’s a round-up:
Adriano Espaillat, Senate District 31, Washington Heights, Marble Hill, Upper West Side (Incumbent) – Espaillat, who won his Senate seat in 2010 after serving in the Assembly, has consistently backed safe-streets initiatives. He sponsored legislation that led to the recent lowering of New York City’s default speed limit, co-sponsored the 2011 Complete Streets law, and has been a strong advocate for Select Bus Service along 125th Street, a clear distinction from his opponents. Espaillat will continue the fight for full SBS implementation in his district, and plans to push to increase the number of speed cameras and end time-and-day restrictions. He supports the MoveNY plan for fair tolling of New York City’s bridges and tunnels.
Edward Hennessey, Assembly District 3, Suffolk County (Incumbent) – Hennessey, who was elected to represent his central Suffolk County 3rd District in 2012, was the prime sponsor of a new state law that increases penalties for texting while driving. A member of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee, he is also the lead sponsor of legislation that will increase penalties for hit-and-run drivers. Hennessey is advocating for a Safe Routes to Transit program for Suffolk County, has requested $1 million for a safer-bike-lane pilot program, and is fighting to have a portion of red-light camera revenue dedicated to complete-streets projects.
James Kemmerer, Senate District 22, Bay Ridge/Dyker Heights (Challenger) – Kemmerer, a tech entrepreneur and executive-committee member of the Bay Ridge Democrats, is challenging 12-year incumbent Marty Golden, who’s been a frequent obstacle to safe-streets policies in the State Senate. Kemmerer wants to improve and expand transportation options in Bay Ridge, including upgrading elevator access to subways, modernizing train controls and building better bus infrastructure. He wants to reduce the use of residential streets and business corridors as highway shortcuts, and expand successful programs like the Third Avenue Summer Stroll in frequency and scope. Kemmerer would like to change the toll structure on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and has endorsed the MoveNY plan.
Tom Schiliro, Assembly District 2, Suffolk County (Challenger) – Schiliro, an active two-decade veteran of the Suffolk County Park Police and a teacher, is challenging Anthony Palumbo, who won a special election last November, for the Assembly seat representing this North Fork district. Schiliro is a believer in lower speed limits in downtown and residential areas, and particularly in school zones. He supports implementation of complete-streets policies, as well as increased penalties for dangerous driving offenses. He’d like to see bike lockers installed at more Long Island Railroad stations, as has been done in Ronkonkoma.
Pete Sikora, Assembly District 52, Brownstone Brooklyn (Open Seat) – Sikora, political and legislative director for the Communications Workers of America District 1, and a former NYPIRG organizer, is running for the open Assembly seat being vacated by the retiring Joan Millman, with the backing of 2013 StreetsPAC endorsees Brad Lander and Steve Levin. He supports lowering New York City’s default speed limit to 20 MPH, and backs the MoveNY plan to balance tolls for NYC bridges and tunnels and fund the MTA. If elected, he will advocate for restoration of the B71 bus route, and Bus Rapid Transit on key routes in the 52nd District.
StreetsPAC will help elect its endorsed candidates with cash contributions and volunteer support. It expects to make several more rounds of endorsements in primary races and November’s general election.