Since November of 1989 Republican incumbent Kemp Hannon, a resident of the Village of Garden City, has been serving the 6th State Senatorial District in Albany, and is currently seeking re-election.
Hannon is currently the chair of the Health Committee and also serves on committees such as the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, the Codes Committee, and the Energy and Telecommunications Committee. Hannon served as the co-chair of the Budget Conference Subcommittee on Health and is the vice-chair of the National Conference of State Legislature's Health Committee. He has also been the co-chair of the Council for the State Government's Committee on Suggested State Legislation for the last 10 years. He recently held question and answer sessions across the district to inform his constituents about the Basic STAR and Enhanced STAR programs and recently addressed issues concerning the residents of the district in an interview with Anton Community Newspapers.
Hannon began by answering questions regarding the efforts of numerous communities throughout the district to revitalize their downtown areas and what the state is doing to assist in these efforts. He noted that people in Farmingdale have done much to revitalize their downtown, and addressed the difficulties for communities like Garden City, where the main thoroughfare, Franklin Avenue, was once a main street for shopping and has in recent times experienced vacancies and difficulties in finding tenants. He identified shifts in the economy and the move in other successful revitalization projects to not only beautify the streetscape (as the Village of Garden City has just bonded $3.1 million to do), but to target the types of shops that will address the needs and desires of the main street shoppers. Money from state initiatives like the Multi Modal Project have provided areas like Garden City with as much as $100,000, which they can then use in their streetscape projects and other revitalization efforts.
The LIRR is another subject of concern to residents across Long Island, and Hannon says that he and his colleagues in the state Senate have been working to protect the interests of their districts. Hannon stated, "The LIRR has spent a lot of money to redo it and improve the quality, to provide on-time service, provide air conditioning in each car, etc. At the state-level we've voted in appropriations to help them in these efforts, to provide better quality for our commuters, and despite our efforts, it's not working. The current status of the LIRR is just not acceptable." He says he is committed to continuing the State's efforts to press for a higher quality of service to be provided to the residents of Long Island who need to use this vital service daily.
With regard to the controversial freight movement on the LIRR's tracks, which have been leased by the private freight company New York and Atlantic Railroad, Hannon explained that there seems to be no easy solution to the conflict between the desire to reduce the truck traffic moving through suburban streets and avenues and the concerns of residents living along the Main Line who fear that freight running by their homes will diminish their quality of life. "The Main Line has always been busy. The geographic makeup of Long Island is such that there's really no way to get around the Main Line being used. The Hempstead Branch was not used, and the proposals to begin implementing it for freight transport were a different situation," Hannon said. He added, "The 18 month deal I made, along with Village officials from communities along the Hempstead Branch, worked and got the railroad and administration not to ship the freight on it." He addressed the County's Comprehensive Plan's recommendations to increase freight shipping to reduce traffic on the County's roadways by noting that the County did assure residents of Garden City that the intermodal facility just east of its boundaries will not be used. This means that a facility "much further east will be used" once the Mineola Boulevard Bridge is redone and other "barriers to freight" are eliminated, which is not such happy news to the eastern region of the district in communities like Levittown and Farmingdale, who may see intermodal facilities in heavy use in their midst in the near future.
As the chair of the Senate Health Committee, Hannon says he is pleased to have had the opportunity to sponsor numerous legislative initiatives to ensure that New York state protects the interests of its citizens. Breast cancer clusters identified in areas of Nassau County such as Levittown, and the disturbingly high rates of all cancer found in this County compared to the national rates, has prompted Hannon to help lead the efforts to identify why this is happening and how to prevent it. Hannon sponsored the Cancer Research Improvement Act of 1997, which requires health care providers to report cancer data to the New York State Cancer Registry faster and with greater detail and comprehensiveness. With this information, the hope is that the State's researchers will be able to identify patterns and success rates of prevention and treatment measures.
Legislation to bring the State's laws in line with federal government's Mammography Quality Standards Act was sponsored by Hannon and was designed to provide the patient with the original copy of her mammogram. The Prostate Cancer Public Summary legislation was also sponsored by Hannon and calls for the Commissioner of Health to develop a summary for the public which discusses pertinent information related to prostate cancer such as symptoms, risks, detection methods, and treatments available. In 1997 the Long Term Care Finance and Integration Act was passed, which encourages private financing of services for the chronically ill for long-term care and is designed to maintain the care, yet reduce Medicaid. Last year the State also passed the Hannon sponsored Patient Rights Booklet and the Organ, Eye and Tissue Donations Routine Referral initiatives. The booklet was prepared by the Department of Health and contains all federal and State information hospitals are legally required to provide to their patients. The donation referral bill calls for the notification of organ banks when a patient has died at a hospital so that they may make the request of the family for a donation.
One initiative in which Hannon expresses pride is the Pain Management Legislation. He explained that, "there was legislation in place protecting access to restorative or rehabilitative care, but palliative care (the alleviation of pain for people suffering with diseases or conditions that may be incurable like certain forms or stages of cancer) was treated as a subset of the narcotic population." He says it took about three years of determined work, but now the legislation has passed and now "doctors can prescribe controlled substances without fear of being treated like criminals." Chronically and terminally ill patients can now receive drugs for the management of their pain through their doctors more readily. Medications can be prescribed in limited amounts more easily as well, hopefully eliminating the potentially wasteful amounts before, according to Hannon. The triplicate filing process has been eliminated and replaced with a single, serialized form, enabling practitioners to file directly with the Department of Health via email.
Patients are also able to have outside evaluations of their cases if their care is denied by their health care providers thanks to other legislation sponsored by Hannon. He is also working to help asthma patients find treatment and possibly help researchers identify causes and prevention methods by tracking asthma cases. Hannon has introduced a bill that would prevent the sale of prescription drugs over the Internet in an attempt to eliminate the distribution of medication to people who have not been to see a doctor and the possible adverse repercussions of this practice.
Hannon says with regard to the State's economy that he has been pleased to support such initiatives as the expanded sales tax benefits for clothing and footwear, motor vehicle registration reductions and refunds, reduction of the corporate tax to encourage businesses to stay in New York and keep the jobs here, tax provisions to encourage high technology for small companies, eliminate the sales tax on textbooks, and child care credit for families with annual incomes under $50,000. He also says that the STAR program has saved the New York State taxpayers $2.24 billion in property tax relief already, and that the schools will not suffer in state aid as a result. In fact, school aid for 1998-99 is said to amount to over $800 million.
Hannon concluded that there is still more work to be done and that he looks forward to returning to Albany to continue his efforts on behalf of the 6th Senatorial District. Hannon and his wife Bronwyn have two twin daughters, Alexandra and Madeleine, who attend the Garden City Public Schools. He graduated from Chaminade High School, Boston College, and Fordham Law School and is a practicing attorney in Nassau County.
In a recent interview with Anton Community Newspapers, Paul F. Callahan said that he has decided to run for the 6th Senatorial District seat because he does not believe that any of the other candidates adequately address his concerns on the issue of abortion. A flier he presented to this paper accused the federal government of giving funds to foreign countries to contribute to the "genocide" of the people of the African continent and argued that the choice to terminate a pregnancy indicates that people are willing to "kill for sex." When asked to respond to criticism that candidates from his party fail to address all of the issues, he stated, "I don't see why they wouldn't be able to address other issues." With that, the interview moved to topics such as the environment and the economy.
Callahan commented, "I've lived in Garden City since 1955 and I remember before DDT was made illegal. I used to put it around the house and that really got rid of the pests. We wanted to pesticide them and now they made it illegal. It's certainly enhanced the termite extermination business. Now they have to treat the houses for termites in a certain way and they have to come in once a year. I don't know if anything has been gained by banning the DDT. DDT was used for a number of years prior to the ban." When questioned about this stance in light of reports that DDT was a threat to the environment and led to the deaths of other animals and endangered the health of the human population as it seeped into the water supply, he said, "I don't know that that's true."
He was also questioned in relation to legislative initiatives such as the Pesticide Notification Bill, requiring homeowners to notify their neighbors when having pesticides sprayed on their lawns, and the tracking of cancer on Long Island to attempt to draw connections between factors like chemicals in the environment to breast cancer and other forms of cancer. Callahan answered, "In California with the fruits and vegetables, they produce enough to feed the whole US with some left over to feed some small countries. They must use pesticides. Has a study been done nationally to determine if they have high rates of cancer in Kentucky or somewhere to compare where they use a lot of pesticides and where they don't?" He added that he supports cancer research, but that this is an issue that "would be more readily dealt with on a national level."
In terms of the economy he commented, "I don't think there's a solution that's going to cure everything. The poor are always going to be with you -- sometimes because of the way government operates. The number of poor increases when you have a tremendous number of people on the welfare rolls. They've reduced the numbers, at least in New York City, and in the Senatorial area I'm running in, that's not really a problem." He added, "Immigrants are very helpful. I don't believe in the term illegal immigrant. I think, I don't know firsthand, that many people who cut lawns are immigrants and they do that until they get a step up and get a position that pays more money." He concluded, "They help us because they do the jobs Americans don't want to do; it's difficult to get Americans to do jobs you might call menial."
With regard to health care he related a story of someone he knew who needed additional blood tests to determine the cause of his ailment, but the HMO refused the additional tests, calling them unnecessary. He said, "I don't think that's good, going over the head of the doctor that you as the patient rely on. If the doctor calls for the test it should be done. Some doctors may be disreputable and call for tests to bring in as many customers as possible when the tests aren't needed, but that could be remedied by law enforcement. If they find out someone is routinely sending someone for X-rays they don't need, they could investigate it. The government takes its time investigating things, but in the meantime someone may need those tests and the HMO shouldn't be able to say no like that."
He concluded that he feels that the HMOs "take away the initiative" of medical practitioners and says that health care will be one of his top priorities in the State Senate if elected.
Callahan is a lawyer with a practice in Brooklyn and is a Navy veteran. He and his wife have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
Edna Craig of Hempstead is the Liberal candidate. She could not be reached for an interview, and her party chairperson has indicated that she is not actively campaigning.