''This is all about building a relationship,'' said newly-re-elected New York State Senator Michael Balboni, as he discussed his 57 percent win in a post-Election Day interview with the Great Neck Record. Senator Balboni is anxious to ''get out there'' and thank his constituents, and he is most anxious to continue with his work in the seventh senatorial district.
Michael Balboni (center) celebrates his victory in the 7th Senatorial District with chief counsel Jim Sherry and wife Stephanie.
Senator Balboni assured that he will ''continue to bring back as much money as possible to the district.'' On Nov. 8 he had already announced that he has secured a new $250,000 grant for the Great Neck Arts Center's facility enhancement fund. Questioned as to why he ''held'' this good news until after the election, the senator replied that the money had nothing to do with the election; it had to do with a ''cause.''
''These are not my funds; this is the community's money,'' Senator Balboni stated. ''I'm an advocate, but the services are from the Great Neck Arts Center to the community.''
And Senator Balboni is more than ready to advocate for a host of other issues that will not only impact on his district, but make a difference statewide too. ''I plan to focus on education and day care,'' he said. Calling the day care concept and day care providers ''under-appreciated,'' and under-paid, the senator wants to see ''significant steps'' in the quality of day care, as well as in the areas of access, affordability, and the ability of day care workers to properly provide their services.
Also along the lines of concerns for children, Senator Balboni wants to continue to tackle the ''video violence'' issue. Along with Assemblyman Thomas DiNapoli, he hopes to make more inroads in this area.
Focusing on senior citizens, Senator Balboni is pushing for a new law to make insurance providers ''responsible for seniors.'' A major concern is the problem of HMO's dropping seniors, leaving the older population without health care. The senator is set to ''bring a new idea to the HMOs,'' calling for companies that write multiple insurance lines to be required to include health care for senior citizens. ''If they (the insurance providers) want to write other lines (of insurance), they must be made to provide insurance for our seniors,'' the senator firmly stated.
Senator Balboni also expressed concern over the problem senior citizens have with the high cost of prescription drugs. ''No one should have to decide between food and medicine, between rent and medicine ... we can't let this happen to the elderly,'' Senator Balboni stated. Working through the offices of Congressman Gary Ackerman, Senator Balboni is trying to secure more federal government funds to be ''put into the system.''
For Senator Balboni, news of his win came early. He received a call from the state Republican headquarters at 10:35 p.m. on Election Day. ''I'm thrilled,'' he said. ''This was one of the sweetest victories ... there was so much negativity, with the link to the county's problems ... but I always believed that, with the experience I had with the people in my district, we would be fine ... we led the ticket in many areas; it was a nice percentage.''
Senator Balboni again expressed appreciation for the people in his district, noting the ''sophisticated, caring, informed constituency.'' Turning to his work with the Great Neck community, he stressed the wonderful relationship he enjoys with the people on this peninsula, ''from the mayors to the Chamber of Commerce to religious organizations to the school board.''
''The message out there is clear; if you work with us, we will work with you, regardless of party,'' stated Senator Balboni. ''And,'' said the senator, ''isn't it refreshing!''