The 7th Senatorial District is located in the northwest corner of Nassau County on Long Island. The district encompasses the entire town of North Hempstead. It also includes the communities of Elmont, Floral Park, South Floral Park, Stewart Manor, Bellerose, Franklin Square and part of Hicksville.
Sitting down with the busy, but gracious Senator Michael Balboni the first thing he said was, "You know this whole 'fix Albany' thing is ironic because in the last two years I have accomplished more than all the other years in the senate, having passed more bills in both the Senate and Assembly in an effort to do just that, fix Albany."
The Republican incumbent said since he was elected to office in 1997 he authored and championed legislation on a broad spectrum of issues that includes adoption, affordable health insurance, job development and clean water, as well as tougher penalties for child sexual abuse, domestic violence, elder abuse, gang violence, stalking and terrorism.
Senator Balboni said that in March he was honored to be appointed by Homeland Security Chairman Tom Ridge to the Homeland Security Funding Task Force. Prior to that appointment, however, he emerged as the state's leader on homeland security issues. Shortly after September 11, 2001 Balboni sponsored what is now the state's anti-terrorism law. It creates severe criminal penalties for people who commit terrorist acts, make terrorist threats or render assistance to terrorists in the state.
Balboni also chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs which oversees and moves legislation relating to all aspects of homeland security.
Balboni authored a 2002 law that requires all water suppliers in the state to provide an analysis of vulnerability to terrorist attacks as part of their overall water emergency plan. Since he became the chair of the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs last year, he shepherded 14 anti-terrorism bills through the Senate.
In addition, Balboni has actively promoted legislation to provide increased benefits to veterans and sponsored legislation that would give businesses tax incentives when they collaborate with colleges to create more jobs. He also introduced legislation that requires insurers to hold public hearings before they increase the cost of health insurance premiums.
The senator, as chairman of the Senate Majority Task Force on Youth Violence and the Entertainment Industry, sponsored legislation restricting children's access to violent video games. His anti-gang legislation protects children from gang recruitment on school property and creates a network database to assist law enforcement in tracking gangs.
In 2000, environmental groups lauded Balboni for his ardent support of the law to protect families from pesticide exposure.
Because he is so aware of the concerns of the senior citizens in his district, Balboni said, he sponsored Kathy's Law, which was enacted in 1998 to significantly increase penalties for caregivers that abuse elderly patients.
Balboni also pointed out that he sponsored a "towing bill" that puts into law a requirement that companies accept checks, credit cards and debit cards when servicing stranded motorists.
Balboni said, in light of the recent Roslyn School scandal, that he is working to pass legislation that would require all school district, administrators, personnel as well as school board members to reveal their assets and to identify any personal connection they have with school administration members, teachers or with any firm hired to work for the district.
As the former chairman of the Senate Committee on Water Resources, Balboni introduced legislation to require lead testing in school water and co-sponsored the law banning the gasoline additive known as MTBE.
Balboni, a lifelong resident of Long Island, graduated with honors from Adelphi University in 1981 and earned his Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law in 1984. Upon admission to the bar in 1985, he began his career in public service as counsel to the former Senator John R. Dunne. He was then counsel to the New York State Senate Judiciary Committee and counsel to the deputy majority leader of the senate. In 1987 he was appointed Deputy County Attorney in Nassau County, where he served until his election to the New York State Assembly where he served for eight years prior to his election to the Senate.
He lives in East Williston with his wife Stephanie and their children Olivia, Nicholas, Julia and Michaela.
"I am part of a fix Albany campaign," stated Martin Marshak, candidate for New York State Senate, 7th District. Marshak said that he is not running so much against the incumbent, Senator Michael Balboni, but is really running for the office and against State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. "A shift of seven senators throughout the state would make a difference; we need some changes and that's what has to happen," he told Anton Newspapers.
Marshak, a former assistant district attorney and longtime political activist, is a lifelong New York State resident who has lived in Great Neck for 28 years. First and foremost, he focused on the state budget, the need for budget reform --- the need to get a budget done on time, "so municipalities can do their budgets, so we will know where our resources will go." He would like to see budget reform that ensures the budget is passed before the legislators go home for four months. "Reform is not new, but this year it's got a tidal wave behind it; people really feel the need for change and the hope is it starts from the top," Marshak stated.
He finds it "arrogant" that Senator Bruno will not announce his position on a possible budget override until after the election. "If you vote for a candidate you should know his position on issues before you vote," Marshak said.
Again emphasizing that the senate must change, he offered some statistics, reporting that the NYU Brennan Report says that the New York State Senate is the worst, rated 50 out of 50, rated the most inefficient and the most expensive, and with only five percent of the bills debated.
Marshak continued: "I have trouble understanding a budget that is already 133 days late and the governor sends a message to just vote, don't discuss or read it. The senate has the votes to override but will wait until after the election. Sixty percent of the budget is spent when it is finally voted on and this is unfair, especially to schools."
Along those lines, Marshak also stated that "the governor is not a friend of higher education and I think that should change." First, he would like to see a tuition cap for SUNY tuition for four years, starting when a student enters the school. The candidate would also propose legislation that would include loan forgiveness for government service or public service (for professions such as teachers, fireman, police officers).
In conjunction with a more reasonable tuition schedule, Marshak proposes other ways of keeping young people in the community. "There is a serious brain drain of young people raised here in the district, who still live with parents because they can't afford to own a home; first lured away to other states where college costs less and then off to where salaries are guaranteed," he explained.
Marshak said that affordable housing, too, would help keep the young closer to home. "We need affordable housing, workforce cluster housing, not cheap housing," he said.
Marshak went on to say that he does not believe that the Republicans are responsive to the people in the seventh district nor to the residents of New York State. With 20 percent of the seventh district represented by minorities, he stated that there is no diversity in state senate representation. "The Democrats take a lead in making their representatives a more diverse group and better reflect the community," he added.
As for Senator Balboni, his opponent told how the senator sponsored a minimum wage bill, that did pass, but Marshak believes that the Republicans knew the governor would veto. And, Marshak said, even though the senate might have the votes for an override, they will not do it. "That's where our problem comes ... they (the Republicans) say they sponsor good bills and it is not their fault they die in committee in the senate, killed by the governor," Marshak stressed.
"No all incumbents are bad; some work very hard, but there needs to be a change in the majority and the power base," Marshak said. "The result will be fiscal responsibility and accountability to the voting public," he added.
"We need voices that ring out for the people, legislators who work hard and until we can change it from three people running Albany, we're in trouble. It's a matter of getting the message out," Marshak stated in conclusion.