"I'm excited; in the sum total of my life experiences, all roads lead to Albany," Michelle Schimel told Anton Newspapers last week she kicked off her campaign as the Democratic Party's choice for New York State's 16th Assembly District. Schimel is running for the seat recently vacated by fellow Great Neck resident Tom DiNapoli who was appointed New York State Comrptoller. Schimel is currently North Hempstead town clerk, an elected position she has held for the past eight years.
Photo by Carol Frank
"My campaign is based on a three-prong approach," Schimel explained, "meaningful, doable, measurable." For Schimel, one of the challenges in this run is "to fill those big shoes of Tom's," and to make her own "mark" on the office.
"I am going to fight for my district; you can be sure of that," she said. Once in office, Schimel's main focus will be criminal justice, the environment (with a keen interest in alternative energy), and education (with property tax relief being a big part of the effort). Schimel was quick to emphasize that she would "keep an eye, always, so we get our fair share for our schools."
Schimel said that first she wants to really listen to the community. "I'm fortunate, I do that already, through the town clerk's office, with constituent services," she said. Her current job has provided much background for work as a state legislator, Schimel noted. "Town government is a great launching pad for the state legislature; I know who does what, I have the contacts," she said. She stated that she is "in a very good place," having worked all along with legislators, including co-authoring state bills and laws.
Schimel's intention, if elected, is to reach across the aisle in her work. "I'm used to that too," she said, as she explained that the town clerk is non-partisan, helping everyone.
Working as town clerk has also given her another perspective on legislation, as she has been the one to implement new legislation, sometimes with problematic results. "I now have an inside understanding of unintended consequences of legislation," she added.
Schimel finds legislation "fascinating," as, for her "it's not a stretch, I've done it."
Calling herself a "grass roots legislator," she has been an unpaid lobbyist since 1994. Her candidacy is now targeted by the NRA. She joined New Yorkers Against Gun Violence early on, and after the LIRR shooting became involved "big time," eventually forming the Long Island Chapter with Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. She is proud that her work has helped pass "sweeping legislation" on gun control on the local, state and federal levels.
Schimel is ready to step up to the plate. "I'm very comfortable in the legislative office building in Albany," Schimel said, adding that she also plans to maintain an office in Great Neck, although, as a junior legislator she will have much less funding than her predecessor, who also, over the years, served on many committees.
"This is a part-time job, but it will be more than full-time for me," Schimel assured.
The special election for the New York State 16th Assembly District will take place Tuesday, March 27.
At press time the Republicans had not announced a candidate to challenge Michelle Schimel. When the announcement is released Anton Newspapers will publish a story on the Republican candidate.