The Island Now endorses Anna Kaplan for state Senate, 7th District

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Originally appeared in The Island Now on October 21, 2020 by The Island Now Editorial Board

There is an argument that voters are better served by a Legislature with one house controlled by Democrats and one by Republicans as had been the case for many years in New York.

That argument took an enormous hit when the Democrats took control of the state Senate in the beginning of 2019, aided by a sweep of all six districts on Long Island, including the 7th District won by Anna Kaplan.

The new Democratic Senate majority joined with the Democratic-controlled Assembly to quickly overhaul the state voting and election systems; eliminate the so-called LLC loophole, which allowed corporations to contribute virtually unlimited amounts of money to election races; codify abortion rights provided under Roe v. Wade in 1973; approve the Child Victims Act; and strengthen gun control.

All had been opposed by Senate Republicans. Which explains the dismal state of the Republican Party in New York.

Now Democratic senators did stumble in approving needed bail reforms in the beginning of 2020 by including the legislation in the state budget rather than as a separate bill and giving judges too little discretion.

But the Legislature – with the strong backing of Long Island’s Senate delegation – did quickly strengthen the rules in April.

And we have seen little in Kaplan’s re-election race this year against former Port Washington Police Commissioner Dave Franklin to give us reason for a change in representation in the 7th District.

Kaplan has earned re-election based on past legislation as well as her positions on current issues led by COVID-19.

Kaplan has correctly placed blame on President Donald Trump’s epic mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning with his refusal to disclose the threat posed by the coronavirus to the public.

In a debate hosted by Blank Slate Media, Franklin said Trump “did a good job under the circumstances.”

And like other Republican candidates, he gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo more blame than Trump, citing Cuomo’s executive order to allow COVID-19 positive cases to return to nursing homes.

Cuomo’s handling of COVID-19 positive seniors and nursing homes is a legitimate issue.

But in no way does it compare to Trump’s mishandling of virtually every aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Especially in a state that as of Sunday had experienced 488,000 infections and 32,959 deaths – including 48,494 infections in Nassau County and 2,208 deaths.

Not to mention the financial toll on businesses, residents and the state’s finances, which now face a $14.5 billion hole.

As we have said in other races for statewide office, this is the most important issue and misreading – or misstating it – is disqualifying for that candidate.

Franklin also incorrectly blamed both Republicans and Democrats in Washington for the lack of additional stimulus money when Republican senators should have been held accountable.

He did speak with passion of the lives at stake in the deliberations in Washington and the threat to small businesses.

He also offered two specifics on what could be cut to address the revenue lost by the state – looking at the so-called Hollywood tax credit to attract production on Long Island and an oft-stated call to reduce fraud and abuse in Medicaid.

Kaplan offered no specifics, saying that Democrats are discussing ways to address the $14.5 billion hole and “that nothing is off the table.” She also called for the federal government to aid New York after being in the epicenter of the pandemic early on and contributing much more money in tax money than it receives.

She is correct that the federal government should help the state, but it is not something New Yorkers can bank on with this president and the Republican-controlled Senate.

Franklin did seem genuine when he said he always supported the aims of Black Lives Matter and had “always been color blind.”

But then he offered false information about the Black Lives Matter movement in his opposition to the group, saying if you click on the donate button on the Black Lives Matter website, it asks you to donate to “left-learning Democrats.” It doesn’t.

In fact, right beneath the donate button is a call to help fight disinformation, noting that “Black Lives Matter is a central target of disinformation and you are a key line of defense. Report suspicious sites, stories, ads, social accounts, and posts about BLM.”

Franklin also said that he believed “racism isn’t as widespread as people think.”

Kaplan said she attended Black Lives Matter rallies that were peaceful and they allowed her to witness “the pain the entire community has gone through and is going through.”

She also defended her vote for a budget resolution that made some problematic changes to the state’s bail system, noting the revisions approved in April.

Franklin said he would scrap the bail reforms in their entirety, returning the system to one in which nearly 70 percent of people in jail were there because they could not afford bail, a system that affected people of color disproportionately.

Kaplan has a stronger handle on the issues than Franklin and a good record of advocacy as chair of the small business subcommittee in the state Senate.

For those reasons, we strongly endorse Kaplan for re-election in the 7th Senate District.