STATE RACES
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 31
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

Far Rockaway, Rosedale, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, South Ozone Park

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS
Take a look at all the latest results for the November 5, 2002 general election.

x-Michele R. Titus (Dem) 11,111 - 86 percent
Marina Rejas (Rep) 1,039 - 8 percent
Michael Duvalle (Ind) 569 - 4 percent
Bryan J. Block (Con) 174 - 1 percent

Candidates:

  • Bryan Block (Con)
  • Michael Duvalle (Ind)
  • Marina Rejas (Rep)
  • Michele R. Titus (Dem/Lib/Wor) Incumbent


BIOGRAPHIES

Michael Duvalle (Ind), a Guyanese native, has lived in the Rockaways since 1971. He received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from SUNY at Old Westbury and is currently the President of Justice for the Wrongfully Accused.

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Henrietta Fullard (Dem) is a native of Kingtree, South Carolina where she graduated from Carolina State College. She later received a Master of Arts Degree in Science Education from the Teacher's College of Columbia University and began a lifelong career with the New York City Board of Education as a teacher and principal. Fullard is currently serving as the pastor of the Bethel AME Church in Arverne, New York. She is a member of numerous community, civic and fraternal organizations including the Community Planning Board 14, St. John's Episcopal Hospital Advisory Board, The New York Ministerial Alliance and Habitat for Humanity Queens Chapter.

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Charles Pringle, Jr. (Dem) received his B.A. in Criminal Justice from St. John's University and his J.D. from CUNY School of Law. After graduating from law school he worked for the District Attorney's Office in the Bronx. He left the D.A.'s office in March of this year and has since been in private practice. As a teenager, Mr. Pringle was sworn in by Mayor Dinkins to the Youth Commission on Human Rights.

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Taj Rajkumar (Dem) is a native of Guyana who immigrated to the United States over 20 years ago. He obtained his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Louisiana State University and returned to New York to begin a career in higher education. Mr. Rajkumar was the dean of students at the New York Institute of Technology and has been a faculty member of the Borough of Manhattan College for 14 years.

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Assemblymember Michele R. Titus (Dem) was raised in Southeast Queens. She attended Albany Law School, and has served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to State Senator Ada Smith. Titus was also the director of the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. Titus, the incumbent in this race, has been in office since last April when she was elected in a special election against Michael Duvalle, running on the Independence line. She filled the unexpired term of Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, who died earlier this year.

7 BILLS IMPORTANT TO NEW YORK CITY RESIDENTS THAT YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE IS LIKELY TO VOTE ON IN THE NEXT TERM:

1. Rent Regulation: The current rent regulation laws expire in June 2003. Supporters of rent regulation hope that the current provisions will be extended for another five years and that the legislature will repeal the provision which deregulates apartments that rent for $2,000 or more a month. The State Assembly passed such a bill this year, but it died in the Senate in the face of opposition from Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. If the Legislature does not take concerted action in June, rent regulation in New York City will end.

In 2002 Assemblymember Arroyo voted in favor of repealing vacancy decontrol, the law that permits landlords to increase rent 18 percent automatically whenever a tenant moves out.

2. Commuter Tax: In 1999, when the State Legislature repealed the Commuter Tax, the city's economy was good. Reinstatement of the Commuter Tax is likely to come up again this Spring as the City's economy takes a turn for the worse.

In 1999 Assemblymember Arroyo voted in favor of repealing the commuter tax.

3. School Funding: Even with mayoral control of the school system, more than 40 percent of New York City's school funding comes from Albany. Next year's budget will determine how much money New York City's schools will get from the state.

4. Rockefeller drug laws: New York's drug laws, passed in 1973 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller, are among the harshest in the nation. The Democratic-controlled Assembly, Republican-controlled Senate, and the Governor have not been able to agree on how to reform these laws, look for renewed negotiations and new legislation in the next term.

5. Minimum Wage: Currently set at $5.15 an hour, Democrats will likely propose raising the minimum wage to $6.75 an hour, a proposal that passed the Assembly, but failed to ever get to the floor of the Senate last year.

Raising Minimum Wage - vote on A5132
In 2002 Assemblymember Arroyo voted in favor of raising the minimum wage.

6. Sexual Orientation Non Discrimination Act: This has been floating around the New York State Legislature for 30 years, with the Governor's support, it is likely to come up for a vote again next Spring.

7. Campaign Finance Reform: Some 80 organizations have proposed a "Clean Money, Clean Elections" bill for the New York State Legislature. Like the New York City law, it would establish a system under which candidates who comply with limits on campaign spending and contributions Last year, Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a bill to provide two-to-one public matching of campaign contributions. The bill passed the Assembly, but it died in the Senate in the face of opposition from Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

In 2002 Assemblymember Arroyo was absent for the vote on public matching of campaign contributions.


HOW SOME ORGANIZATIONS RANKED ASSEMBLYMEMBER MICHELE R. TITUS:

EMPIRE STATE PRIDE AGENDA

Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act

The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act adds actual or perceived sexual orientation to the state's existing laws which prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and credit on the basis of age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, disability or marital status.

Pride Agenda's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

Hate Crimes Act

The Hate Crimes Act enhances criminal penalties for a long list of crimes in which perpetrators intentionally select a target based on the victim's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation. The Hate Crimes Act also requires the state to collect, analyze and annually report on data regarding hate crimes throughout the state.

Pride Agenda's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

THE BUSINESS COUNCIL OF NEW YORK STATE

Comparable Worth Bill

This bill enacts the "New York State Fair Pay Act" which declares it unlawful to discriminate between employees of different sexes for work that is of comparable worth.

BC of NYS Position: OPPOSITION
Michele R. Titus's Position: SUPPORT

Act to Increase State Minimum Wage

This act amends the labor law, raising state minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.75 an hour as of January 1, 2003.

BC of NYS Position: OPPOSITION
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

NEW YORK STATE AFL-CIO

Act to Amend the Retirement and Social Security Law regarding Age of Retirees

This act decreases the age at which public retirees may re-enter public employment without losing any of their benefits from 70 to 65.

AFL-CIO's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

Act to Amend the Labor Law regarding Employer Responsibilities

This act stipulates that the failure to post a statement of wage rates and supplements at any job site shall be regarded as a misdemeanor and subject to a civil penalty. It requires maintenance of "sign-in" and "sign-out" sheets upon the request of the fiscal officer.

AFL-CIO's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

FAMILY PLANNING ADVOCATES OF NEW YORK STATE

Emergency Contraception for Rape Survivors Act

This act requires hospitals to provide information on emergency contraception and, upon request of a rape survivor, to distribute emergency contraception to rape survivors during emergency treatment.

Family Planning Association of New York's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

Contraceptive Coverage Equality Act

This act requires health and accident insurance policies that provide coverage for prescription drugs to cover the costs of contraceptives prescribed by a healthcare provider authorized to prescribe drugs according to the education laws.

Family Planning Association of New York's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE

Immigrant Healthcare Act

This measure allows aliens to receive medical assistance with less difficulty and calls for state reimbursement of certain medical assistance and family health plus costs incurred on behalf of certain aliens.

Family Planning Association of New York's Position: SUPPORT
Michele R. Titus's Position: NO VOTE


PRIMARY ELECTION - SEPTEMBER 10, 2002

Candidates:
  • Bryan Block (Con)
  • Henrietta Fullard (Dem)
  • Michael Duvalle (Ind)
  • Charles Pringle, Jr. (Dem)
  • Taj Rajkumar (Dem)
  • Marina Rejas (Rep)
  • Michele R. Titus (Dem/Lib/Wor - Primary Winner) Incumbent

CAMPAIGN FEATURE

When she defeated her opponents in a special election last April to fill the seat of the late Pauline Rhodd-Cummings, Michelle R. Titus, said she hoped her victory would discourage other Democrats from running in this September's primary.

It didn't work.

Five candidates are opposing her in the primary. And though this is no longer a special-election, each of the candidates is working to establish his or her dedication to the legacy of Assemblymember Rhodd-Cummings, who was instrumental in securing subway and educational funding for the Far Rockaway area, and who focused on developing a technology program in the Far Rockaway area.

Since her election, Titus says, she has poured half her capital budget into seeing that project, the 6200 Project, come to fruition.

But her opponents say the new incumbent has not yet proved her commitment to the community.

"I would have been more visible in the community and accessible to its members," said Charles Pringle Jr., of Titus's performance.

The Rev. Henrietta Fullard also questioned Titus's connections in the community, saying she believes her own strong ties as a pastor and former educator are what will help her in this race.

According to Titus, who ran for office during the second trimester of her pregnancy and was elected in her ninth month, she has been as active as possible during these four months. Since her election, she says, she has sat down with every community-based organization in the district. Since April, Titus has also formed a Community Advisory Board, which she hopes will give community members a greater voice.

THE ISSUES

There is little apparent disagreement on the issues. All six candidates say they support the reinstitution of the commuter tax, would have voted yes on the women's health act, especially with recent studies reporting high levels of cancer incidence in the area, and will support hate crimes legislation. All six think the process in Albany eventually gets the job done, but could use some tweaking to make it more efficient.

EDUCATION

The most pressing issue in the district, all six candidates say, is education reform, with overcrowded schools, one of the largest populations of transient students, and not enough resources.

Fullard has the strongest track record in education. She has taught thousands of high school students in Southeast Queens, participated in the restructuring of the former Andrew Jackson High School into four magnet high schools, and was project director of the Mathematics, Science Research and Technology Magnet High School. Titus points to her three years as an attorney for the NYC Board of Education and Taj. Rajkumar to his extensive experience in higher education.

All six support the mayor's control of schools to varying degrees. Charles Pringle is strongly opposed to the removal of the school board and would like to see a system put in place that would retain parents as an integral part of the decision making process. Fullard agreed that parents must remain an integral part of the system, saying her own efforts would have been much more difficult had parents not played a role.

DEVELOPMENT

Far Rockaway is rapidly developing, with new homes being built and new business coming into the community at a fervent pace.

Pringle cites partnerships between the private and public sector as one of his major campaign goals, listing business subsidies and tax incentives as tools for success. He also hopes to find a way to commit new businesses to hiring from the Far Rockaway employee pool.

For the past several months, Titus says, she has been organizing a Merchant's Association to protect the smaller businesses in the district from being enveloped by the growth.

Michael Duvalle points to his own background as a long-time businessman in Queens.

September 7, 2002

When Michelle R. Titus won a special election for a seat in the Assembly in April, she predicted that despite the decisiveness of her victory, she would face tough competition later in the year in the Democratic primary. Her prediction has come true, and then some. (New York Times)

August 29, 2002

The race for the Assembly seat in the 31st District is beginning to heat up, with several candidates filing petitions to be on the ballot in the September Primary. The candidates vying for the seat, which is currently held by Michele Titus, are from the same field that opposed Titus in a special election that was held back on April 16 of this year. (The Wave of Long Island)

Eye On Albany 2002 is a guide to the races for the 91 seats of the New York State Legislature that represent residents of New York City.

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