STATE RACES
ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 62
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

New Dorp, Oakwood, Great Kills, Eltingville, Annandale, Huguenot, Pleasant Plains, Prince’s Bay, Cottonville, Roseville.

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

x-Robert A. Straniere (Rep) 14,356 - 64 percent
John S. Mulia (Dem) 8,074 - 36 percent

Candidates:

  • John Mulia (Dem/RTL/Con)
  • Robert A. Straniere (Rep) Incumbent


BIOGRAPHIES

John Mulia (Dem/RTL/Con) is a small businessman who is a longtime resident of Staten Island. Since 1999, he has served as the president of the Great Kills Little League. Mulia, who is a volunteer for the Knights of Columbus, also has worked as a baseball coach at Moore Catholic High School.

Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere (Rep) has been a member of the New York State Senate since 1981. A graduate of Wagner College, he received his law degree from New York University. Straniere was chosen to serve on the Ways and Means Committee as well as on the Rules Committee and Judiciary Committee. Admitted to the New York State Bar, Straniere maintains a law practice in Staten Island and Manhattan.

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 Straniere voted against 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 Commuter Tax: In 1999, when the State Legislature repealed the Commuter Tax, the city's economy was good.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 Straniere voted against the repeal of 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 Straniere 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 Straniere voted was absent for the vote on public matching of campaign contributions.


HOW SOME ORGANIZATIONS RANKED ASSEMBLYMEMBER ROBERT A. STRANIERE:

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
Robert Straniere's Position: SUPPORT

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
Robert Straniere's Position: SUPPORT

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
Robert A. Straniere'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
Robert A. Straniere's Position:SUPPORT

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
Robert A. Straniere's Position: SUPPORT

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
Robert A. Straniere's Position: SUPPORT

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
Robert A. Straniere's Position: SUPPORT

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
Robert A. Straniere's Position: OPPOSE

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
Robert A. Straniere's Position: SUPPORT


PRIMARY ELECTION - SEPTEMBER 10, 2002

Candidates:
  • David Mercaldo (Rep/Wor/Ind)
  • John Mulia (Dem/RTL/Con)
  • Robert A. Straniere (Rep) Incumbent

BIOGRAPHIES

David Mercaldo (Rep) is a teacher at Public School 41 in New Dorp and is an Adjunct Assistant professor at Long Island University. After graduating with a B.S. in education, Mercaldo completed a Master's degree in elementary education, as well as a PH.D in humanities. Mercaldo is a recipient of the New York City Chancellor's Award for School and Community Service, and has written a column "Let's Talk About Kids" for the Staten Island Weekly for the past five years. For two years, he hosted his own television show "Let's Talk About Kids" with CBS affiliate KOTV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mercaldo is a member of the Staten Island Historical Society and the Beaux Arts Alliance, which advocates for the preservation of historic buildings.

John Mulia (Dem/RTL/Con) is a small businessman who is a longtime resident of Staten Island. Since 1999, he has served as the president of the Great Kills Little League. Mulia, who is a volunteer for the Knights of Columbus, also has worked as a baseball coach at Moore Catholic High School.

* * * * *

Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere (Rep) has been a member of the New York State Senate since 1981. A graduate of Wagner College, he received his law degree from New York University. Straniere was chosen to serve on the Ways and Means Committee as well as on the Rules Committee and Judiciary Committee. Admitted to the New York State Bar, Straniere maintains a law practice in Staten Island and Manhattan.


CAMPAIGN FEATURE

UNPLEASANT POLITICS IN PLEASANT PLAINS

Politics on Staten Island is rarely simple, but the race for the Assembly District 62 seat, which pits two unknowns against 12-term incumbent Robert Straniere, is positively Byzantine.

This year, the Republican Party is not endorsing Straniere, but it is also not endorsing his opponent in the Republican primary, David Mercaldo, a local elementary school teacher. Meanwhile, the current borough president, James Molinaro, who beat Straniere last year in the race for Borough Hall running as a Conservative backed by the Republicans, has endorsed a third candidate, John Mulia. Strangely enough, Mulia, though registered as a Conservative, is running on the Democratic line.

Republican animosity towards Straniere stems from his aggressive and overly-ambitious behavior when pursuing higher office, according to an article in the New York Times. Some also have suggested that Straniere, who maintains a law practice in Manhattan, spends more time there than on Staten Island.

For his part, Straniere maintains that what distinguishes him from his peers is his "ability to work with elected officials whether they are Republicans or Democrats."

The withholding of party support does not seem to have fazed the 22-year incumbent, "I'm disappointed," said Straniere, "but I won a primary in 1980 the first time I ran for the Assembly and I'm optimistic that based on my record, Republicans will vote to give me the nomination."

Straniere has received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, as well as the United Federation of Teachers, of which challenger Mercaldo is a longtime member. Said Straniere, "my opponent is a schoolteacher and yet I've received the endorsement of the UFT, being called a strong lifetime friend of education." (Mercaldo refused to be interviewed nor to provide information.)

Education

Commitment to education and the need to reform New York City schools will certainly be an issue important to voters in Assembly District 62.

Straniere has backed a number of bills in the Assembly designed to reform schools, including the legislation that created a school construction fund to repair and rebuild schools all over the city. He also supported Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts to take control of New York City's schools. "I was a strong advocate for reform and change," he says.

Mulia also supports mayoral governance of the schools, but believes the mayor should rely on the school boards. Mulia cites the successful Staten Island school boards as an example for the rest of the city. "Every [borough] has different needs, so you have to take each one individually," said Mulia. "By sitting in an office and trying to run schools, you don't know what the Bronx needs, you don't know what Manhattan needs. Staten Island is a whole lot different than Queens."

Environment

Mulia and Straniere both acknowledged increasing concern with the air quality and the high cancer rates in Staten Island. Straniere cited his support for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to purchase buses that use non-polluting fuels, while Mulia believes there should be more funding to test people for cancer and to help those diagnosed with cancer receive adequate health care.

Albany Initiatives

The candidates also spoke of legislation they would like to see addressed in the Assembly if elected. Straniere believes the commuter tax should be reinstated, for "we could then avoid the potential for an increase in mass transit fares, which would help everybody in the region."

Mulia focused on the selection process for city teachers, stating that it should be looked into, and questioned the process by which funds are allocated to different school districts.

Both candidates feel that improvements must be made to the legislative process in Albany, where bills such as the commuter tax reinstatement and amendments to the Rockefeller drug laws were stalled this year.

Mulia also raised a concern over how long it takes for bills to get passed in the Assembly. He noted specifically a bill introduced by Straniere two years ago designed to increase the safety regulations in Great Kills Harbor where a deadly accident had occurred. The bill was not passed until this year. "How many more people had to die?" asked Mulia.

Straniere calls for instituting a rotation system for the Speaker of the Assembly. "Many legislators around the country rotate the speaker after a number of terms" he said. "Allowing for term limits...for speaker, and one would argue the majority leader of the senate, would bring an important new dynamic to the work of the legislature."

The race for District 62 seems to offer a test of strength both for the Republican factions led respectively by Molinaro (who backs Mulia) and former Borough President Guy Molinari (who is backing Mercaldo); for the power of incumbency; and for the relative weight of the Conservative and Working Families Party lines.

--posted August 16,2002


July 15, 2002

It was two years ago, while he was Staten Island borough president that Guy V. Molinari vowed to have nothing further to do with local politics. And after decades of working in the trenches in nearly every significant Staten Island Republican campaign, he announced that he would sit out any future ones. But that decision to steer clear of local politics seems to have come to an end. So, in an Assembly race on Staten Island's South Shore, Mr. Molinari has endorsed David Mercaldo, an elementary school teacher. It is a particularly notable endorsement because Mr. Mercaldo is running in the Republican primary against Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere, a 22-year incumbent. (New York Times)

July 14, 2002

The United Federation of Teachers has announced its endorsement of Assemblyman Robert Straniere, a blow to challenger and UFT member David Mercaldo. (Staten Island Advance)

July 9, 2002

Embattled GOP South Shore Assemblyman Robert Straniere's campaign has received a boost, with the borough Working Families Party endorsing him for re-election. (Staten Island Advance)

July 5, 2002

New York State Assemblyman Robert A. Straniere, one of the longest-serving Republicans in Albany, has become something of an outcast within his own party. Straniere is heading into his 12th Assembly campaign without a single endorsement from an elected official in the city's most heavily Republican borough. Officials in his party say they have decided to sit this one out, taking the unusual position of not endorsing one of their longest-serving figures. (New York Times)

July 3, 2002

A former Borough Hall administrative assistant is suing Borough President James P. Molinaro, claiming she was fired because she supported his opponent, Assemblyman Robert Straniere, in last year's election. (Staten Island Advance)

 

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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