STATE RACES
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 16
ABOUT EYE ON ALBANY

Flushing, Bay Terrace, Forest Hills, Rego Park

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

x-Toby Ann Stavisky (Dem) 27,580 - 84 percent
Julia Harrison (Ind) 3,800 - 12 percent
Mark Ralin (Con) 1,537 - 5 percent

Candidates:

  • Toby Ann Stavisky (Dem/Wor) Incumbent
  • Julia Harrison (Ind/Lib)
  • Mark Ralin (Con)


BIOGRAPHIES

Senator Toby Ann Stavisky (Dem) was the first woman from Queens County to be elected to the New York State Senate. She attended local public schools before graduating from Bronx High School of Science and Syracuse University. Stavisky completed graduate school at Hunter and Queens Colleges. After working in the actuarial department of a major insurance company, she began teaching in New York City high schools, including Brooklyn Technical, Haaren and Thomas Edison. Stavisky is co-chair of the Minority Task Force on School Aid Equity and serves as the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education. Stavisky also sits on the Committee on Education; Aging; Civil Service and Pensions; Consumer Protection; Investigations, Taxation and Government Operations and Transportation.

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Julia Harrison (Dem), forced out of New York City Council by term limits last year, was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1983 until 1986, when she became a New York City councilmember. As a councilmember, Harrison served on the New York City Council's Committee on Aging. She also has been involved with the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Coalition for a Planned Flushing.

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Marcia Lynn (Dem), is a local civic activist who previously worked in the Giulini administration. She made a name for herself in 1992, advocating for the repair of the then-dilapidated Yellowstone Park. Lynn made headlines in 1993 when she fought to keep Runway 69, a strip club, out of Forest Hills. She is currently employed at the Department of Environmental Protection.

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.

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 Senator Stavisky 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 failed last year.

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 would receive public funds for their political campaigns.

HOW OTHER ORGANIZATIONS RANKED SENATOR TOBY ANN STAVISKY:

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
Toby Ann Stavisky'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
Toby Ann Stavisky's Position: SUPPORT

THE BUSINESS COUNCIL OF NEW YORK STATE

Taxable Status of Nuclear-Powered Electrical Generating Facilities Act

This measure establishes that nuclear powered electric generating facilities must pay property tax.

BC of NYS Position: SUPPORT
Toby Ann Stavisky's Position: SUPPORT

Plumbing Standards

This measure creates a new article in labor laws by providing standards for plumbing materials and makes certain plumbing and piping provisions of the state uniform fire prevention and building code.

BC of NYS Position: OPPOSITION
Toby Ann Stavisky's Position: SUPPORT


PRIMARY ELECTION - SEPTEMBER 10, 2002

Candidates:
  • Toby Ann Stavisky (Dem/Wor - Primary Winner)
  • Julia Harrison (Ind/Lib)
  • Marcia Lynn (Dropped Out)
  • Mark Ralin (Con)

CAMPAIGN FEATURE

GETTING PERSONAL IN QUEENS

Three women, all Democrats, have declared their candidacy for a sometimes viciously personal race in the 16th State Senate District in Queens, which includes Flushing, Bay Terrace, Forest Hills and Rego Park.

Former City Councilmember Julia Harrison, accuses her long-time poltical rival, incumbent Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, of lacking social graces, among other things. Political newcomer Marcia Lynn says that neither of her opponents "[has] done such a great job."

For all the animosity, the candidates largely agree on many of the problems facing the district, including the need to do something about the sad state of the public school system and the lack of affordable housing. All agree as well that the Rockefeller drug laws need to be softened, and the commuter tax reinstated.

Education

School funding is the most pressing educational issue, says Stavisky. "We need proper funding and equitable formulas that don't favor the suburbs at the expense of the city." Furthermore, she believes that the school system suffers from centralized power. "It's terribly unfair when the Senate majority does not distribute funding equitably.... Members from one party can provide all kinds of benefits for their constituents, and when you're in the minority, you get one tenth of the resources." She believes that the committee system should be reinvigorated within the Senate, giving committee chairs more power, and giving every bill at least some discussion.

Harrison would like to see an overhaul of the Regents, the state body that oversees all the school systems. "I am not convinced that the city children are treated fairly, whether it's in this city, in Buffalo, or any other major city in New York, and I think that the changes would have to emanate from the body of the Regents," she says.

Lynn believes that the quality of the school systems is the most important issue facing New York. "The biggest problem is that no one has actually sat down and figured out how much waste we have: you have 100,000 children in the seventh grade; why don't all 100,00 have the same book? If you call up a book manufacturer and order 100,000 books from the same place, you're going to be getting a better price." She champions rooting out inefficiencies and implementing a consistent curriculum among school districts. She also believes that candidates for the local school board should have a child in the school system.

Housing

Noting the need for affordable housing in her community, Lynn says that, if elected, she would push for the creation of another Mitchell-Lama program, which would provide affordable housing for middle income families. "There's plenty of land which can be built upon," she says.

Stavisky also believes new development is crucial, especially for Flushing. "We need to take a look at zoning, take a look at various proposals, perhaps put together an economic summit so this can be discussed with professional planners," she says.

Harrison also believes that housing is an important issue for her district, but offered no specific solutions.

Other Issues

Harrison would work to raise her senate colleague' awareness about the "dire need" of her constituents on "issues that relate to [their] well-being," she says, "basically health care, affordable housing, education." She would also try to improve the legislative process by pushing for a more open attitude in Albany. Issues need to be decided by the entire legislature, she said, not just three men - the governor, the State Senate Leader and Speaker of the State Assembly - who typically hammer out agreements on pending legislation behind closed doors.

Ideas about election reform excite Lynn. "I believe that we should have non-partisan elections. I think it's very detrimental to the petition process, especially in a year where they have redistricted, and completely cut up the neighborhood." She has also stated her position on campaign finance reform. "It's a little sickening that you have to raise $250,000 to run in a race to win a seat that pays $90,000," she says. She does not support the four-to-one matching funds legislation currently pending in the Assembly, believing that the state should not give out such large amounts of money, however, she does support one-to-one matching, with caps on how much can be spent.

Stavisky highlights broader economic issues as part of her campaign. Noting that 1,000 jobs have been lost as a result of the September 11th attacks, the senator emphasized that something needs to be done to keep people in New York and attract new jobs to the city. "We need to provide the kind of quality of life that keeps people in New York, and what keeps people in New York are the schools and a sense of security. We have to look at our tax structure; there are loopholes and inequities in the taxation system and the property tax areas-- we have to do our best to make it easier for people to do business in New York."

Things Get Personal

The candidates rarely miss an opportunity to criticize their opponents.

After her husband, Dr. Leonard Price Stavisky, died in office in June 1999, after having served over 30 years, Toby Stavisky was elected to his seat in the Senate. Harrison says she "[does not] approve of someone walking in just because someone's husband died." Their rivalry extends back to the 1980's, when Harrison easily beat Stavisky in a State Assembly race.

"I would command greater respect from the constituents; I don't perceive that the senator [Stavisky] has the social graces to endear her to her constituents," Harrison says. But Harrison herself has been accused of anti-Asian sentiment, which could be a serious drawback in a district in which 33 percent of the population is Asian.

Lynn has tried to distance herself from her opponents by emphasizing her life experience.

"A lot of people that are elected don't deal with the realities of life. They come from very wealthy backgrounds, so the economy is not going to affect them," she says. "I am a single mother, I raised my kid on my own, and I know what it is to pay for private school."

"We don't have any innovative thinkers in the state legislature, and in my race especially."

The heavily gerrymandered 16th District is the largest in the state with at least 363,000 residents. Some of the candidates believe the population is even higher, since it includes many immigrants who may have avoided the last census count. Ethnically diverse, the population is approximately 43 percent white, 33 percent Asian, and 15 percent Hispanic.

Senate District 16 is really an open seat, claims Lynn, as Stavisky is only an incumbent for 20 percent of the current district. Stavisky has the backing of the powerful Queens Democratic Party. Harrison is endorsed by the Democratic Club of Flushing. Lynn did not seek party support.

--posted August 5,2002

September 2, 2002

For Toby Stavisky, State Senator from Queens, being recognized has particular importance because her opponent in the Democratic primary, former Councilwoman Julia Harrison, represented a portion of the district for 14 years. (New York Times)

June 19, 2002

State Senator Toby Stavisky and former Councilmember Julia Harrison are likely to provide one of the most interesting primaries as they vie for the Democratic nomination in the newly configured 6th Senate district covering the greater Flushing area. Stavisky is the Democratic-endorsed candidate for the post and she will no doubt be supported by the regular organization. The two are set to square off in their first campaign confrontation on June 25, at a candidates night held by the Flushing Forum for the Development of Political leaders. A third candidate seeking the seat, Marcia Lynn of Forest Hills, has also been invited to attend. In one of her latest blasts at Stavisky, Harrison said she didn't approve of a wife succeeding a husband who has passed away. Stavisky fired back that Harrison makes outrageous statements to try to cover up past failures as a lawmaker. (Western Queens Gazette)

May 30, 2002

A local civic activist, instrumental in the closure of a notorious Forest Hills strip club, has announced her candidacy for the 16th Senate District, adding yet another twist to what many political insiders perceive as the borough's most hotly-contested race. Marcia Lynn will face a steep uphill battle against two of the borough's most experienced-- and well connected-- politicians. Lynn said that neither of her opponents have done anything "so outstanding" as to be reelected. (Queens Chronicle)

May 22, 2002

In Flushing, the party voted to back incumbent Senator Toby Stavisky for re-election. Ethel Chen, who lost a Council primary last year to John Liu (D-Flushing), is running on a ticket with former Councilmember Julia Harrison, who is opposing Stavisky in the Senate primary. This will be one of the party organization's toughest pair of races; maximum resistance can be expected from Chen and Harrison. Chen will augment her strength in the Asian American community. (Western Queens Gazette)

May 21, 2002

Former Councilwoman Julia Harrison, who is mounting her own insurgent campaign against State Senator Toby Stavisky, nominated her ally Ethel Chen. Party officials tried to work out a deal with Chen, almost to the last minute, offering her the designation in return for Harrison's dropping out of the race and other concessions. But Chen, well-known in Flushing, refused. (New York Daily News)

May 19, 2002

Harrison has an uphill battle against Stavisky, who will almost certainly have more money and the organization's support. But political insiders are keeping a close eye on the battle between the long-time enemies that has all the makings of a nasty race. (New York Daily News)

May 2, 2002

Former Assemblywoman, recently term-limited Councilwoman, Democratic District Leader and controversial octogenarian Julia Harrison has announced she's running for State Senate against State Senator and District Leader Toby Stavisky. Harrison has criticized Stavisky in the media constantly, saying she only won her seat because her husband Leonard Stavisky died while in office. The two had squared off previously in a bitter 1986 election when Harrison beat Stavisky for the Council. The race is on and its going to be a hot one in Queens. (Queens Tribune)

May 2, 2002

Endorsed by the Democratic Club of Flushing, Harrison announced Saturday that she will run for State Senate in the 16th District. Harrison said she would wait to start her campaign following a Department of Justice ruling to confirm the official lines of the new district. As conceived now, the new district would eliminate part of the current Western Queens neighborhoods and be extended to include most of Daniel Hevesi's central Queens 13th District that takes in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens. Currently, Stavisky represents areas from Flushing to Sunnyside. (Queens Chronicle)

April 25, 2002

In what could be the most fascinating local race of the year, former City Councilwoman Julia Harrison says she is all but certain she will challenge rival Toby Ann Stavisky for her Flushing State Senate seat. Harrison has had a history of controversial statements such as saying that Asians don't vote, and she is apparently not about to stop now. The two fist clashed when they were seeking their party's nomination for an Assembly seat in the early 1980s. Harrison won, and they battled again for City Council, where Harrison clobbered Stavisky. (New York Daily News)

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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