by Owen Voutsinas-Klose
Democratic members of the New York State Senate, including Nyack’s State Senator David Carlucci, have come under fire from party purists.
Senator Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) has been the target of innuendo and personal attacks from within his own party over his membership in the now defunct IDC (Independent Democratic Conference), which caucused for several years with the GOP majority.
Certain activists, who have for years griped about the IDC, seem to place a higher value on partisan affiliation than actual accomplishments. For Carlucci, who was elected in the GOP wave of 2010, being in the majority has allowed him access to a committee chairmanship in his first term, along with enhanced constituent service staff and grant money for the district. Nyack has reaped the benefits of this firsthand, with Senator Carlucci securing money for everything from the Rockland Pride Center and YMCA to the Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.
Senator Carlucci, who at the time of his election was the youngest member of the State Senate, successfully resisted the urge to turn to partisan politics and instead focused on delivering results for Rockland County. In the meantime, the IDC provided the legislature (already with a defacto GOP majority in the Senate) and Gov. Cuomo the ability to pass sweeping progressive policies, including a $15 minimum wage, same-sex marriage, strict gun control, paid family leave and record funding for schools. A fact casually forgotten by opponents of the senator is that with Senator Simcha Felder of Brooklyn caucusing with the GOP, the IDC did not relegate the Democrats to the minority. Rather, it gave progressives a voice at the table, and the accomplishments of the past eight years are evidence of that.
The IDC was disbanded last April and its members joined the Democratic caucus. With this, Senator Carlucci lost access to constituent funding, shed staff and lost his prime position atop the Senate Social Services committee. This still hasn’t satisfied some on Facebook and in activist groups, who are backing primary challenges to IDC members. Yet upon closer examination, the anti-Carlucci movement is rooted at best in short shortsightedness and at worse naked hypocrisy. The Working Families Party, which endorsed Carlucci challenger and librarian Julie Goldberg, backed Senator Carlucci in all his previous elections. If he was such a hindrance to passing progressive legislation previously, why did he earn their endorsement?
Ms. Goldberg’s website is conspicuously free of any mention of the 2% tax cap, a measure championed by Carlucci that’s held skyrocketing property taxes from driving more taxpayers out of state. She has never held a political office previously, and is remarkably light on policy details except opposition to Carlucci. Meanwhile, with former Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef poised to run against the winner of the Sept 13 Democratic Primary, the 38th district could easily fall into Republican hands in the next election.
I’ve had the opportunity of knowing Senator Carlucci for the past three years, and in high school served as the President of his Student Advisory Committee in addition to interning in his office. I can say without a doubt Senator David Carlucci is a genuine and inspiring figure, and we are lucky to have his impactful leadership representing Rockland County in the NYS Senate. He hasn’t just written speeches about the opioid crisis, he’s brought countless naloxone trainings to save lives. He’s used his influence to pass impactful laws on everything from boating safety and organ donation to equalizing Orangetown property tax rates.
He made a brave decision to put politics aside for the people he represents, and his leadership has reaped dividends for our community. Those calling Senator Carlucci a Republican sympathiser, or “Trump enabler,” are intentionally disingenuous and are in the distinct minority. He is an effective public servant in an era in which there are few, and the lives of millions of New Yorkers are better today thanks to the policies that wouldn’t have been possible without him. Those who value public service above protest politics would be well served to vote for Senator David Carlucci on September 13th in the Democratic primary.
Owen Voutsinas-Klose is a Nyack resident and a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvannia.
See also: Why I’m Excited about Julie Goldberg for State Senate District 38, 9/9/2018