Senate District 34 - General Election

Endorsed Candidate

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Jeff Klein's Candidate Questionnaire
Age: N/A  Occupation: Senator, NYS Senate

Education: Queens College (BA); Columbia University (MPA); CUNY Law School (JD)

Incumbent State Senator Jeffrey Klein is running for his fourth term in the State Senate after one term in the State Assembly.  He has been extremely active in providing constituent services in his district and states that he is running because he believes a lawmaker can still make a positive difference in people’s lives. Klein has sponsored legislation protecting homeowners from foreclosure; capping property taxes and providing tax credits to property owners who pay a disproportionate percentage of their income in taxes; and increasing public availability of information regarding sexual predators living in public housing.  Should he be re-elected, Klein is promising to increase government transparency and accountability.  He signed on as a co-sponsor of legislation to create an independent redistricting commission and eliminate legislative influence in the process.  Although he also supported in committee a competing bill allowing legislators to have a say in how district lines are drawn, he told Citizens Union that he would oppose that effort, saying it is not a suitable alternative, and that he would champion an independent commission because it would provide better representation.  Klein introduced legislation to create an independent ethics commission to oversee state government, though it did not come to the floor of the Senate for a vote.  He supports a full public matching system for candidates for state office.  Klein also chaired a bipartisan taskforce on government efficiency that investigated five state agencies and recommended, among other things to freeze overtime and pension spiking.  If re-elected, he pledges to reduce wasteful government spending.  Citizens Union believes Klein has been an aggressive and effective legislator in moving legislation and has displayed a strong commitment to reform. For these reasons, Citizens Union supports Jeff Klein’s candidacy for re-election to the State Senate.

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Frank Vernuccio's Candidate Questionnaire

Age: 58  Occupation: Attorney

Education: Fordham University (BA); Hofstra (JD)

State Senate challenger Frank Vernuccio, an attorney, is running on a platform of bringing jobs to New York, slashing taxes, cutting spending, bringing ethics to Albany and reforming public authorities.  Although running with the endorsement of the Bronx and Westchester Republican and Conservative parties, Frank Vernuccio says he is a “post-partisan” candidate who can bring an independent voice to Albany.  He is not funded by the state GOP and says that he is not registered in either major party.  He highlights his nonpartisan service as Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs under Bronx Borough President Freddy Ferrer, a Democrat, and as the Bronx-Manhattan district administrator of the New York State Workers Compensation Board (WCB), appointed by Republican Governor George Pataki in the wake of 9/11.  Vernuccio stated that seeing millions of dollars that went to the WCB after 9/11 being spent on consultants and not on staff or equipment inspires him to work to cut waste and political patronage in state agencies. He says that New York State had been “drastically injured” by public authorities and believes the MTA should be rebuilt from scratch. Vernuccio stated that Senate District 34 is shaped like a “creature from outer space” and he pledged to fight for an independent redistricting commission.  He opposes public financing for state election candidates due to what he calls an uneven application of regulations by the New York City Campaign Finance Board that favors established candidates and penalizes insurgents.  He also supports reform of the ballot process in which arduous regulations knock people off for trivial mistakes and serve as “incumbent protection tools.” Frank Vernuccio seems to be a thoughtful candidate who displays a genuine commitment to non-partisan political reform, but does not rise above the record and experience of the incumbent, Jeffrey Klein, and thus does not receive Citizens Union’s support.