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State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) has served six terms in the state Legislature following a special election in 1999 and has put education and employment at the top of her to-do list should she be elected for another term in November.
“This session has to focus on the economy and job creation,” she said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers.
Stavisky is running against Oakland Gardens businessman and lawyer John Messer for a seat that was redrawn this spring to encompass neighborhoods including Flushing, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Fresh Meadows and Bayside.
Stavisky, the ranking member on the Senate Committee on Higher Education and the author of 13 bills this term, has made passing the state Dream Act a legislative priority. The law would allow undocumented youngsters living in New York to apply for the state’s tuition assistance program. The bill has been stymied in the Senate and has never been brought to a vote.
Stavisky also touted the merits of a bill called Power for Jobs, which provided low-cost power to about 500 businesses in the state as a good way to jump-start the economy. The law was first passed in 1997 and renewed on a yearly basis by the Legislature, but this spring Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an updated version of the bill called Recharge New York.
The lawmaker also supports raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 and then tie any further increases to consumer spending, a process she contends will expand the economy.
Stavisky is not in favor of term limits and has said on several occasions that elections serve the function of term limits. She is also opposed to charter schools.
On the issue of hydraulic fracturing, Stavisky said the state should study the process more before lifting a ban, although Cuomo is soon expected to announce whether or not he will allow the controversial practice to release petroleum in a select number of upstate counties.
The lawmaker hopes to encourage more private-public partnerships like the technology campus slated for Roosevelt Island, and believes the Willets Point redevelopment project will bring much-needed economic activity to the area.
As far as education, Stavisky hopes to get back the city’s fair share of state dollars.
Stavisky often digresses from policy questions to attack her opponent’s past as a registered Republican and as the head of a mortgage company involved in a criminal identity theft case. But Stavisky has come under fire for several issues as well during the campaign.
Messer has claimed he has documents proving Stavisky has never hired a staffer of Asian descent in more than a decade of representing a district that includes downtown Flushing, though the senator denies the charges and said she hired her first South Asian staffer about five years ago, with many more coming aboard since.
Stavisky also pointed out that while the district is considered a majority Asian seat now, the district had a much smaller Asian population the way it was drawn before.
Messer also contends that when discretionary funding was still available for state legislators, she neglected senior centers that serve a large number of Asian residents. Stavisky denies this charge as well, saying that all senior centers she gave to served the Asian population.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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