By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott
Luck may be on Julie Killian’s side in the upcoming special election for the 37th State Senate District seat. The office became vacant when incumbent George Latimer ran for Westchester County Executive and won. Killian, the former Deputy Mayor of Rye, knows the 37th District well having run against Latimer in 2016. She garnered 58,000 votes in that election to Latimer’s 73,000.
But last week she won the Republican nomination and is back on the campaign trail.
In an interview at our office this week, she said, “I haven’t lost my passion for the issues and I know the concerns in every community in the District.” (The District stretches across 13 towns and parts of three others across the County from Yonkers to the Sound Shore to Bedford.)
The issue for all remains affordability, Killian stated. And to that end, if elected, she would focus on creating a better environment for small businesses and greater economic opportunity (“The best social program is a job”); push to move administration of Medicaid from the County to the State level; and fight to ensure that schools in the District receive their fair share of state aid. “Long Island schools receive far more benefits than Westchester schools,” she noted.
“My goal is a good quality of life for everyone in the District, not just those who can easily afford to. The best social program is a job,” she added.
To save taxpayer money, Killian is an advocate of getting rid of or significantly amending the Scaffold Law, which was enacted in 1885 to safeguard workers on skyscraper projects. “We have much better engineering and safety measures today and because of this law, which costs New York close to $4 billion a year, many insurance companies won’t do business here.” She informed us that Illinois repealed its Scaffold Law in 1995 and construction-related fatalities decreased by 26 percent over five years.
“There has to be fat in the State budget,” she said, pointing to the fact that New York with 19 million people has a budget of $168 billion, while Florida, which has surpassed New York in population, has a budget of $87 billion.
For those who believe in two-party government, the special election on April 24 is particularly special as the current balance of power in the 63-member chamber. Two seats are open, 31 are held by Democrats, and 30 by Republicans. The Independent Democratic Conference currently caucuses with the Republicans to give them the majority.
The 37th District seat has been held by a Sound Shore resident for decades. Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) served from 1984 until retiring in 2012. Latimer (D-Rye) ran and won his first term that year.
This week Killian came out in support of several measures before the Senate and Assembly that would strengthen protections and rights for sexual assault survivors. “We must have zero tolerance for sexual abuse.”
In a statement to the press, she stressed that there is a distinct contrast between herself and her opponent, Assemblyman Shelley Mayer (D) of Yonkers, in this regard. “As the chief lawyer for the State Senate, Assemblywoman Mayer made the decision to seat Hiram Monserrate after he was elected, even though he had been charged with felony assault for slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken bottle during an argument. She also supported then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s use of taxpayer money to cover up sexual harassment by Vito Lopez, a Brooklyn Assemblyman.”
Ms. Mayer was elected to the Assembly in District 90 in 2012. In 2016, she ran unopposed. She has worked closely with Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Mayer was unavailable for comment before press time.
Whoever wins the special election will serve out the remainder of Mr. Latimer’s term and faces having to run in the regular election in November.