Recap: NY Senate District 1 Forum

October 1, 2020

On September 16th, 2020, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF) held a candidate forum for New York Senate District 1 (SD1), which covers the east end of Suffolk County. This race will decide who will replace longtime State Senator and environmental champion Kenneth LaValle, who is retiring. The forum took place on Zoom ahead of the election on November 3rd. NYLCVEF regularly holds candidate forums to provide voters with the opportunity to hear directly from candidates about their stance on important sustainability issues. The SD1 forum featured Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo and Laura Ahearn. The forum was moderated by Denise Civiletti, who is the Founder, Owner, and Co-Publisher of the Riverhead Local website. 


Anthony Palumbo is a NY State Assemblyman for Assembly District 2. During the forum, he shared his work on the Community Preservation Fund in the State Assembly to improve water quality, address nitrogen pollution, and increase climate resiliency. He suggested passing legislation to encourage businesses, municipalities, and school districts to go renewable, and an additional bill to improve drinking water. Palumbo supports legislation subsidizing septic systems, as well as using offshore wind as an energy source. Palumbo would support legislation banning neonicotinoid-coated seeds, and has pledged to keep the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) fully funded.

Palumbo highlighted his previous success lobbying the MTA to increase train service and emphasized the importance of “last mile” transportation alternatives like electric bicycles. He expressed his desire to continue serving on the Environmental Conservation Committee in the Senate, which he has been part of for seven years. He also hopes to clean up the former Calverton Navy/Grumman Superfund site in Bethpage using state funds, and to secure federal funding for the project if possible. Additionally, he supports wage standards for state-subsidized renewable energy projects. Palumbo stressed the need to teach recycling in schools, and advocated for the pooling of resources across municipalities to allow more people to recycle a greater variety of plastics. In his concluding statement, he emphasized the importance of environmental issues to SD1, owing it to local reliance on a sole-source aquifer for water.

Laura Ahearn is a Licensed Attorney and Social Worker in New York State. During the forum, Ahearn stressed the need for a wide range of legislation, including increased taxes on polluters and fossil fuel providers, as well as anaerobic digestion laws. She supports a bill to protect pollinators by banning neonicotinoid-coated seeds. She is also in favor of combating nitrogen pollution through government-funded land acquisition to protect vulnerable areas (such as the aquifer and estuaries), increased wastewater treatment, and a subsidy and/or tax incentive for local homeowners. Ahearn expressed the need to increase renewable energy production and pledged to keep and increase funding for the EPF.

To reduce car pollution, Ahearn supports introducing incentives for EVs, joining a regional transportation and climate initiative, and electrifying the transit system. She expressed a desire to serve on the Environmental Conservation committee, and pledged to fund septic systems and combat nitrogen pollution. If elected, she would use her post to get the Calverton site cleaned up, emphasizing the population’s need for clean drinking water. After securing 1,000 vulnerable acres of the site, she intends to discuss repurposing the remaining space with the community. Ahearn backs wage standards for renewable energy projects, and would like to combat plastic pollution by introducing a state-wide waste management system, expanding the list of recyclable plastics, creating circular markets for plastics, and instituting restrictions on the sale of toxic materials. In her concluding statement, Ahearn emphasized the need to have strong advocates like herself fight climate deniers. 

Thanks to our partners for helping to make this event a success: Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Climate Jobs NY, Climate Reality Project NY, Group for the East End, and Long Island Farm Bureau. Remember to cast your ballot on November 3rd or take the pledge to vote early this election

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