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Source: Southold Local

Environmental group takes a pass in the First Congressional District race

BY DENISE CIVILETTI

Posted: October 28, 2016
Originally Published: October 28, 2016

The New York League of Conservation Voters has decided against making an endorsement in the First Congressional District race this year.

The NY-1 contest was left off the environmental group’s list of candidate endorsements released on Oct. 3. Asked about the omission, communications director Jordan Levine said in an email: “We have not endorsed in this race yet because we are holding a candidate forum between Congressman Zeldin and Anna Throne-Holst on October 18th in Riverhead.”

Yesterday, Levine said the organization’s “board of directors has decided not to make an endorsement in NY-1 this year.”

Asked why they made that decision, the group did not provide an explanation. “We are grateful to both Anna Throne-Holst and Congressman Zeldin for participating in our candidate forum and for engaging in a substantive conversation on the environmental issues facing the East End,” Levine wrote in an email yesterday. “Though we have decided not to endorse, we look forward to working together with the winner of this race to build a more sustainable Long Island.”

Republican incumbent Lee Zeldin and Democratic challenger Anna Throne-Holst appeared at the Oct. 18 candidates’ forum at the culinary school in Riverhead to field questions, one at a time, on environmental issues. Questions were posed by a panel of environmental advocates: Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Kevin McAllister of Defend H20 and Louise Harrison of Save the Sound.

Each candidate answered questions from the panelists, and a few from the audience, for more than 30 minutes, on issues ranging from climate change and sea-level rise to protecting drinking water quality, preserving Plum Island, and restoring the L.I. Sound and Peconic estuaries. NYLCV webcast the forum live on Facebook. Watch the video here.

Spokespersons for the both campaigns yesterday said that their candidates have strong environmental records.

Zeldin spokesperson Jennifer DiSiena cited the congressman’s success in the passage of two bills in the House to stop the sale of Plum Island, his support of “clean and green energy to heat and cool our homes,” passage of a new law to fund water quality programs, his effort to fight a plan to reroute tractor-trailers from I-95 onto local roads and to fight allowing bigger, heavier trucks on local roads. He also supported the expansion of freight rails service on the LIRR, DiSiena said.

Throne-Holst’s campaign manager and spokesperson Andrew Grunwald said the former Southampton supervisor “has a sterling environmental record and has been backed by many environmental groups” including the Sierra Club.

“Zeldin voted for an appropriation bill cutting funding to for the EPA,” Grunwald said. “He’s supported by big oil and he’s supported tax subsidies for big oil,” he said. “For anyone who cares about the environment, the choice is clear.”

NYLCV also chose not to make an endorsement in the Second Assembly District, where Republican Anthony Palumbo is seeking re-election. His Democratic opponent is not actively campaigning.

The organization endorsed State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor).

In the island’s other congressional races, NYLCV picked challenger DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) over incumbent Peter King (R-Seaford) and incumbent Kathleen Rice (D) over David Gurfein (R) in Nassau’s Fourth Congressional District. The group also made no endorsement in the Third Congressional District race, where Tom Suozzi (D) faces Jack Martins (R) for the seat being vacated by incumbent Steve Israel (D).

The N.Y. League of Conservation Voters is a statewide environmental advocacy group that endorses candidates who “demonstrate a strong willingness and capacity to advance” the organization’s pro-environment agenda, according to the NYLCV website.