Sierra Club Endorsements
This is a reminder that the General Election is on Tuesday, November 7th! The Sierra Club Long Island Group is proud to endorse many environmental leaders in this upcoming election.
The Sierra Club's grassroots volunteer activists considered candidates' records, reviewed responses to our questionnaire, and interviewed those willing to meet with us. Our list of those we have endorsed in Long Island races is below. If you'd like to get involved in one of the races in your area, reach out to the campaign today! Contacts for each campaign can be found here.
SIERRA CLUB LONG ISLAND CANDIDATES RECOMMENDED FOR ENDORSEMENT
Debra Mulé (Dem.) – Nassau Co. Legislature Dist. 6: Mulé has served in the Nassau County Legislature since 2018. She has been a strong supporter of the soon-to-be completed Bay Park Conveyance Project, which will redirect treated wastewater from the Bay Park Treatment Facility for several miles to the Cedar Creek Treatment Facility outfall pipe, thereby significantly improving water quality and the health of marshlands in Reynolds Channel and the Western Bays and protecting nearby coastal communities from storm surges and sea level rise. Mulé has actively worked to increase infrastructure resiliency, reduce the use of plastics and other solid waste, including Styrofoam and single-use shopping bags, and protect and expand public open space. Among her open space initiatives, she has spearheaded efforts to convert the blighted former Oakwood Beach Club to a community park and create a small botanical garden at the Brookside Preserve.
Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (Dem.) – Nassau Co. Legislature Dist. 11: DeRiggi-Whitton has been a member of the Nassau County Legislature since 2012. Throughout her tenure, she has worked to protect Nassau County’s water resources. She helped to secure funding for major sewer expansion projects in several communities, including Glen Cove and Sea Cliff, and for the County program that helps property owners replace obsolete septic systems with state-of-the-art advanced wastewater treatment systems. She has also helped to obtain funds to address the waste contamination that has resulted in extended closures of Glen Cove’s Crescent Beach. DeRiggi-Whitton is a strong supporter of clean renewable energy. She is sponsoring legislation that will facilitate a significant increase in the installation of solar panels on County properties and she was a leader in the passage of bipartisan legislation banning the sale and use of products made from fracking waste materials.
Joshua Lafazan (Dem.) – Nassau Co. Legislature Dist. 18: Lafazan has served in the Nassau County Legislature since 2018. He has been a strong proponent of various initiatives to reduce the amount of solid waste that is generated in Nassau County, protect the County’s water resources, and meet the challenges of climate change. He recently introduced a bill that would require Nassau County to achieve carbon neutrality in its governmental operations by January 1, 2035. He is working to enact code changes that will increase the energy efficiency of new buildings and increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the County. He supports “smart growth” development projects that will create sustainable and walkable communities and housing affordable to a range of income groups, particularly around transit hubs, and the creation of “complete streets” in downtown areas that provide safe and convenient access to all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.
Joseph Saladino (Rep.) – Oyster Bay Town Supervisor: Saladino has served as the Oyster Bay Town Supervisor since 2017 and has been a strong environmental advocate. His administration is continuing to work on cleaning up a number of polluted sites within the Town, including the former U.S. Navy / Grumman research and manufacturing facilities, which have severely contaminated nearby soil and groundwater, and Bethpage Community Park. In cooperation with several educational institutions, the Town has begun growing and harvesting sugar kelp in local waterways, which reduces nitrogen in the water and, after harvesting, is used as a chemical-free fertilizer on Town golf courses and parkland. The Town has also created a Dune Stabilization Project, which uses Town staff and volunteers to plant dune grass on local beaches, thereby helping to stabilize and protect the Town’s shoreline and barrier island from storm surges and high winds.
Jon Kaiman (Dem.) – North Hempstead Town Supervisor: Kaiman has had a long career in public service, presently serving as Deputy Executive of Suffolk County. He previously served as North Hempstead Town Supervisor, head of New York State’s Superstorm Sandy cleanup and recovery effort, and Chair of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority. As Suffolk Deputy Executive, Kaiman is leading the project, now underway, to construct a state-of-the-art wind energy training facility in Brentwood, which will provide training in critical areas such as wind turbine and blade maintenance and repair, with funding from the State and the off-shore wind industry. In his previous tenure as North Hempstead Town Supervisor, he secured State grants that were used to restore wetlands in Mill Pond and Hempstead Harbor Cove in Port Washington, he initiated the Sheets Creek Clean Up, which led to the removal of 192 tons of debris from that waterway, and he started Long Island’s first Composting Cooperative, which distributed more than 1,000 composting tumblers to Town residents. If elected again as Town Supervisor, Kaiman will focus on expanding sewer hook-ups, holding industrial polluters accountable for the clean-up of a toxic plume that is threatening the Town’s water supply, and hastening the Town’s transition to energy sustainability.
Catherine Kent (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 1: Kent has had a lifelong commitment to public service. Following a 33-year career teaching in Riverhead public schools, she served several years on the Riverhead Town Council. As a Town Councilperson she formed the first Riverhead Town Environmental Committee, which is made up of community members with expertise in various environmental areas and serves as a resource for conservation and environmental stewardship by the Town and its residents. The Committee helped to establish Riverhead as a New York State Climate Smart Community. In addition, Kent spearheaded the creation of the Riverhead Downtown Revitalization Committee, which produced a downtown master plan with a number of recommendations for sustainability, particularly in connection with the flooding that frequently occurs in the downtown area along the Peconic River. If elected to the Suffolk Legislature, she will work to implement the aggressive renewable energy goals embodied in the State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, shield the County’s fragile coastal areas from the impacts of climate change, and protect the County’s precious surface and drinking water resources.
Ann Welker (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 2: Welker has served on the Southampton Board of Trustees since 2018, with responsibility for protecting and managing the Town’s shores, waterways, marshes and bottomlands. As a Trustee, she has been involved in a number of water quality projects, including the securing of permits from the New York State DEC and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing a channel to be dug from Mecox Bay to the ocean in order to facilitate increased tidal exchange and improved water quality. As a result, Mecox Bay contains the healthiest and largest wild oyster population in Southampton and its commercial oyster harvest has become a significant economic driver for the region. If elected to the Suffolk Legislature, Welker will work to reduce the nitrogen pollution threatening the County’s drinking and surface waters by increasing the installation of advanced septic systems and building new sewers, continue the County’s transition to renewable energy, and protect and expand the County’s open space resources.
Steve Englebright (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 5: Englebright served in the New York State Assembly for many years, where he was a forceful and effective advocate on environmental issues and was Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Conservation. He is now seeking to return to the Suffolk County Legislature, where he began his political career in 1983. In the State Assembly, Englebright sponsored and vigorously supported a number of important environmental laws, including the “Green Amendment” to the State Constitution, which gives State residents the right to clean air and water and a healthful environment, the landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which commits the State to an aggressive set of goals to address the effects of climate change, and the $4.2 billion Environmental Bond Act, which received strong voter approval last year. In the Suffolk Legislature, he will fight to protect the County’s precious ground and surface waters and continue his longstanding campaign to expand, preserve and improve open space resources.
Dorothy Cavalier (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 6: Cavalier is an attorney and presently serves as Chief of Staff for Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker. In that position she has worked on a number of environmental initiatives, including legislation imposing a County-wide ban on the release of helium or other lighter-than-air balloons, which ultimately litter open spaces and waterways, entangle boat motors and harm marine life, County acquisition of land adjacent to Chandler Estate in Mount Sinai for use as public open space, the County’s Septic Improvement Program, which provides grants to property owners who replace aging cesspools and septic systems with advanced wastewater treatment systems that curtail nitrogen pollution, and a grant enabling the Town of Brookhaven to upgrade the septic systems at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. If elected to the County Legislature, Cavalier will work on initiatives to expand and hasten the County’s transition to renewable energy, including additional solar installations on County property and electrification of the County’s vehicle fleets as well as the LIRR’s Port Jefferson branch.
Ryan McGarry (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 7: McGarry previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Suffolk Co. Executive Steve Bellone and is presently Chief of Staff for the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees. In these positions, he has worked to advance a number of water quality initiatives, including various sewer projects and funding for advanced septic systems, as well as the State Legislature’s recent passage of the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act, which will create a dedicated fund for additional water quality projects, to be financed by a 1/8% increase in the county’s sales tax, subject to its approval in a county-wide referendum. McGarry is a strong advocate for other vital infrastructure projects, including the Connect Long Island initiative, which will improve interconnectivity between the county’s rail, bus, ferry and airport services, and renewable energy projects. He has served on the Village of Patchogue’s Community Development Board and Zoning Board of Appeals and strongly supports sustainable development that creates transit-oriented, walkable communities.
Derek Stein (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 10: Stein has held several staff positions in the Suffolk County Legislature and currently works in the office of Legislator Al Krupski. Among his responsibilities in the Legislature, he managed the County’s Marine Industry Revitalization Advisory Council, working with off-shore wind companies and residents to resolve issues surrounding the siting of off-shore wind infrastructure. Stein strongly supports all types of renewable energy and, if elected to the Legislature, he will focus on resolving bureaucratic delays that have slowed the installation of solar energy panels and electric vehicle charging equipment on both County and private property. His top environmental priority is the protection of Suffolk County’s water resources. If elected, he will work to implement the dedicated funding for County water quality projects authorized by the Suffolk County Water Quality Restoration Act and obtain funding to clean up contaminated water at MacArthur Airport and in Lake Ronkonkoma.
Jason Richberg (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 15: Richberg has served in the Suffolk County Legislature since 2020. He states that protecting the water resources in his district and throughout the County is his top priority and he has worked diligently to expand sewer service to his constituents. He helped to obtain federal and state funding for the ongoing Carlls River Watershed Sewage Project, which is providing sewer connections to several thousand homes in Deer Park, West Babylon, North Babylon and Wyandanch. He also worked with County and Town of Babylon officials on the Wyandanch Rising project, which brought a number of infrastructure improvements, including sewer service, to the Wyandanch business district for both environmental and economic development purposes. Richberg strongly supports Long Island’s transition to renewable energy and he will work to ensure that local communities receive training for employment in renewable industries. He is also committed to improving the climate resiliency of the vulnerable communities within his district in an environmentally sensitive manner.
Eve Meltzer-Krief (Dem.) – Suffolk Co. Legislature Dist. 18: Meltzer-Krief has had a long career as a pediatrician and is the Legislative Advocacy Chair of the Long Island-Queens-Brooklyn Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In that position, she advocated for passage of the State Environmental Bond Act, the Birds and Bees Protection Act, and environmental justice for the economically disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by air and water pollution and climate change. As a Suffolk County Legislator, Meltzer-Krief will work to educate citizens and public officials about the immediate and long-term public health consequences of climate change and environmental toxins, particularly for children. She will also advocate for tax and other incentives for renewable energy and water quality improvements, updates to building and sanitation codes to protect communities from the impacts of climate change and expanded testing to ensure the safety of the County’s water supply.
Kathee Burke-Gonzalez (Dem.) – East Hampton Town Supervisor: Burke-Gonzalez has served on the East Hampton Town Board since 2014. With her active support, the Town has adopted a Comprehensive Energy Vision with a goal of satisfying all of the Town’s electricity demand with renewable energy. In furtherance of that goal, she worked to grant the required Town approvals for the South Fork Wind off-shore wind farm and to overcome the opposition of some residents to the installation of the project’s underground transmission line in the Town. Burke-Gonzalez has been involved in a number of initiatives to protect and improve the Town’s water resources, including the completion and adoption of a Town-wide Waste Water Management Plan, the creation of a Water Quality Technical Advisory Committee to review and recommend water quality improvement projects, the mandating of low nitrogen sanitary systems in all new building construction and substantial reconstruction, and the Town’s acquisition of hundreds of acres of property to protect critical groundwater recharge lands and fragile shoreline areas.
Daniel Panico (Rep.) – Brookhaven Town Supervisor: Panico has served on the Brookhaven Town Board since 2010. During his Town Board tenure, he has been a forceful advocate in support of the 924 MW Sunrise Wind off-shore wind project, which will land its power cable in his Brookhaven council district. He has also worked successfully to have solar power arrays, battery storage facilities and EV charging stations installed on a number of Town-owned parcels. Panico was a leader in the successful effort to expand the boundaries of the Pinelands Core Preservation Area, which will help protect the Carmans River, a vital open space and recreational resource located in Brookhaven. He has also supported the Town’s purchase of a number of shoreline parcels that are particularly vulnerable to the rising water levels and more frequent and intense storms associated with climate change. With respect to solid waste, he has worked to increase recycling rates and the promotion and expansion of markets for recyclable materials.
Al Krupski (Dem.) – Southold Town Supervisor: Krupski has had a long career in public service, including tenure on the Town of Southold’s Board of Trustees and its Town Board. Since 2014, he has been a member of the Suffolk County Legislature, where he has demonstrated a strong commitment to environmental protection. As a County Legislator, he worked with the Long Island Commission for Aquifer Protection to advance a coordinated, regional approach to the management of Long Island’s groundwater in order to protect this vital resource, played a leading role in establishing and implementing programs for the testing and installation of advanced wastewater treatment in the County, and successfully fought efforts to enact legislation allowing the County to divert money from voter-approved farmland and open space preservation uses to its general fund. As Southold’s Town Supervisor, Krupski will work to curtail the rapid overdevelopment occurring in the Town, preserve agricultural and public open space resources and implement the Town’s transition to renewable energy in an equitable and environmentally sensitive manner.
Carol Russell (Dem.) – Brookhaven Town Council: Russell has had a varied career, working as a critical care nurse, an attorney representing healthcare providers and the operator of a flower growing business on her family-owned farm in Coram. She has also been active as a volunteer mentoring women who are entering or re-entering the workforce. Russel states that one of the critical issues facing Brookhaven is the future of the Town landfill, which receives large amounts of incinerator ash and construction debris but is rapidly reaching its capacity and will soon have to close. She wants to work on a comprehensive post-closure plan that includes stabilizing the landfill so that it does not threaten the aquifer that sits below it, cleaning up the site and repurposing it for a recreational or other public purpose, assisting the predominantly low-income neighborhoods adjacent to the landfill, which have been negatively impacted by its operation, and establishing a regional framework for the handling of solid waste that emphasizes recycling. She also wants to focus on protecting the Town’s extensive coastline from the rising water levels and more frequent and intense storms associated with climate change and would support a program to purchase and remove structures on particularly sensitive coastal properties, including those on eroding bluffs overlooking Long Island Sound.
Gwynn Schroeder (Dem.) – Southold Town Council: Schroeder has served for the last 10 years as a legislative aide to Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, representing him on various committees and forums, including the Legislature’s Renewable Energy and LIPA Oversight Committees, the Peconic Estuary Partnership and the Long Island Coalition for Aquifer Protection. She has also served as an employee or officer of various non-governmental organizations, including the North Fork Environmental Council, Friends of Long Island Sound and the North Fork Audubon Society. As a member of the Southold Town Council, Schroeder will work to increase the climate resiliency of the Town’s 150 miles of coastline in an environmentally responsible manner, protect its sole-source aquifer, which is threatened by toxic chemicals and salt-water intrusion, strengthen municipal zoning and other codes in order to protect the Town and its open spaces from the intense development that has occurred in recent years, and expand and hasten the installation of solar power and other renewable energy infrastructure on appropriate sites.
Michael Iasilli (Dem.) – Southampton Town Council: Iasilli has been engaged in political advocacy and organizing for a number of years and currently works as a legislative aide to Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming. He has also taught Political Science and History at several area colleges and he recently received a Ph.D. in History from St. John’s University. As a legislative aide, Iasilli has been involved in a number of environmental initiatives. He worked on the rollout of Suffolk County’s first micro-transit bus program, called Suffolk Transit On Demand, which provides low-cost, app-based bus service between Sag Harbor and Southampton Villages. He worked with public officials and interest groups to enact legislation that prevented PSEG from drilling a utility pipeline through environmentally sensitive land within the Long Pond Greenbelt in Sag Harbor. In addition, he is helping to oversee the recently created Renewable Energy Jobs Task Force, which will develop strategies to harness State and Federal funds to create well-paying jobs and tap Suffolk County’s manufacturing resources with respect to clean energy. If elected to the Southampton Town Council, Iasilli will focus on protecting the Town’s water and open space resources in the face of strong development pressures.
Don McKay (Dem.) – Huntington Town Council: McKay presently serves as Deputy Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, with responsibility for the management of over 50,000 acres of parkland, which includes marinas, golf courses, campgrounds, bay and ocean beaches and an extensive trail network. He previously served as the Town of Huntington’s Director of Parks and Recreation. In that role, he oversaw the drafting and voter approval of two Open Space Bond Acts, which provided millions of dollars for the Town’s acquisition and improvement of public open space. If elected to the Huntington Town Council, McKay will fight to more tightly regulate and curtail the intensive property development occurring in the Town, which is degrading shoreline areas, generating excessive traffic and threatening ground water. He will also push for the installation of additional renewable energy facilities and electric vehicle charging stations in the Town and fight to ensure that the Town receives its fair share of Suffolk County funding for open space resources.
Anne Smith (Dem.) – Southold Town Council: Smith had a long career in public education, serving as a teacher, principal and superintendent in several Suffolk County school districts before retiring in 2018. Since retiring, she has served on a number of community-based organizations, focusing on education, law enforcement, housing and the environment. As President of the Mattituck Laurel Civic Association, she planned and hosted forums, in collaboration with County officials, to educate members and the public on the benefits of Innovative/Alternative Septic Systems and she worked with Suffolk County and private groups to garner public support for initiatives to preserve agricultural and public open space resources. As a member of the Southold Town Council, Smith will work to control the rapid real estate development occurring in the Town, which threatens to overtax its infrastructure and reduce open space. She will also work to protect and improve the Town’s water resources and enhance coastal resiliency with a focus on natural forms of protection from erosion and flooding.