In the race for Thomas Mc-Kevitt’s vacated seat in the State Assembly’s 17th District, John Mikulin, 30, of Levittown, is running on the Republican ticket against Democratic nominee Matthew Malin, 25, of Seaford, in a special election on April 24.
McKevitt, a Republican, held the seat for 12 years before leaving it to represent District 13 in the Nassau County Legislature. Malin ran against him for the Assembly seat in 2016, and received roughly 37 percent of the vote.
The race heated up at a public forum on April 12 at the East Meadow Public Library, hosted by the League of Women voters. Malin, who is expecting a daughter with his wife, Jennifer, said, “I want [her] to grow up in a safe an nurturing environment that’s open to all people and gives her the best chance to succeed in life, like I was given.”
One of focuses of Malin’s campaign, he added, is keeping millennials on Long Island by creating more affordable housing. He touted his vision of converting commercial property on busy roadways, like Hempstead Turnpike, into two-story residential units.
Mikulin has been endorsed by McKevitt, who said, “I have known him personally for 12 years . . . I think he is very bright, energetic, has a good hands-on knowledge of the needs of the district.”
McKevitt added that he supports Mikulin’s desire to “preserve suburbia” by offering businesses incentives to come to Long Island and create more employment opportunities. Mikulin criticized his opponent’s idea and said, “We don’t need more housing; we need more jobs.”
State Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat from Seaford, told the Herald that he supports Malin. “I’ve had the privilege of knowing Matt for a number of years,” Brooks said. “He’s a younger individual who understands how difficult it is to live on Long Island . . . and I think he will represent not only Nassau County, but also his generation.”
Brooks added that a Democratic win would send a message to Albany, because the Republican Party has a registration advantage in the district and the county’s representation in the Assembly is currently split between Republicans and Democrats.
Voters asked both candidates about their stances on establishing New York as a sanctuary state, which Malin said he supports if it is applied to so-called “Dreamers.” “Giving them every opportunity to become citizens, being that they did not come here of their own volition,” he said, “would be in the best interests of the state of New York and of the country.”
Mikulin, in contrast, said that doing so would disregard federal law, and he would not support it.
Another issue on which the candidates had differing opinions was school safety. While they agreed that police should work more closely with schools, Malin said he opposed proposals made by state Republicans to increase funding for armed security officers in schools.
The candidates had similar stances on a number of issues, however, supporting a proposal to eliminate cash bail for arrests in misdemeanors and non-violent cases, and another to facilitate early voting.
Voters can cast their ballots on April 24. The district includes East Meadow, Seaford, Wantagh, Bethpage, Farmingdale, Levittown, Massapequa and Uniondale.