By Kathryn G. Menu
St. James businessman Randy Altschuler has decided to seek a rematch against Democratic incumbent congressman Tim Bishop in 2012. Altschuler lost his congressional bid against Bishop last year in one of the closest election races in the country.
Altschuler, who was the Republican and Conservative Party candidate in the 2010 congressional race, announced his candidacy in a press release and via his Facebook page on May 25. The announcement came shortly after he withdrew his name from the list of Republican hopefuls vying for Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s seat this fall.
“After serious consideration, I have decided to run once again for Congress in the 1st District,” stated Altschuler. “With the help of all of my loyal supporters and the taxpayers of Eastern Suffolk County, I am certain we will be successful in unseating Tim Bishop in 2012 and starting down a path towards job creation, lower taxes and a robust economy.”
Last time, after battling his way through a three-way Republican primary, Altschuler narrowly lost his bid for Congress, with Bishop earning just 593 votes more than Altschuler. The race stretched weeks past election day and was ultimately decided by a significant number of absentee ballots that swung in Bishop’s favor.
Bishop, a five-term Democrat, will be seeking his sixth term.
While Altschuler appears to have Republican and Conservative parties support, both issued statements this week praising the candidate’s business experience, he will face at least one contender on his way to representing the Republican Party on the ballot. Ronkonkoma attorney George Demos has also thrown his hat in the ring to run for Congress in 2012. He came in second in the three-way Republican primary in 2010.
Schneiderman Will Face Kelly
This fall, four term Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman will face off against title agency owner Cornelius Kelly, a resident of Southampton Town, after the Republican Party announced Kelly as its candidate for the second district seat last week.
A native and resident of Montauk, Schneiderman served on the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals from 1991 to 1999, the last three years as board chair. He left a career in education to seek office as East Hampton Town Supervisor in 1999 and served two terms there.
Schneiderman was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in 2003 and in his last election, in 2009, won 100 percent of the vote after being cross endorsed by all parties. A former Republican, Schneiderman is now a member of the Independence Party, but will run on the Democratic Party line as well this fall.
Kelly, who is 39, is also a native of the East End having been born and raised in Westhampton Beach. He now resides in Southampton Town.
A former bond analyst, in 2005 Kelly founded Liberty Property Services, Inc., a title insurance company which he currently runs.
“I believe in a strong, efficient, limited government,” said Kelly in a press release issued after his nomination. “As a small business owner I know first hand the fastest way to promote job growth is low taxes.”
In other county election news, last week the Republican Party nominated Suffolk County Treasurer Angie Carpenter to run for county executive. She will face Democratic hopeful, Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone.
Charges of Price Gouging
New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. fired off a press release this week charging that major gasoline suppliers and wholesalers price gouged South Fork residents over the Memorial Day holiday weekend in a direct violation of the state’s prohibition on zone pricing for gasoline.
According to Thiele’s office, a month ago the American Automobile Associate stated the average price of regular gasoline at $4.135. Today, it is about $4.028. Thiele noted that in every major market in New York, gas prices have declined from $0.07 to $0.15 in the past month, a trend reflective of the fact that oil prices have dropped, now stabilizing around $100 a barrel.
This week, Thiele said that while prices have dropped across Nassau and Suffolk counties, on the South Fork “gasoline prices have seemed frozen in time for the last month,” averaging around $4.25.
“It is obvious that when it came to gasoline prices in one of the most popular vacation communities in America, ‘Big Oil’ has chosen to not only ignore the zone pricing law but also repeal the law of supply and demand,” he said.
“In response to the decline in oil prices, retail gasoline prices have declined across the state and nation, except on the South Fork. Prices haven’t moved in a month,” continued Thiele who added, “It is clear that prices were kept artificially high to exploit the big holiday weekend.”
Thiele intends to contact the New York State Attorney General to investigate the matter and will pursue stronger zone pricing legislation through the State Legislature.
Passenger Ferry Discussion
On Friday, June 3 at 4:30 p.m. the Sag Harbor Citizens Advisory Committee to the Town of Southampton will host local transportation expert Hank de Cillia, who will discuss a proposed passenger ferry route that aims to use Sag Harbor as one of its hub ports.
In a letter to the editor earlier this month, de Cillia argued that traffic and parking are already issues within the Village of Sag Harbor and that the ferry could alleviate some of those issues while supporting the village’s rich maritime history and culture.
Jim Ryan’s firm Response Marina has proposed the Peconic Bay Passenger Shuttle Service, a year round service between the North and South Forks. According to a proposal submitted to the village in February, a dedicated passenger ferry route and schedule would connect Greenport to Sag Harbor, branching out later to connect to Southampton and Riverhead.
The shuttle would be a year-round, seven day a week service. The company plans to use a 40-person passenger shuttle, but said it would increase to three shuttles if demand was there.
According to the proposal, the ferry would be scheduled to arrive at transportation hubs like Riverhead in time for passengers to connect to the Suffolk County bus line, which could bring them further west or connect them to the Long Island Rail Road.
Under village code, a passenger ferry service on private property is against code and would require a variance. Ryan has said he would instead seek a public, village-owned dock space to run the operation.
Sag Harbor Village Trustees have not ruled out the possibility of the ferry shuttle service, but have continually noted it is against village code as of now.