I Support the New York Health Act

Through my own first-hand experience, I recognize the importance of universal healthcare for all citizens and I know the suffering that families can endure when adequate health care is out of reach. This summer, the New York State Assembly passed a comprehensive health care reform bill known as the New York Health Act.

My opponent, Anthony Palumbo, voted against the New York Health Act. Who is he working for? Is he working for the people of New York or is he working for the big insurance companies and their CEOs?

According to a recent analysis, 98% of New Yorkers would spend less for health coverage and health care under New York Health than they do today. New York would save over $70 billion by eliminating health insurance company administration and profit; reducing health care provider and employer administrative costs; and capturing savings from negotiating prices of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Even after expanding coverage to all New Yorkers; eliminating deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-network charges; and increasing low Medicaid reimbursements, New York Health would generate net savings of $45 billion.

This is a no-brainer, Assembly Distinct 2 needs someone who is going to work in the best interest of the people, not against them.

The Cure for PIISD: The New York Health Act from Chadwick Whitehead on Vimeo.

Here is some more information on the subject.


Rona Smith Named Democratic Nominee for NYS Assembly District 2


Greenport, July 21, 2018 – Southold Town resident Rona Smith, widely recognized as a successful businesswoman, dedicated educator, and a champion for affordable housing, has been named by the Suffolk County Democratic Committee as its nominee to run for New York State Assembly (District 2) on the Democratic line in the upcoming November election.

In her 20 years as a Southold resident, Rona Smith has made her mark on the community by leading advisory committees and thus influencing policy.  Currently, she serves as Chair of Southold’s Housing Advisory Commission, sits on the town’s Economic Development Committee, and is Vice-Chair of the Southold Local Development Corporation.  All three of these groups have taken direct steps to improve the lives of area residents under Rona’s determined leadership.

“I am thrilled Rona is among the qualified, brave and accomplished women nationwide deciding to step up for their communities and run for office. Rona is a civic leader on the east end,” said Kathryn Casey Quigley, Chairwoman of the Southold Town Democratic Committee. “She is a dedicated and passionate candidate who will fight hard in the Assembly to get things done for residents in this district. Southold Democrats proudly support her.”

“I am honored to have been nominated to run for New York State Assembly,” Rona said. “I know that, as a member of the Assembly, I can help clear the obstacles that so many Long Islanders face today.”

The three top issues on her priority list are housing, education, and healthcare. If elected, she will bring her unique skill set to Albany and work diligently to improve the lives of residents not only here in AD2 but throughout the state.

Rona began her career as a JHS English teacher in South Jamaica, Queens. Her successful teaching career led her to receive a federal grant to obtain her MA at NYU. A PhD fellowship followed, along with the birth of her son, and three years later, her daughter, but the State budget crunch of the late 1970s, led Rona down another career path.  Her longtime interest in real estate led to a job as a broker and ultimately involvement in investment real estate rehab and renewal.

Rona was the longtime head of an investment development group specializing in multi-family housing. She has taken that extensive experience and knowledge and shared it with her community in pursuit of much needed workforce housing on the North Fork. She has been involved in workforce housing exclusively since 2000.

“The need for affordable housing is dire, sending our well-educated kids to live elsewhere, forcing businesses to scrounge for workers, and often causing young people to postpone establishing their own households,” Rona explains. “A fifty unit complex is about to be built in Southold, thanks to our efforts to proactively pursue affordable housing developers, encouraging them to build in Southold.  This was accomplished by working across party lines, something I plan to do when I reach Albany.”

She also noted, “Watching the Affordable Care Act coverage being ripped to shreds is a source of worry for many.  Hard-working people should not be afraid to get sick. I will work here in New York State to re-establish the diminishing safety net.  With the opioid epidemic on the rise and mental health care limited or non-existent, these serious crises are on my urgent Assembly agenda.”

Rona has had personal experience with what it means not to have health care coverage. In 2012, Rona’s son, David, died.  He did not have health insurance because of the high cost and postponed seeing doctors.  When he finally did, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  If not for the Affordable Care Act and its pre-existing-condition provision for cancer, he would not have received the aggressive treatment that was his only hope.

Rona’s education has given her the tools to solve the difficult challenges we face in these trying times.  She earned her college degree at Queens College, CUNY.  If Queens College had not been free at the time, she probably couldn’t have attended.  She went on to earn an MA and a PhD from New York University, both of these were accomplished with federal fellowships that were, at the time, a big source of educational funding.  Later, she earned an MBA from Columbia University.  Rona lives in Greenport with her dog Pluto.  Her daughter, Letty, a physician, also lives on Long Island.

Southold Housing in Crisis

This article was originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of the Peconic Landing Newsletter.

Peconic Landing residents are citizens of Southold and voters here, too;  your opinions are valued.  Southold Town, which includes the villages/hamlets from Laurel east to Orient Point has had a housing crisis for a number of years.  As a resort destination close to New York City, it attracts second homeowners, people whose incomes are earned elsewhere, on a different pay scale.  Coupled with a successful land preservation program, this has created a scarcity of land in the face of ever-increasing demand.  Both factors push up the price of land.  Expensive land discourages the building of modest houses, so new houses are increasingly larger.  Large houses on expensive land result in high-priced homes.  Older houses are impacted in turn and housing prices escalate across-the-board.

People who work full-time in Southold Town often cannot secure housing to meet their budgets.  They are forced to move away or live in sub-standard housing conditions.

In Southold, rising home prices have sidelined many first-time buyers, elderly down-sizers, and those who earn median incomes in local communities (the median being the point at which half of incomes fall above and half below).  In Southold, a lack of rental apartments compounds the housing problem. The Nassau/Suffolk median income for a family of four stands at $110,800.  If, as banks presume, a home is affordable at 2.5 times gross income, the median family can afford a house priced at $277,000 ($110,800 X 2.5).  In Southold Town the median home price is approximately $579,900.  Big disconnect.

High housing costs (mortgage plus taxes) are burdening residents across Long Island: 57% of the population spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing and 32% spend 50% or more![1]  A recent survey found that 72% of those aged 18-34 plan to leave L.I. by the year 2020.  This represents a significant portion of the island’s working age and child-bearing population, presaging stagnant population growth, shrinking schools and unfilled jobs.  Young adults on L.I. are most impacted by the lack of suitable housing and are more than twice as likely to live with parents when compared to the national average.  The problem affects seniors, too, many of whom need to downsize and ‘down-budget’.

An affordable housing development with 50 units is now in the Town’s approval process.  Public hearings are imminent once the development passes its Planning Board review.  The Housing Advisory Commission, of which I am chair, strongly supports this development that will offer homes to families earning 50% and 60% of the area median income.

There are many people who will oppose anything below market rate and public opinion will matter in getting this finalized.  I hope you will lend your voices to those speaking in favor of offering this housing.

[1] American Community Survey, 2015