Monica Martinez(D): People before parties

Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood) is running on the Democratic ticket for the state Senate 3rd District in the upcoming election on Nov. 6. She faces Dean Murray (R) to replace the seat left by Sen. Tom Croci (R-Sayville).

Martinez graduated from Brentwood High School and Binghamton University, where she earned a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and history. She later attended New York University, obtaining a master’s degree in secondary education with a concentration in social studies. In 2000, she started as a social studies teacher at Brentwood High School. After teaching for 10 years, she looked to move up. In 2006, she enrolled at Stony Brook University, where she obtained her administrative degree. In 2010, she was hired as assistant principal for Brentwood’s East Middle School.

In 2013, Martinez was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature to represent the 9th Legislative District and is now serving her third term. Martinez was appointed chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee and is a sitting member of the permanent Heroin and Opiate Advisory Panel.

She is concerned with many issues that have originated at the national level but have also directly impacted New Yorkers. She said that she wants to see a codified version of the Roe v. Wade verdict of the Supreme Court at the state level, adding that it is likely the ruling will be overturned. She said it is the only way to protect women from the government interfering with their health choices.

“A woman should have the right to choose,” Martinez said.

The legislator is also is an advocate for common sense gun regulation, saying that there should be no repeal of the SAFE Act, which was passed in 2013 after the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut. She also believes the Legislature should pass the Red Flag bill, another school violence prevention method that would allow teachers, administrators and parents to ask a judge to prevent people who may be a danger to themselves or others from buying or owning firearms.

“Our children’s lives are at stake,” she said.

Martinez also wants the Legislature to bring up the Climate and Community Protection Act, which she said was ignored by the Senate after passing the Assembly in April. The bill, in short, would aim to help New York minimize the adverse impacts of climate change through reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions, protect jobs that may be lost in transition by the energy sector, and review some public investments. Martinez said the major issues of rising sea levels and low-quality drinking water could be addressed through this and other pieces of legislation.

As an educator, Martinez said that the Common Core rollout was a major issue and has resulted in a misuse of resources for New York schools. She added that there was a lack of training for teachers, and students were expected to change their learning style too quickly. She also wants to see more equity in school funding so students can receive equal access to adequate education.

Martinez wants to bring new businesses into the district that will create jobs. She said one stipulation of this plan is for the business to be New York-based and hire New York workers. She said businesses like these are good for the community and provide jobs to residents, while generating revenue for the area.

Martinez decried the political climate as problematic, and she said she isn’t afraid to work with both sides. She added that all of the issues that she cares about are ones that impact people every day and shouldn’t be pushed aside due to political reasons.

“My focus is going to be bringing positive change to our residents,” she said.

Martinez has represented the Brentwood area in Suffolk County for five years, but said she has been learning about the rest of the 3rd District, which covers a lot of area due to its interesting shape as an alligator mouth. It includes the towns of Patchogue, Bellport, Brookhaven, Mastic Beach and Shirley, but also Brentwood, Central Islip, Ronkonkoma, Sayville and Great River. Martinez said she has been reaching out to residents of all towns in the district, showing how she can relate to them through issues she’s faced at the county level.

“My turn at the county has definitely opened my eyes to other areas,” she said.

As for working across the aisle, Martinez said she hasn’t been afraid to side with Republicans if a measure makes sense for her constituents. She added that she is more concerned with protecting everyone, creating compromise and getting things done, than siding with a party. She said common issues around the district have been protecting waterways and dumping.

Martinez is looking to bring her advocacy to the state level, saying that it provides her with additional opportunities to achieve goals. She added that some issues are held back at the county level due to state statutes and regulations, so the Senate would allow her an opportunity to get more done, she said.

In a message to voters, Martinez said that she wants people to take time and get to know her. She said she has been a lifelong resident of Long Island, as her parents moved here when she was 3, and said her inspiration for running is to continue to make Long Island better.

“I want my family to stay here,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere. I’m a product of Long Island.”

She said her skillsets of fighting to get things done, as well as communication and connecting with others, will be strengths in the Senate. She isn’t focused on “political bickering” and wants people to vote for her as an individual, not just because she is a Democrat.

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