Timing is everything.
Susan Berland says that it "wasn't the plan" for her to run for State Senate; her candidacy emerged after redistricting and outgoing Sen. James Gaughran's decision not to run. But the Dix Hills Democrat has picked the right time to make a bid for Albany.
Berland is challenging Mario R. Mattera, who is completing his first term. The Saint James Republican rightly points to important successes such as his work on a wage-theft bill that allows the state to go after unscrupulous employers, especially in construction. But Mattera, 59, too often opposes policies without presenting new ideas. He takes pride in his efforts to encourage municipalities to opt out of marijuana retail dispensaries. Mattera said criminal justice reforms must be repealed to "start from square one," but offers few alternatives to make the criminal justice system fairer but still effective. Mattera supports abortion access only in the first trimester, calls mandating the COVID-19 vaccine "terrible," and is evasive about which vaccines he'd mandate for children attending school.
Berland, a former Suffolk County legislator and Huntington Town board member, has a clear understanding of how the state can help and work with counties and towns, particularly on issues like affordable housing. She is firm in her position on many statewide issues, including her support of a statewide constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights, her recognition of the importance of mandating vaccination for children attending school, and her interest in expanding universal pre-K. But Berland, 61, also can be nuanced, as in her parsing of the state's criminal justice legislation. Berland notes that she wouldn't have voted for the original bail reform legislation and advocates further judicial discretion, but she also emphasizes that the state must increase mental health funding and make available supportive housing for those with mental health needs.
If Berland brings her local experience to the statewide stage, both her district and the state would benefit.
Newsday endorses Berland.