First-term Democratic Senator Monica Martinez is being challenged by Islip Town Tax Receiver Alexis Weik in the 3rd Senate District.
The District, long held by Republicans, covers much of south-central Suffolk County, including portions of Brookhaven and Islip and most of Brentwood.
Martinez won the seat in the “blue wave” of 2018 that brought the state Senate under Democratic control. Martinez, of Brentwood, was a part of that blue wave and was elected to the Senate after spending five years as a Suffolk County legislator. Before that, she was a school administrator in the Brentwood School district.
Part of her success in 2018 was that she was able to get support from minority voters, unhappy with Trump’s first two years in office. Martinez won more than twice as many votes in Brentwood and Central Islip election districts as the Democrat who ran in 2014.
This year, Martinez faces a challenge from Republican and Conservative Party-backed Weik, who grew up in Islip, graduated from Dowling College, worked as a personal trainer, an aide in the County Legislature, and as deputy tax receiver before first winning elective office in 2011. She is a 26-year resident of Sayville.
Her husband and oldest son are in law enforcement, and Weik is running on a platform that is pro police and anti bail reform.
Weik also says she wants to deliver “fair funding” for Long Island’s schools and “stand up for small businesses and get New York back to work.” She say she opposes making New York a sanctuary state and is against free college tuition for illegal immigrants.
One of the most important issues for residents of the district is the way the pandemic was handled in their communities. Brentwood and Central Islip have suffered more than other parts of the district, with some of the highest infection rates and deaths on Long Island.
Weik says a priority is fighting for businesses that had to close or reduce their business due to the coronavirus. Her website includes a petition that urges people to push back.
The petition states, “Albany bureaucrats are abusing the COVID-related special powers granted by the governor to punish restaurant and bar owners for minor infractions that have nothing to do with preventing the spread of the virus, but are aimed at increasing revenue to the state government.”
The second issue which is paramount to her campaigns is law and order. For five years, she was the chair of the Legislative Public Safety Committee, and Martinez had the support of police unions for her race in 2018. However, in this election, all of the police unions are backing Weik.
Two issues have changed the support of the police. The first was bail reform which took effect January 1 and has been a divisive issue across the state. The new law releases many of those arrested for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies, without bail. Republican lawmakers, and some Democrats too, say that this has led to repeat offenders committing other crimes.
A second issue being raised in this race is Martinez’s vote to repeal a law that had previously allowed police officers to refuse disclosure of personnel records used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion.
The move to repeal this protection for police officers became a major priority for many lawmakers in New York after George Floyd died in police custody this past May. After the George Floyd case became a major national issue, Martinez voted yes alongside the majority of the Senate in favor of increased policing transparency. Many minority and young voters were in favor of this.
Martinez, who sponsored more than 80 bills in her first session — 19 of which have been signed into law — is the chair of the Senate Committee on Domestic Animal Welfare and also sits on the Intergovernmental Affairs; Education; Insurance; Alcoholism and Substance Abuse; Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs; Labor; Rules; and Budget and Revenues committees.
According to the New York State Board of Elections, the Third Senate District includes 66,836 active Democratic voters, 54,849 active Republican voters, and 49,612 active independent voters.
The outcome of this race could be heavily impacted by how district voters will cast their ballot in the national election. Early voting has already begun and Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.