By Richard Altabe

Local Jewish voters may feel frustrated in this crucial election year that they do not live in a key swing state like Ohio wherein their vote could swing the election to Republican Mitt Romney. However, Far Rockaway and Kew Gardens Hills Jewish voters will play a decisive role in the upcoming NYS Senate District 15 election between Democrat Joe Addabbo and Republican Eric Ulrich this coming November 6.

Coming on the heels of last year’s special election wherein Jewish voters propelled Bob Turner and Phil Goldfeder to stunning electoral victories in a special election, we have the ability to solidify our electoral strength, thereby insuring that our voices will be heard in Albany.

Last month the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance had the opportunity to interview both Joe Addabbo and Eric Ulrich. We outlined our community’s core issues: tax credits for parochial school parents, support for our community yeshivas, and our support for traditional marriage. While both candidates did their best to demonstrate their support for our issues, it was clear that Republican Eric Ulrich is the best choice for our community this year for the following reasons:

1. While Senator Addabbo demonstrated his compassion for all families, his acceptance of $500,000 in campaign donations from the teachers unions makes it unlikely that he will be able to strongly support private school education. The United Federation of Teachers has been one of our strongest opponents on aid to yeshivas because of their belief that funds given to aid parochial students come at the expense of public school teachers.

Eric Ulrich has pledged to support his party’s position on tax credits and will work tirelessly to insure that some tax credit bill will pass the state legislature. He also strongly supports increasing CAP and mandated services funding to our yeshivas.

2. Senator Addabbo as a Catholic had always been a supporter of traditional marriage. However in 2010, under pressure from Governor Cuomo, he changed his position based on a poll of his constituents. His change of heart resulted in the passage of the same gender marriage bill. We can’t help but to be deeply disappointed in Senator Addabbo’s decision to abandon his core values and beliefs to accommodate the opinions of the small percentage of voters who responded to his poll. Telling us that he would vote differently today because his newly redrawn district is more conservative did not make us feel any better.

Eric Ulrich has been steadfast in his opposition to same gender marriage and his support for strong family values. He is a respected member of his church and believes that strong family and religious values help to stabilize our communities and produce citizens who value their communities.

3. Neither Councilman Ulrich nor Senator Addabbo have represented Far Rockaway in the past, yet Councilman Ulrich has made it his business to bring city funding to local agencies like the JCCRP and the Community Center of the Rockaway Peninsula. His support of our community, even when he was not our representative, demonstrates that he will be even more helpful once he is elected.

4. Councilman Ulrich organized the cleanup of Bayside Jewish Cemetery in Ozone Park because it pained him to see the desecration of hallowed burial grounds. He brought many diverse groups together for the project and remained involved until the project was completed. His youthful energy (Ulrich is 27 years old) gave us great hope that he would work tirelessly for his constituents.

5. If elected, Eric Ulrich will join the Republican Senate Majority that has been supportive of our communal issues in the past. He is very close with the majority leader, Dean Skelos, and is certain to be granted a significant role in the Senate should he win.

As a Democrat in the minority, Senator Addabbo will have far less influence and ability to make sure our needs are met.

Polls show that Ulrich and Addabbo are locked in a dead heat. However all pollsters agree that if the Jewish communities of District 15 unify behind one candidate, that candidate will certainly win the election. As lay leaders who have spent months studying the issues, the Far Rockaway Jewish Alliance is confident that Eric Ulrich can best provide the leadership we need in Albany. v


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