State Sen. Kevin Thomas, a Democrat from Levittown, seeks re-election this year in District 6 against Republican challenger Dennis Dunne Sr. Jonathan Gunther, a libertarian, is also running as a third-party candidate.
The district includes some or all of the following communities: West Hempstead, Wantagh, Uniondale, Seaford, Salisbury, Plainedge, Old Bethpage, Massapequa, Malverne, Levittown, Lakeview, Island Trees, Hicksville, Hempstead, Garden City South, Garden City, Franklin Square, Farmingdale, East Meadow and Bethpage.
Thomas, of Levittown, immigrated to the United States at 10 years old. Prior to winning election two years ago in the 6th District, he served as an attorney and civic leader. Thomas was also an appointee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to the New York State Advisory Committee.
Upon his election in 2018, Thomas became the first Indian-American in New York history to serve in the state Senate. He currently serves as chairman of the Consumer Protection Committee and sits on the Judiciary, Finance, Banking, Aging, Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committees.
Dunne, also of Levittown, is currently a Town of Hempstead council member for District 6. He was appointed to the Town Board three years ago after serving over two decades as a Nassau County legislator. Dunne was an original member of the Legislature when it was formed in 1996.
Dunne serves as president of the Levittown/Island Trees Veterans Council and was president of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council. He is a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Disabled American Veterans, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Lions Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Kiwanis Club and the Levittown Chamber of Commerce. Dunne is also the former chair of the Nassau County Executive’s Veterans Advisory Committee and former head of the Nassau County Veterans Agency, serving with the Marines in the Vietnam War.
Gunther, 31, also of Levittown, is an operations coordinator for FedEx and executive chairman of the Nassau County Libertarian Party. He is in the process of finishing an associate degree at Nassau Community College.
Patch has attempted to reach out to all the candidates to fill out our 2020 candidate questionnaire. Here are their responses, lightly edited for clarity.
Age as of Election Day (Nov. 3): 31
Town of residence: Levittown
Position Sought: State Senate
Party Affiliation: Libertarian
Betzy Toro, mother, retired NYPD detective
James F Gunther, father, Passed away, NYPD ESU
Marty Blaustein, stepfather, retired NYPD sergeant
I have eight siblings, all different ages and professions. Two of my brothers served and is currently serving in the U.S. Navy.
Our family has a strong bond like no other.
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government? No
Education: Finishing an associate degree for the year 2020 at Nassau Community College.
Occupation: FedEx ops coordinator for 10 years.
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office: None.
Campaign website: JonathanGunther.com
Why are you seeking elective office?
My goal is to create happier New Yorkers. I believe that the state government is an obstacle from reaching that happiness. I want to maximize social and economic freedoms and reduce the power of the state government. To channel the power from the state government to the local communities, allowing the local governments to have more control over their decisions. To restore the balance between liberty and police. To enable more free markets. To empower individual freedom and responsibilities. To protect constitutional rights. Overall, I want government to leave you alone and to create a true, free New York.
The single most pressing issue facing our nation/state/community is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
I believe the economic situation is the more pressing issue. We are in a pandemic that has hit the country hard. People have lost their businesses and their jobs due to government shutdowns. People are having trouble to afford their every day needs. We are in debt and we are over taxed.
There are different solution to help the economic burden that the Virus and the Government has brought.
Those solutions are:
1. To open up the economy and allow for business to make their own decisions on safety precautions for their business.
2. End state income tax, to allow people to keep money in their own pockets to spend on what they need.
3. To end unnecessary regulations that prevents businesses from growing and getting back on their feet.
4. Cut government wasteful spending
5. The current state government gave themselves raises during the COVID-19 crisis as the rest of us are taxed; we need to roll back the pay of government officials.
There are plenty of other things we can do.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
I think the biggest difference is the belief in freedom and liberty. I think we may have different definitions.
I want you to live your life by your own values and spend your money how to want to spend it without government interference.
I bring different views and different ideas and ways of tackling the issues that you never see with the two major parties. People have been waiting for a third choice with fresh ideas and that is what I bring to the table.
Unfortunately the other two want to take your money and spend it how they see fit, or tell you how to live your life. My democratic opponent wants to place bans of tons of different things, restricting free market solutions. My Republican opponent has only one issue and does not talk about the tons of other issues we have in New York.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency):
I believe the incumbent has not helped in spreading freedom to all. I believe the incumbent has made it harder for people to live in New York with high taxes. I believe the incumbent has made it harder for businesses to prosper because of his interference with the free market. The incumbent has passed laws that affect us socially in our every day lives. We need more freedom and less government.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform:
There are a long list of issues and things I would like to fight for as a Senator. Though, if Senator, I know that I will be the only Libertarian in office and my goal would be to hopefully change the minds of other elected officials and get them thinking about different, new ways we can solve issues.
Some of my other issues are :
(1)Balancing the state government.
(A) Our Senate has given too much power to the governor. We have a Senate for a reason: to talk and debate the laws and to vote on these laws. But our Senate has given up their role to the governor and have turned their heads the other way. They allow the governor to do what he wants without and checks and balances.
(2) Legalize recreational marijuana and reverse the ban of the sale of flavored vaping products. Also decrease the age of smoking back to 18. If you can go to war at the age of 18, you should be able to choose to take your own risk regarding smoking.
I do not agree with smoking, but I can’t use government to force my values on you.
(3) Implement a school voucher system.
A voucher system allows parents to have more control of their children’s education.
This also reduces taxes.
Right now the state spends about $22,000 per child. We can give voucher to the parents for $20,000 and let them choose what school they want their children to go to. You will see new and better schools pop up and allow for your children to leave a bad school. This gives the same opportunity for each child, regardless of their background for a better education.
(a) I will never vote to raise a tax.
(b) Call to end the state income tax.
(5) Repeal red flag laws and the safe act.
These laws do not help stop gun violence as they are intended to. They only make law-abiding citizens criminals.
We have to tackle gun violence in a different way. There are different ways. Some ways are creating a better education system. Creating jobs for young kids to get into. Join the local communities in help each other change along with other ideas that have a domino effect on gun violence.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I am a hard worker and I am very persistent to achieve the goals I have. I may not be a politician and I don’t have cronies in my pockets to serve.
I have attended Nassau Legislative meeting and Town Halls to speak out for freedom.
If I lose, I go back to working my day job. I don’t have a career or special interest to protect.
Even if I lose, I will still fight to spread the message of Liberty.
I am the executive chairman of the Nassau County Libertarian Party, and we strive to keep that message alive and fight for liberty for all.
The best advice ever shared with me was: No response.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I am the Nassau County Libertarian Party executive chairman.
I ran for Nassau County Legislature in 2019.
I am a Levittown Resident where I spend most of my life.
I enjoy video games.
I like punk rock music.
I love animals and have a pet rabbit named Yoda.
I am a huge economics nerd.