Senator Ken LaValle has represented this district in Albany for 36 years. No one can deny he knows his way around and has achieved a level of power there. He often works in tandem with our Assemblyman, Fred Thiele, co-sponsoring legislation.
We have suspected that oftentimes he mails it in, however. And his sojourns to the East End are infrequent. He navigated through the Bruno/Silver years, which may be indicative of his willingness to play ball -- for years New York was labeled the most dysfunctional state government in the country.
LaValle has seldom been tested, his machine so formidable that potential foes usually can't raise enough funds to mount a successful challenge. We believe he has become complacent over the years, but all that has changed.
This election is more about LaValle's opponent, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming. We have always been unabashed supporters of Fleming, and for good reason – she works tirelessly, she's intelligent, and she gets things done. The only thing she doesn't do well is promote herself -- while LaValle has a PR machine constantly churning, we oftentimes find out about Flemings' accomplishments second hand, not from the candidate herself. She's the rare public servant who is quietly effective, but as anyone who has witnessed her debates knows, her fire and passion burn deeply, and she achieves what she sets out to accomplish.
It's been a long time since we've had a female from these parts in Albany, and it's time to change that. It's not a knock on LaValle, but Fleming has emerged as the superior candidate in the course of this campaign. During their debates Fleming has repeatedly called the senator out on the amount of public funds he spends to promote himself, and despite his denials she backs it up with facts available on her website. LaValle has countered by spending far more than his challenger, which is probably indicative that he knows he's in a fight to the finish this time.
Maybe LaValle is too entrenched, and Fleming's bid to unseat him will fall short. Either way, though, she comes out a winner, because after a hard fought campaign the shine is off the incumbent, and either Fleming or someone else will be waiting in the wings for him should he opt to run again in two years.
Should Fleming come up short this time, we're pretty confident it's the last election she'll ever lose.
The Independent endorses Bridget Fleming for State Senate.