By Wilko Martínez-Cachero and Daniel Marcillo
Democratic candidate Monica Martinez, who is aiming to become the first female state senator for New York’s 3rd district, will be hosting a town hall at the Hauppauge Training Center on Nov. 1 in her last event before the midterm elections. A win on Nov. 6 would signify a change in Long Island politics which have been dominated by Republicans for the past 20 years.
Martinez will be meeting with carpenters and trade workers starting at 5:00pm. The event will be co-hosted by the New England Regional Council of Carpenters, who have endorsed her in recent days in addition to the Long Island Progressive Coalition. A Facebook page for the town hall lists 40 possible attendees.
Martinez decided to run for state senate after noticing that issues affecting New York and the island were being shunned.
“I felt that, through the experience I had as Suffolk County legislator, I would be able to bring the change and the funding that is needed on the various issues that the state is facing,” Martinez said.
Martinez, who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador at the age of three, is currently a Suffolk County legislator. She sees herself as a public servant, rather than a politician, and strives to be the voice of the voiceless.
If elected, Martinez wants to implement a variety of reforms. She would like to see term limits at the state level, officials being barred from receiving outside income, and stronger regulations for gun owners. One of her biggest challenges will be overcoming Suffolk County’s mostly white population.
“The Latino population has grown, but you’re looking at a county that’s still predominantly not Hispanic,” Christabel Cruz, the director of the New Leadership program at the Center for American Women and Politics, said.
Most of Martinez’s campaign and advertising has been partisan until now, Cruz believes, which fits the theme of the midterm elections. Her website and social media depict a candidate who is unabashedly proud of her roots despite a turbulent political atmosphere.
“Monica is the epitome of the American Dream,” Rich Schaffer, the Town of Babylon supervisor, said. “She immigrated here at 3, became an educator, and is now a public servant representing the community.”
Martinez has tried to be more relatable to voters throughout her campaign. Per a 2012 census, 19.5% of people in Suffolk County are Hispanic or Latino, making them the county’s largest minority.
“She’s showing that she’s a resident of this community and, as a woman candidate, as a Latina candidate, and as an immigrant, she can represent multiple populations,” Cruz said.
Martinez joins a series of Democratic women, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Liuba Grechen Shirley, who are vying to be at the forefront of a blue wave in New York.
“It’s something that I hope inspires other young women to run in the future,” Martinez said. “I think that women, especially women of color, need to know that they can do anything they put their hearts and mind to.”
Supporters of the Democratic party hope that Martinez’s state senate run will inspire future generations.
“As a father of three girls, I think that it sets a great precedent for many, many girls in Suffolk County,” Luis Montes, the Islip Town democratic committee chairman, said.
Not all voters and members of the Republican party feel the same way about this race. The 3rd district was won by republicans Lee Zeldin in 2012 and Tom Croci in 2014 and 2016.
Martinez is currently running against Republican candidate Dean Murray, who was unavailable for comment.
“Murray will use more common sense, will cut taxes to make it easier people live, work and start families in Suffolk County,” Alex Angerman, a Republican supporter, said.
Martinez was predicted to have a 4-point advantage over Murray as of September 24, according to a Change Research poll. She also had support from 62 percent of women.
Democrats maintain the idea of their party attempting to take back power and creating real change for their constituents.
“We need to prioritize the person and what they bring to the table over how much money they can raise,” Schaffer said. “[That’s] why [Democrats are] poised to take back the New York state senate and it’s how we’ll regain control of the government on the national level.”