Forest Hills businessman bids for Stavisky’s seat

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State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) is gearing up for Round 1 of her re-election bid as she faces a Democratic opponent in the Sept. 9 primary.

Stavisky has been challenged by fellow Democrat Robert Schwartz in the upcoming primary. Schwartz's campaign has thus far had little visibility, but nonetheless has garnered the 500 signatures required to remain on the ballot.

A retired Forest Hills businessman, Schwartz's campaign has raised just $30,000, according to campaign finance records — all of which has come in the form of two $15,000 loans Schwartz made to himself.

Mailings sent out by Schwartz to registered Democrats in Stavisky's district say the senate candidate plans to "crack down on those who abuse Medicaid and Medicare" and slam Stavisky for not doing so.

The mailing also says Schwartz's successful business background will help him be an innovator who will bring honesty back the state Legislature.

Schwartz could not be reached for comment by press time on his campaign.

Campaign finance records show Schwartz has spent just over $22,000 since registering his campaign officially in July, with the majority of the expenditures going toward circulating petitions to be placed on the ballot.

Stavisky, meanwhile, has the backing of the Queens Democratic Party and has also received personal endorsements from U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing).

Elected in 1999 in a special election following her husband and predecessor Leonard's death, Toby Stavisky said she is campaigning on a nearly decade-long record of proven results.

Stavisky said that first and foremost the state needs to address the economic woes that have gripped the nation.

"So much depends on whether we have enough money coming into the state," Stavisky said. "We've got to pay more attention to the middle class. These are the people we're forgetting. We can encourage job creation. Job creation to me is critical." The senator contended health care reform is also one of the most pressing need for the residents of New York and said she has a proven track record of fighting to expand the health care coverage of her constituents.

Stavisky said that since coming into office, she has helped expand Child Care Plus, expanded prescription drug coverage and been part of founding a senior citizen center all to better serve the health care needs of children and senior citizens.

She also said she has fought hard to bolster the public education system, supporting legislation that gives tax cuts to teachers, reduces the cost of textbooks for college students, secures millions of dollars to help better fund Queens schools and enables them adapt to do more to serve their students in the digital age.

Stavisky also stressed the importance of monitoring children's Internet usage to prevent them from falling prey to child predators.

Stavisky is also running on the Working Families Party ticket.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, ext. 138.

Updated 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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