Christine Pellegrino: 9th District Assembly
ISLIP TOWN—Christine Pellegrino is seeking reelection after serving a year and a half in office. She was first elected to New York’s 9th Assembly District after she defeated Republican Thomas Gargiulo in a special election last May.
Pellegrino became the first Democrat to represent the district after she replaced Republican Joseph Saladino, who held the seat since 2004. Saladino stepped down after he was appointed Oyster Bay town supervisor.
Before being elected to the state Assembly, Pellegrino was an elementary school reading teacher in the Baldwin Union Free School District for 18 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education, along with a Master of Science degree in reading from St. John’s University. She also received an advanced degree in educational leadership from Long Island University.
As a teacher, Pellegrino became an outspoken critic of Common Core. She eventually helped lead Long Island’s opt-out movement. “My constituents have been neglected for decades,” Pellegrino said, particularly in the areas of education. “I want to show the school districts that I’ll fight for Long Island education.”
Earlier this year, the Assembly passed legislation, which Pellegrino co-sponsored, that eliminates the mandatory use of state assessments in teacher and principal evaluations.
“As a teacher for over 20 years, I know firsthand that to provide children with the best possible education, we need to support local control and the idea that every child is different. Teachers need to be evaluated on how they perform in the classroom, not on arbitrary test scores. The best education comes from teachers putting their own love of learning, curiosity and passion into a lesson, and you’re not going to get that when you teach to a test,” Pellegrino said shorty after the legislation passed.
Shortly before the special election that put her in office, Pellegrino served as a delegate for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential primaries.
She was also a featured speaker at the 2017 People’s Summit, an annual conference that was held in Chicago from 2016-2017 by various progressive organizations in the United States, including National Nurses United.
In regards to taxes, Pellegrino called the GOP tax plan, which was signed into law earlier this year and puts a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, a “catastrophe” for Long Island. She expressed solidarity with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and his recent efforts to petition the IRS for changes to the federal tax code.
As for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent school tax cap, Pellegrino said she might support the plan if it “fully funded education.” The state’s current cap is up from 1.26 percent last year. It is also the highest school tax cap since 2013-2014.
Water sanitation is also a high priority for Pellegrino.
Last year, Suffolk County passed legislation that imposes new requirements on wastewater management in an effort to improve water quality throughout the county.
The legislation, which goes into effect in July 2019, requires all property owners replacing a cesspool to add a septic tank. Under the former Suffolk County Sanitary Code, homeowners were not required to replace an aging or failing cesspool with anything but an in-kind cesspool.
This legislation is expected to be the first in a series of changes to the sanitary code. Pellegrino says she looks forward to seeing the updated legislative agenda. She hopes it will help homeowners get loans for new septic systems, which, she added, also “protects property value.”
Pellegrino, a Nassau County native, has lived in West Islip for nearly 10 years. She has two daughters, ages 14 and 13.
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