Incumbent Monica Martinez is running for re-election for the 3rd District of the state Senate against Republican challenger Alexis Weik. Martinez has experience as a Suffolk County legislator, a Brentwood Schools administrator, as well as a teacher at the high school.
“I love what I did as a teacher and administrator. I was able to connect with children and families,” said Martinez, who is running on the Democratic ticket. “But I saw a greater need when bureaucracy was within our government department and failed one of my families that I was trying to help. That was when I really decided to run for office.”
Martinez provided an anecdote from when she was an administrator: A student would hang around after hours because there was no food or heat at home. When she called the Department of Social Services, she nor the department were unable to address the situation legally.
“That really bothered me that the red tape existed for families to get help,” she said. “That is really what did it for me. This is not how government is supposed to work.”
After being elected the following year to the legislature, Martinez said she knew she made the right decision in leaving education for political office.
“[At] that same school building, I had the guidance counselor call me with the same situation, but a different child,” she said. “I was able to call DSS as a county legislator. As soon as I made the call, 45 minutes later, that house had a delivery of oil at their home.”
Martinez’s main reason for entering the political world was to assist families in financial hardship.
“My importance was our children and still is our children. Knowing that being at the state Senate, I am able to bring funding to programs, to education as a whole, was very important to me, not just to our children but to our professional staff,” said Martinez, adding that her office secured record funding during her first term as state senator.
Regarding her platform, firstly, Martinez referenced how hard the 3rd Senatorial District was hit. Additionally, the hardships of unemployment have had a stark effect on communities.
“We have residents calling my office that have yet to receive their unemployment benefits,” she said. “I am very disappointed because these are families who rely on money to feed their families and pay their bills.”
Martinez continued on to discuss her advocacy for residents who need unemployment money, but owe the government money.
“They were in this black hole. They were just out there where they were not allowed to collect unemployment, they had no job, and they had to pay the government back,” Martinez said. “We had families reaching out to me saying, 'I cannot feed my child. My child suffers from seizures. I need medication for my child.' And they weren't getting paid because they owed money to the government.”
In terms of the economic issues that the communities face due to the effects and response of the pandemic, Martinez said elected officials are tasked now with thinking outside the box.
“Raise revenue without taxing our taxpayers, our middle-class working families. We need to fill this hole that has been created more with the pandemic than what we had prior to the pandemic. We know that there was a deficit to begin with, but the pandemic put us in a bigger hole and a bigger deficit,” Martinez said.
Discussing campaigning across the district, Martinez said she is campaigning every single day by operating and communicating with the constituency consistently.