In an election year where most people want to shake up the status quo, state Senator Jack Martins hopes his moderate record will convince voters on both sides of the aisle to send him to Capitol Hill.
The Republican nominee for the Third Congressional District seat covering northeast Queens, northern Nassau and northwest Suffolk counties held by Steve Israel described himself as an “independent” in an interview with QNS on Monday. He stressed the importance of creating policies and legislation designed to give everyone an opportunity to succeed.
“The most important thing we can do in government is to encourage and pass policies that are going to promote job growth,” Martins said. “There are different philosophies, but I believe we have to provide opportunities to grow for people to have the American dream.”
A son of Portuguese immigrants, he was born in Jamaica and relocated with his family to Mineola. He graduated from St. John’s University Law School, practiced law and worked in the family’s construction business before entering politics in 2002 as a member of the Mineola village board. The following year, Martins was elected as Mineola’s mayor and would spend the next eight years leading the village.
Martins has spent the last four years representing the Seventh Senatorial District in northwestern Nassau County. During his time in Albany, he crossed the aisle and voted in favor of legislation supported by Democrats that tightened gun regulations and increased the minimum wage.
Though both topics are often opposed by mainstream Republicans, Martins said the state legislation on both issues were “common-sense approaches.” He said that his actions in Albany were the kind of “consensus building that people are looking for” in Washington.
“I do support the Second Amendment, I do support the right of people to bear arms, but I do believe we should have background checks as long as there are due process requirements included,” he told QNS. “On the issue of minimum wage, we came up with a solution that was crafted to the circumstances in New York state, with different phase-ins that took into consideration the economic realities in the state.”
Martins said he has also worked with Congressman Israel in the past on the one quality-of-life issue that seems to aggravate most residents in the Third District: increased airplane noise in the skies. While Israel sought federal remedies to reduce noise levels, Martins and his colleagues in the New York Legislature worked in a bipartisan manner to compel the Port Authority to conduct an official study.
If elected to Congress, Martins said he would seek to delve deeper into the problem and come up with additional solutions — such as potentially changing the approach and departure methods to and from the airports — that would result in quieter skies over his district.
“We have best practices that we can follow,” Martins said. “We do live in an area with a number of world-class airports and we benefit from it. At the same time, we should find ways to minimize the impact to our community and challenge the federal government to do that.”
Like his Democratic rival in the Third District race, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Martins has actively courted Queens voters and pledged to open a district office in the borough if elected. Though he is focused on the general election in November, Martins’ campaign is facing a legal challenge from another Republican, Philip Pidot, who was disqualified from the June primary ballot over petition signatures that a judge deemed invalid.
Martins dismissed the legal challenge from Pidot, charging that the candidate was responsible for his own failure to follow the rules. Meanwhile, Martins looks forward to debating Suozzi and making his case to voters in the weeks leading up to Election Day on Nov. 8.
“There are issues that we have that are going to make this election a clear choice between the past and the future,” Martins said. “My record of getting things done is something that I’m proud of.”
The Third District includes the neighborhoods of Bayside, Bellerose, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, North Shore Towers and Whitestone.