Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) was recently honored by Leah S. Dunaief, Editor and Publisher, and the Times Beacon Record Newspapers as the Man of the Year in a number of their publications.
In the article written by Lee Lutz, Senator Flanagan was noted as a "tireless advocate for his constituents and the people of New York State."
The honor was announced in the December issues of the Times of Middle Country, the Village Times Herald and the Village Beacon Record and formally presented to Senator Flanagan at a recent dinner held at the Three Village Inn.
He was also named the Man of the Year in Government in the Port Times Record.
Please click here to read the full Man of the Year story in the online edition of the Village Times Herald or continue reading on this page for the text of the article.
Man of the Year
Senator John Flanagan serves his district tirelessly and well
by Lee Lutz
State Senator John Flanagan last year appeared — particularly during campaign season running for reelection in the Second Senatorial District — to be everywhere. That's what we have come to expect of a politician and legislator during that every-other-year marathon. But this is 2007, an off year for state legislative elections, and Flanagan appeared to be even more "everywhere" than in 2006.
A tireless advocate for his constituents and the people of New York State, the three-term senator and before that three-term state assemblyman is The Village Times Herald Man of the Year for 2007.
Flanagan represents a wide-ranging and diverse district from Poquott, Terryville and Farmingville on the east through Hauppauge to Dix Hills, Commack and East Northport on the west. Representing "about 306,000 people," according to Flanagan, he is expected to deal with a plethora of issues while at the same time bringing home the bacon for his constituents. And bring it home he does.
Local organizations Flanagan has supported with state grants include — just in the Three Village area — the Bove Health Center at Jefferson's Ferry, Friends of Karen, Literacy Suffolk, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, New York Sea Grant, Parents for Megan's Law, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), Three Village Garden Club, Three Village Historical Society, the East Setauket VFW Post and the Ward Melville Heritage Organization.
But the senator does not just hand out state money. Flanagan is intimately involved in issues that cover the gamut of resident concerns and statewide needs. Highest on his list of priorities is the item highest on his constituents' lists.
"They care about property taxes," Flanagan said during a lengthy discussion with TBR Newspapers' staff in September. One focus of the senator has been addressing the state aid formula for education funding, playing a leading role in the successful drive to gain a high property tax area adjustment in the state's 2007 education funding package, bringing millions more in state aid to Three Village schools and similar districts across Long Island. Flanagan is involved currently in the effort to reverse the initial plan for next year's state aid, writing and lobbying Governor Eliot Spitzer — along with the rest of the Long Island state senate delegation — to adjust the 2008-2009 Regents State Aid proposal to more accurately reflect the needs of Long Island homeowners.
"This is a plan that would devastate our schools, overburden our taxpayers, and is one that we find totally unacceptable," Flanagan said. The senator met early this month with superintendents from over 30 Long Island school districts to plan strategy for the impending fiscal battle.
"This is about fairness," he told the assembled school officials. And echoing his remarks to this newspaper's staff in September, Flanagan told his audience there, "It's about property taxes. It's about property taxes. It's about property taxes. It's about property taxes."
At a town hall meeting at the Setauket Elementary School in April, Flanagan summed up his mantra.
"I believe I have a mandate to argue on your behalf and advocate for your interests," he told his local audience.
Toward that end Flanagan has advocated for stronger protections from sexual predators and worked with organizations like Parents for Megan's Law here in Stony Brook to protect children and punish violators.
"The role of a lawmaker is not only to change the problem," said Laura Ahearn, executive director of PFML, "it's also to understand the dynamics of a problem." And Flanagan has fulfilled this dual role with his help in organizing and attending community workshops to instruct the public on ways to spot the threat of child-targeting sex offenders and protect them from these convicted felons. "He doesn't talk about prevention, he actually acts on it," Ahearn said.
"Senator Flanagan is more than just a lawmaker in our community — he's a friend to every person and to every agency that comes to him to solve problems," Ahearn said.
Flanagan has been a long-time supporter of, and frequent visitor to, the Long Island State Veterans Home (LISVH) in Stony Brook.
"He gets it," said LISVH Director Fred Sganga. "There are 300,000 veterans on Long Island and he recognizes them." Sganga credited Flanagan for facilitating millions of dollars from the VA State Veterans Homes Construction Grants program, which requires the state to contribute funds in order to allow the federal monies to be made available. Sganga also said that during the senator's visits to the home "he reaches out to the residents personally." The director concluded, "I believe Senator Flanagan is a tireless advocate for veterans on Long Island."
"Senator Flanagan has been a godsend to DDI and the people we care for," said Dan Rowland, director of development at Developmental Disabilities Institute, a multisite facility that offers programs to aid children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities, with campuses in Smithtown, Huntington, Ronkonkoma, Riverhead and Medford.
Sal Bush, executive director of the Selden Centereach Youth Association (SCYA), praised Flanagan's efforts during the summer of 2006 to secure a $200,000 Economic Development Grant from the state, allowing the nonprofit youth organization to move toward purchasing a new building, rather than paying rent on their current, undersized facility. According to Bush, the SCYA provides more than 2,500 students and families with social outreach services such as a food pantry, tutoring and an after-school program. "Through Senator Flanagan's efforts, that money that we pay to rent now can go to services," Bush said. "He's changed the landscape of what nonprofits can do to aid communities."
The senator was born into politics, the son of the late Assemblyman John Flanagan, who served in Albany for 14 years. The assemblyman was succeeded in 1986 by his son who served three terms before being elected to the state senate in 2002. He won his three senate races with an average of 61 percent of the vote. The younger John Flanagan was raised in Huntington, received his bachelor's degree from William and Mary in Virginia and a law degree from Touro Law School in 1990.
Senator Flanagan was honored only two months ago by Literacy Suffolk as an advocate for improvements in reading skills for young people and in support of Literacy's effort to teach reading to those in need. A Leadership in Literacy award was bestowed on Flanagan at a reception in Old Field at Sunwood, the residence of Stony Brook University President Shirley Strum Kenny, who recently acknowledged her appreciation of Flanagan's help to SBU.
"We know we can go to him and he will understand," said Kenny, "because he's so bright." Noting that SBU has not always gotten what it sought from the senator, Kenny continued, "He is always very straightforward, very honest. You always know where you stand." She concluded by describing Flanagan as "a great senator and a great friend."
Flanagan lives in East Northport with his wife Lisa and their two sons, Sean and Jake, who attend the Northport-East Northport schools. Their daughter, Ashley, attends college.
The man who seems to be everywhere, who accomplishes so much on so many issues of concern to him and his constituents, is The Village Times Herald's Man of the Year for 2007.
Joe Darrow contributed to this story.