Political newcomer challenges senator
State Sen. John Bonacic is being challenged in his bid for a 10th two-year term by political newcomer Pramilla Malick.
Bonacic, 232 Tally Ho Road, Mount Hope, will be on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Reform Party lines on the Nov. 8 ballot in the 42nd Senate District. Malick, of 264 Jacobs Road, Westtown, will be on the Democratic line.
The 42nd Senate District includes parts of Ulster, Delaware, Sullivan and Orange counties. The Ulster County towns in the district are Denning, Gardiner, New Paltz, Rosendale, Shawangunk and Wawarsing.
Bonacic, 74, first was elected to the state Senate in November 1998. He was in the state Assembly from 1990 to 1998 and was an Orange County legislator from 1972 to 1989.
He has lived in the district since 1968, and he and his wife, Patricia, have two adult children.
Bonacic graduated from St. Joseph’s High School in West New York, N.J., in 1960; earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Iona College in New Rochelle in 1964; and received a law degree from Fordham Law School in Manhattan in 1968.
He is a member of the Middletown Elks Club.
Bonacic said state lawmakers need to be subject to the same spending limits that have been imposed on school districts and municipalities.
“We’re still trying to get a 2 percent statutory spending cap on state spending,” he said. “Since [Gov. Andrew] Cuomo’s been in, we’ve been under, but it’s not statutory.”
Bonacic also would like to have “a broader based tax to finance education,” he said.
“I have floated a state income tax to pay for education and not constantly rely on school property taxes,” he said. “That’s still a quest by me.”
The increased number of tax-exempt properties is another concern for Bonacic.
“We have people who apply for a minister’s license and they go buy [300 acres], and they say, ‘This is my church,’” he said. “All ... 300 acres [are] now tax-exempt. It doesn’t have to be paid to the municipality or the school district, so the burden to the rest of the taxpayers in that particular location goes up.”
Referring to the recent convictions of state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Bonacic also said he is upset that a “few bad apples have tainted us all.”
“I was the first member of the Republican conference to ask [former Majority Leader Joseph] Bruno and Skelos to step aside once there was a federal investigation,” he said. “I supported the revocation of pension benefits of an elected official convicted of a felony with respect to his public office.”
Malick, 52, is a community organizer for environmental issues. She has lived in the district for 15 years and with husband, Ibrahim, and has four adult children.
Malick graduated from Scranton (Pa.) Preparatory High School in 1982 and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Scranton in 1985.
She is a member of the groups Stop the Minisink Compressor Station and Protect Orange County.
“Corruption is the biggest issue facing our district,” she said, citing “payto-play politics and the tremendous undue influence of big-money special interests.”
Malick said state lawmakers need to pass a comprehensive ethics and campaign finance reforms.
“I have taken the ‘Demand Democracy’ pledge to work toward that,” she said. “I will not stop fighting until we get it because we need it. We need it for our democracy and we need it for our very survival.”
Malick contends special interests have gotten in the way of adopting effective legislation to protect residents.
“The reason why we have public policy, energy policy, climate change policy, that have deemed entire communities expendable, is because of our conflicts of interest and our problems with ethical leadership,” she said.
“I am also a big supporter of landowners’ rights, and I’m opposed to eminent domain for private gain,” Malick added. “So far, our state elected officials have looked the other way when faced with communities whose property is being seized left and right by private, for-profit companies ... and I believe it’s unconstitutional to seize private property for private profits.”
Malick said legislation she supports includes the New York Health Act, the Safe Staffing and Quality Care Act and the Child Victims Act.
State Sen. John Bonacic, left, is being challenged in the Nov. 8 election by Pramilla Malick