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The Point: Vote of confidence

Michael Dobie

It’s not easy to get an endorsement from the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum, and that remains true this cycle. In more than 40 state and federal races that Long Islanders will weigh in on in November, the group has endorsed 11 candidates.

The criteria, forum president Dick Amper said, is simple.

“If you’re an incumbent, you have to have done something good for the environment. If you’re a challenger, it has to be a priority,” Amper told The Point. “In this cycle, it would be hard to get an endorsement if you weren’t doing something about water quality.”

The forum supported Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in his re-election bid. In congressional races, it picked Democratic challenger Perry Gershon over incumbent Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, and endorsed first-term Democratic Rep. Thomas Suozzi, but made no choices in the races between GOP Rep. Peter King and Democratic challenger Liuba Grechen Shirley and between Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Democrat, and GOP challenger Ameer Benno.

In state legislative races, the forum endorsed only three incumbent state senators — Republican Ken LaValle and Democrats Todd Kaminsky and John Brooks. And one challenger — James Gaughran, a Democrat running against GOP incumbent Carl Marcellino, who touts his environmental record and chaired the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee from 1995 to 2008. Amper called the race “one of our highest-priority endorsements.”

In the Assembly, the forum went with Independence Party member Fred Thiele and Democrats Steve Englebright, Christine Pellegrino and Charles Lavine.

One of its most interesting picks was in the race for Suffolk County comptroller — Republican incumbent John Kennedy over challenger Jay Schneiderman, the Southampton Town supervisor who touts his environmental credentials.

“He does present himself that way but he doesn’t act that way,” Amper said of Schneiderman, noting in particular his support last year for a controversial luxury housing-seasonal golf community proposed for East Quogue. “He’s not pro-active about the environment, and if there’s some political reason to do otherwise, he does it.”

Kennedy, said Amper, objects to the county borrowing money from its drinking-water protection program, which results in Suffolk not preserving as much land as it could.