Republican Julie Killian talks Senate bid: 'I really felt I had to get in'

Republican Julie Killian talks Senate bid: 'I really felt I had to get in'

Former Rye councilwoman goes from sidelines to frontrunner for GOP nod in April 24 special election.




Since Julie Killian lost her first bid for New York State Senate two years ago, it’s never been far from her mind.

Now she’s looking for the Republican nomination again, this time in an April 24 special election against Democrat Shelley Mayer.

“I never, never stopped caring about the issues and never stopped really thinking about the seat,” Killian told The Journal News/lohud in her first interview since she entered the race for the state Senate’s 37th district on Westchester County’s eastern side. “But when I saw who the Democrats put up, I really felt I had to get in.”Mayer, who lives in Yonkers, is now serving in the state Assembly, the New York Legislature’s lower house. Killian said state government needs “fresh faces with new ideas and policies.”

“We can’t keep having the same people in charge and expect things to get better,” Killian said. “I don’t believe Shelley Mayer could change Albany, she is Albany.”

Killian, a mother of five, has a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Notre Dame and an M.B.A. in finance from NYU. She spent six years on the Rye City Council and had a career in the financial industry.

She filed her paperwork with the state to run on Monday, just two days before the party’s nominating convention.

Buoyed by support from state Republicans, Killian went from the sidelines to frontrunner status when candidate Sarmad Khojasteh dropped out of the race Monday and pledged to support Killian.

But, she doesn’t have a path to the nomination without opposition – former Yonkers inspector general Dan Schorr said he will stay in the race until the convention on Wednesday at Westchester Manor in Hastings-on-Hudson.

Killian ran for the seat in 2016 against Democrat George Latimer, who resigned and left the Senate seat vacant in January to become the new Westchester County executive. Latimer beat incumbent Republican Rob Astorino in a 2017 election some viewed as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

Trump and federal issues are expected to be a campaign talking point from Democrats again in a liberal-leaning area where the president isn’t popular.

“The election is not about Donald Trump no matter how much the Democrats want to make it about him,” Killian said. “And if that’s all they can talk about, it’s clear that they don’t have any solutions to deal with the problems in our community and they don’t understand the problems in our community.”

There has been a newly-sparked interest in local government and political issues, Killian said. She called that the main difference between this election and her last campaign.

“People are talking about issues more,” she said. “The 2016 election, the 2017 election, I think, got people talking more about what’s going on in our communities and what the problems are and what the solutions are.”

Her policy focus, she said, will be on launching a statewide campaign on the dangers of drugs and substance abuse. A more friendly business environment and equitable school-funding system will also be legislative priorities if elected, she said.

Because of the special election, the choice of a candidate will be made by Republican district leaders and there will be no primary.

Although Democrats have a distinct voter enrollment advantage within the district and have held the seat for years, Republicans view the race as winnable. The GOP has a 1-person majority with two vacant seats, including the 37th's.

The 37th District includes parts of Yonkers, White Plains and New Rochelle as well as Bedford.

State legislators serve two-year terms at an annual base salary of $79,500. Whoever wins the special election will face re-election in November.

, mlungariel@lohud.comPublished 6:00 a.m. ET Feb. 6, 2018 | Updated 8:12 a.m. ET Feb. 6, 2018