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VOTE411 Voter Guide

District #9

CHOOSE TWO CANDIDATES FROM BELOW TO COMPARE
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    Mal S. Nathan (DEM, WFP, WEP) Bay Constable

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    Richard J. Nicolello (REP, CON, IND, REF) County Legislator/ Attorney

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Every candidate in every Nassau County election for decades says something like: “We must reform the unjust property tax system to provide businesses and homeowners with a transparent, fair and clear assessment program going forward.” And it never happens. Other than repeating the above, what is your specific plan for fixing this system that continues a debt burden for Nassau County.

Integrity, honesty, trustworthiness are all qualities we expect from our politicians, yet Nassau County has had several elected officials that have faced criminal charges. What specifically will you do to implement accountability, transparency, checks and balances, and proper oversight? What concrete steps will you take to re-build the public’s trust?

Having the financial resources to live in Nassau County is becoming increasingly difficult. What strategic plans do you have on the county level to support and partner with the various municipalities to create more affordable housing for young adults, working families and seniors?

Redistricting and gerrymandering affect the choice of candidates that voters elect to represent them. What are your views for setting up an independent redistricting commission for Nassau County for the drawing of lines after the 2020 census? If you agree with setting up an independent redistricting commission, how would you make it a reality in Nassau County? If you are not for an independent redistricting commission, why not?

Sometimes you have to take one step backwards to move two forward. First, I would hire an experienced professional assessor to run the assessment process. Over the past eight years, we have seen experienced County employees laid off in favor of hiring politically connected law firms at a greater cost to taxpayers. I would allow the professional, experienced assessor to hire their own, qualified staff to do the work in-house. Next, I would reinstate annual assessments. Finally, with this professional staff in place, we could create defensible assessment rolls based on actual fair market values and defend those rolls from unworthy challenges.
Over the past few years, we have seen an unprecedented number of elected officials on Long Island carted away in handcuffs. We need to restore the public's faith in government. This starts with the appointment of an independent office run by an Inspector General to review and investigate contracts. The Inspector General would be appointed for a fixed term and therefore be immune to political swings. Next, we need to increase financial disclosure requirements for public officials in decision making roles and contractors who seek to do business with the County. Where I live, in the Town of North Hempstead, Town Board meetings are held in the evening so people who work during the day can attend. The agendas are posted in advance and the meetings are streamed live over the internet. The County should do the same. The County budget should also be posted online in an easily digestible format so constituents can see how their money is being spent.
In my district and in Nassau County generally, creating sustainable & transit-oriented development is necessary to grow our tax base and allow our children to remain Nassau residents. This begins with affordable housing. Many of the new housing units built in my district are luxury apartments that anyone of even moderate means cannot afford. As a legislator I will use tax incentives to encourage developers to dedicate more housing units in downtown areas near transportation hubs, like Mineola, as affordable housing units. We must also redefine what qualifies as "affordable." With respect to our seniors, we need to preserve and expand tax breaks for seniors who want to age in place. We also need to provide services that will help them do so. The Town of North Hempstead's Project Independence already offers such services, including transportation, screening for chronic conditions, health education, support groups and many others. We have a moral obligation to do the same.
I support an independent redistricting commission. My district, the 9th Legislative District, is one example of a bizarrely drawn political subdivision designed to advantage my opponent's party. Districts are supposed to be compact, contiguous and include communities of common interest. The 9th Legislative District is quite the opposite. It more resembles the open mouth of an excavator than something described as "compact and contiguous." Creating such a commission merely requires a vote by the County legislature and I would champion such legislation. The result would undoubtedly be more efficient representation and better government.
1. Assess each residential property based on the property's fair market value, as opposed to the fraction that is currently used. 2. Return to an elected assessor, who is accountable to the people. 3. Give the towns the responsibility for assessment. Smaller government units assess more accurately, as opposed to the county, which assesses more than 400,000 residential parcels. 4. Reevaluate residential properties every 3 or 4 years for more accurate assessed values.
My colleagues and I have already taken numerous steps to increase accountability, transparency and oversight. We mandated new financial disclosure requirements, including disclosure of political contributions, for all county lobbyists, vendors and consultants. We provided the Commissioner of Investigations with more staff and resources to conduct investigations. Nassau contracts are now reviewed by up to 10 agencies and departments before approval, including a Procurement Director who oversees all contracts. We expanded Legislative oversight of contracts. We reformed the county’s Code of Ethics and strengthened the Board of Ethics. We increased transparency by making contracts and requests to bid available online. These reforms make Nassau County one of the most transparent governments in New York State.
There is no "cookie cutter" approach to increasing housing opportunities. What works in some communities does not work in others. The Village of Mineola is an excellent example where vision and foresight are transforming and revitalizing a community. Under policies initiated by Mayor Jack Martins and continued by Mayor Strauss, there have been several major projects involving transit-oriented development that provides housing opportunities for young people, working families and seniors. The development fills a need for housing and has yielded tremendous benefits for the Mineola residential and business communities.
I would be willing to consider proposals to improve redistricting, as long as the redistricting is decided by elected officials who are answerable to the people, as opposed to unelected, unaccountable boards or commissions.

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