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District #7

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    Karen Blitz (DEM, WFP, WEP) Physician

  • Howard J. Kopel (REP, CON, IND, TRP, REF) Attorney

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Biographical Information

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?

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City/Town of Residence Rockville Centre
The grievance system in the county is flawed and disproportionately affects the elderly. While the county has tried to educate residents on how to grieve, no homeowner should need to go through this process every year, and those who don't should not be penalized. 61% of homeowners win their grievances, but the 39% that either don't grieve see their taxes rise dramatically to make up for lost tax dollars on those that did, and Nassau is already one of the most heavily taxed counties in the country. We need to end the grievance process, and further look into handling the county guarantee while ensuring that our school districts do not take on any added financial pressure. The current system is riddled with corruption and we need to focus on the wellbeing of the taxpayers. There is no quick perfect fix, but homeowners being penalized for the county's failure to properly assess their home value in the first place should not be tolerated. Property should be assessed fairly and routinely.
As a physician who has been trained scientifically to look at issues and find solutions without any outside influence or special interest, I am wired to work for and in the interests of those around me. I think the voters have become educated over the last several years about how political corruption affects them with many of our elected officials being charged with crimes. Their corruption and mismanagement are part of the reason Nassau County’s taxes are so high. So now we clearly see the need for oversight. To ensure that we have a government that is transparent and fair, I believe that an independent inspector general to review and investigate contracts would be an important step in providing the necessary oversight. Ethics should be handled from outside the government, politicians should not have a hand in selecting those who oversee their actions. Who and how we hire needs to be monitored closely.
Our young adults are our most valuable resource, and we need to develop a plan to ensure they stay on Long Island. They are the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, and until we can give them incentive to remain here, they will still innovate and create, but off of the Island. I would encourage municipalities to offer tax incentives for young small business owners and entrepreneurs, giving them the opportunity to live here, contribute to our economy and help improve our community. Beyond that, municipalities need to work with us so that our senior citizens and people on fixed incomes have more housing options. We need to foster the ability for these groups to successfully participate in our community, and develop affordable housing. The best communities have all generations living together, and I want to ensure that our communities can do the same.
Politicians should not be allowed to pick and choose which voters they represent; the voter should choose their representatives. The issue in Nassau County is that politicians, Republicans especially, have been able to draw their own district lines, incorporating more voters from their own party, and breaking communities inclined to vote against them into other districts. Legislative District 7 is one of the most gerrymandered on Long Island, as the Five Towns have been carved up to serve those in office. I fully support an independent redistricting committee to draw the lines after the census. My proposal would create an independent committee, audited by an outside organization, open to all qualified and registered voters to apply for. The committee would consist of members from both parties, with no conflicts of interest, and will work to finally end the self serving political gerrymandering in the county.
City/Town of Residence Lawrence, New York
Prior Civic Service Ia am involved in numerous local charities and civic organizations
I conceived and helped pass a system for commercial assessments that ends borrowing of approximately $80 million a year. this has been called the most important financial reform in recent Nassau history.

The basic cause of the current imbalance is the failure to reassess periodically. This results in imbalances between those that grieve and those that do not, and also a failure to take into account neighborhood changes and other factors that should result in revisions. I believe in, and will push for a regular system of reappraisals of property.

Another important needed change is to go to "full value" assessment, instead of the "fractional assessment" that we now have. Residents are assessed at .25% of value. Why not simply state the value and use that number, to enhance transparency?

Finally, we need to end the "County Guarantee" that results in a shift of burdens among jurisdictions and classes, with no taxpayer oversight or input.

Many of these changes need State cooperation.
This is a false issue manufactured for political purposes. The vast majority of elected officials on both sides of the aisle are honest, sincere and hardworking. There will always be individuals that are "bad apples." We already have a freely elected District Attorney, whose job it is to find these individuals and prosecute them. To explode this into a crisis is unfair to all of the other elected officials.

The fact that the current County Executive is under indictment and is a Republican says nothing at all about other Republicans. Similarly, in the Legislature's history, i believe that 5 Legislators have been arrested for various reasons. What does this say about other Democrats on the Legislature? Again, of course, nothing!

Rebuilding the public trust will require less crass exploitation by the media and other interested parties, who should, at every turn, point out the above.
The County needs to enable businesses to thrive, to provide working families with resources. Also tax policies can be structured to encourage work force housing, as well as housing that is close to transit hubs.

Perhaps the most important thing that the County can do is to overhaul the real estate tax system in the manner described above.
This is a difficult issue that has often been litigated. The internet is rife with articles espousing both sides of the issue.

The main problem with appointing an "independent" commission is the very idea of independence. All knowledgeable prospective members are smart and educated and will have opinions. The members are typically appointed by elected officials with party affiliations, thus making the idea of independence illusory.

I am always ready to hear plans that overcome the inherent problems. Meanwhile, the best that we can do is to try to adhere faithfully to the guidelines set forth in federal and state law, as interpreted by the courts. logo


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