Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Friday, 30 October 2009 00:00
The 14th Legislative District encompasses the communities of Farmingdale and portions of Massapequa, Old Bethpage, Plainview, Levittown and North Wantagh. Democratic incumbent Dave Mejias is seeking election to his fourth consecutive term as legislator of the 14th District. Opposing Mejias is Republican Joseph Belesi. The same questions were asked to both candidates running for the two-year seat. There is no limit to the number of terms legislators may serve. Their stories appear below in alphabetical order. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Longtime Farmingdale resident Joseph Belesi is a Vietnam veteran and retired Nassau County Police sergeant who currently works parttime for the Nassau County Legislature for Peter Schmitt. Belesi had an unsuccessful bid for this seat in 2007; however, is currently on the Republican and Conservative Party lines.
“I am the best candidate because I have experience my opponent does not have,” he said. “I know as a parent what impact runaway taxes have on our community.”
Belesi mentioned the fiscal condition of Nassau County as one of his campaign’s key issues.
“Nassau County is facing a $ 212 million deficit over the next four years,” he added. “The challenge is to eliminate that deficit by cutting spending. Three billion dollars is enough for county government to spend in any given year. Taxes are 43 percent higher than when the Democrats assumed control. The county deficit is 50 percent higher than it was. It is time for a new direction, time for change we can afford.”
He listed three other issues as: repealing the “onerous” home energy tax, freezing and fixing the “broken” reassessment system that he says costs Nassau taxpayers $100 million per year and cutting county spending by cutting wasteful spending.
“The 2.5 percent energy tax is an equal opportunity destroyer,” he said. “It does not discriminate. It does not care if you are a Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Independent or if you are Caucasian, African American, Latino or Asian. Every time you turn on the television, washing machine or refrigerator, or heat or light your home it hurts. We must repeal this unfair crushing tax.”
As for his favorite aspect of the 14th L.D., Belesi said “the diversity of people and communities and my family roots - especially, my grandchildren.”
“I want them to remain here and not be forced to leave because of high taxes,” he added.
Belesi is a member of the Italian Americans in Government Service (executive board), Sons of Italy Columbus Lodge 2143, Knights of Pythias, former Farmingdale Baseball and girls’ soccer coach and VIP member of the Superior Officer’s Association. In the Nassau County Police Department, Belesi served in the 5th and 6th Precincts and was assigned to the Bureau of Special Operations SWAT Team. While serving in the Vietnam War, he was awarded the Purple Heart. Belesi his wife Donna have three children, Jennifer, Laurie and Christopher and seven grandchildren.
Current Legislator Dave Mejias, the managing partner of Mejias Milgrim & Alvarado, P.C., is running on the Democratic, Independence, Working Families parties.
“I have a proven record of independent leadership, even fighting my own party when I thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I have fought my own party to defeat a 90 percent pay raise, twice, passed the toughest Megan’s Laws in New York State and passed balanced budgets freezing taxes five out of the last six years. I will continue to fight machine politics, putting people before political parties.”
Some challenges Mejias anticipates if re-elected include finding “creative ways to save money.”
“Recently, I fought to put nonviolent inmates that taxpayers pay to put up at the jail to work for the county,” he added. “Cutting spending is the only way we can continue to freeze taxes. Last year I held up the county budget until another $25 million was cut. Since I have been in office, the county portion of your property tax has gone from 23 percent to 16 percent of your tax bill.”
Regarding voting in favor of the home energy tax, Mejias said it was necessary due to the “international downturn in the economy” hitting Nassau County particularly hard.
“The dramatic decrease in sales tax created a $130 million hole in the budget,” he added. “I refused to fix the budget by raising taxes. We simply had to find another way.”
Mejias also penned the first heroin notification law in the country, requiring law enforcement to inform school districts if a heroin arrest is made.
He said it is an honor to represent the area that he grew up in and spent his entire life in.
“Working together with residents, I have delivered grants to the district for new playgrounds, traffic lights, speed monitoring devices, and life-saving equipment for our fire departments,” he said. “I have secured over $1.4 million for my district since I came into office in 2004. In addition, I have delivered over $500,000 in federal grant money to the Village of Farmingdale for needed improvements such as the Village Green and gazebo, streetscaping and downtown revitalization, park improvements, the creation of a pocket park at the north end of Main Street, as well as repaving of roads.”
Mejias is involved in the Farmingdale Fire Department, Rolling Thunder, Greater Long Island Running Club, Sons of Italy #2143, Farmingdale Chamber of Commerce, Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale and Long Island Dog. He was recently named the Parents for Megan’s Law 2009 Champion for Children.