Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Friday, 05 February 2010 00:00
The 15th Assembly District (A.D.) is up for grabs with Democrat Matt Meng of East Norwich and Republican Michael Montesano of Glen Head scheduled to face off in a special election on Feb. 9.
The seat, which has been held by Republican Rob Walker since May 2005, became vacant as of midnight Jan. 2 when Walker stepped down to accept a position as Nassau County’s Deputy County Executive. As a result, the winner of next week’s special election will, under state law, have to run again in November 2010, which is when the seat would normally be up for re-election.
The 15th A.D. – the largest assembly district in Nassau County - is comprised of 40 election districts and communities within the Towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay and includes Locust Valley, Hicksville, Brookville, Old Brookville, Upper Brookville, Matinecock, Salisbury, Westbury, Old Westbury, Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, East Norwich and Glenwood Landing as well as parts of Glen Head, Jericho, Laurel Hollow, Syosset, Bethpage, Greenvale, East Hills, Woodbury, Muttontown, Oyster Bay Cove, Roslyn Harbor, Plainview and East Meadow.
Anton Community Newspapers recently interviewed both candidates; their profiles appear alphabetically below:
Matthew Meng, a resident of East Norwich since 1988, is the Democratic Party’s candidate of the 15th A.D.
Meng studied business management at Baruch College and worked for 10 years in the music industry as a director of manufacturing and planning. Meng currently owns and operates The Little Garage, a Huntington-based auto repair center specializing in German cars.
On a local front, Meng has served as president of the East Norwich Civic Association for the past 11 years and is co-founder and vice president of the United Civic Associations of North Oyster Bay. Meng is a board member of Friends of the Bay, co-founder and vice president of the Long Island Drinking Water Coalition’s “Aquifer Protection” and co-founder and secretary of the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum. Additionally, he is a member of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and the Nassau County HUB Smart Growth. Meng also serves on the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums Advisory Committee.
This is not Meng’s first time running for public office. In 2007, he ran for Oyster Bay Town Clerk (against Steve Labriola); in 2008, he ran for New York State’s 5th Senate District (against Carl Marcellino); and, last November, sought election to the Oyster Bay Town Board.
If elected to serve the 15th Assembly District, Meng said top on his “to-do” list is ending the additional tax burdens facing businesses and property owners; increasing job opportunities; supporting the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track; speeding up the rebuilding of the Oyster Bay Town’s Hicksville parking garage; and limiting the tax abatement Covanta (formerly ReFuel) receives. Meng said he would work on the aforementioned goals simultaneously.
While he realizes there are many challenges facing the district today, Meng said taxes are of utmost concern. To address this issue, Meng said he would “cap property taxes and reform unfunded mandates to protect the taxpayer while minimizing impact to the classrooms.”
Employment and transportation are also among the challenges Meng said he would tackle head-on. In regard to employment, Meng said he would “initiate government infrastructure job creation toward a community-based benefits program.” When it comes to transportation, the candidate said he would work to promote the LIRR’s Third Track as well as “multi-modal transportation/monorail links from Hempstead [that would] loop through the HUB/Lighthouse area with connections to [the] LIRR,” potentially via the Carle Place station.
Additionally, as assemblyman, Meng said he would work to stop what he refers to as “Albany’s voracious appetite for spending” and find ways to “work across party lines to do the work the people of New York want their elected officials to do.”
Meng said he is the “most qualified person” to serve the district because he knows and understands the issues facing the communities. His 20-plus years of voluntary service for the district as a civic and community leader, environmental leader and a small business owner, said Meng, make him the candidate “who understands the pain of survival on Long Island.”
If elected, Meng said he will “serve the people of the 15th Assembly District diligently [by ensuring] that the district grows economically, taxes are kept under control and that those tax dollars we do send to Albany return to the hard-working people in our towns and villages.” He added, “This election and this campaign need to be about the people in my district.”
Michael Montesano, a 20-year resident of Glen Head, is seeking election on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines.
Montesano received his associate’s degree in police science from Nassau Community College and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from St. John’s University before going on to earn a law degree from Queens College. He spent a decade working for the New York City Police Department as an officer and detective, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and EMT supervisor, and Emergency Medical Service investigator. Since 1990, he has been a private practice attorney.
Professionally, Montesano is a member of Phi Alpha Delta, the Columbian Lawyers Association of Nassau County, the New York State Fraternal Order of Police and the New York State Magistrates Association, as well as president of the Nassau County Magistrates Association and past president of the Criminal Courts Bar Association of Nassau County. He is a member of both the New York State and Nassau County Bar Associations and a former adjunct professor at New York Institute of Technology.
Locally, Montesano served as acting village justice for the Village of Roslyn Harbor and village prosecutor for Roslyn Harbor. He also sat on the North Shore School District Board of Education and was a member of the Glen Head Rotary Club. Montesano is currently involved with the Sons of Italy in America – Lodge 1016 and the American Society Italian Legion of Merit as well as a member of the Glen Cove Child Day Care Center’s Board of Directors.
This is not Montesano’s first time running for public office; in November 2009, he sought election to the Nassau County Legislature’s 18th District against Diane Yatauro, the current minority leader.
Montesano said he’s seeking election for the 15th A.D. because he wants to ensure that his children are afforded the “same opportunities” he had when it comes to finding a job and raising a family on Long Island. He views jobs and sky-high property taxes as the biggest issues facing the district today.
“Nassau County homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation … The high taxes we pay make it so expensive to live here [which] is causing seniors and young families to leave in droves,” Montesano said, adding, “It’s time state government started living within its means just as average people must do with their own family budgets.”
As assemblyman, Montesano said he will “vote against any state budget that raises taxes or spending by even a penny” and fight for “common sense solutions” to get the economy back on track, cap and cut property taxes and rein spending to reform government and make it work for the people again. “[New York] is facing a multibillion dollar deficit as our economy tries to rebound. Families all over are tightening their belts and doing more with less but not state government [leaders] who, last year, went on a reckless taxing and spending binge,” Montesano said.
Repealing the MTA tax is also top on Montesano’s “to-do” list. “I will work to ensure greater oversight of the MTA and rollback the MTA payroll tax that is punishing taxpayers and hurting job growth,” he said.
Additionally, Montesano said he will fight to restore cuts in aid made to school districts. “Nassau County taxpayers and school children shouldn’t have to suffer because state government cannot budget our money appropriately,” he said.
According to Montesano, he is the candidate of choice because he “will fight tooth and nail … for the hard-working taxpayers who make the 15th Assembly District a great place to live.”