As has been his custom for the last several years, New York State Assemblyman Marc Herbst kicked off his campaign with a fund raiser which he used as an opportunity to honor community activists and volunteers from each of the communities he represents in the 14th A.D., which encompasses Hicksville, Island Trees, Seaford, Wantagh, and parts of Bethpage, Jericho, Levittown, North Wantagh, and Plainview.
Herbst, who took office in 1994, noted that since his first election bid, the turnout for his campaign fund raiser has increased dramatically. This year it was standing room only at the Aug. 31 event, with an overflow of supporters standing outside of H.R Singleton's as he spoke about his time as a public official and honored those who have helped him along the way.
"Each and every one of you has had a major impact on me and keeps me focused on what this job is all about," said Herbst. "It's about helping people and doing the right thing and I've always tried to emphasize and remember where I came from and what the responsibility of a public official is and that is to help people and do the right thing and you don't do it alone."
Herbst explained that his job isn't just about going up to Albany to represent his constituents. He noted that he would be able to accomplish very little without the support of the people at home, "the people who do the quiet work day in and day out, making this a better place." He said that it is for this reason that he can't take credit for all that he has accomplished and this event honoring community leaders is his way of thanking all those who do so much for their communities.
The first award presented by Herbst was the Long Island Leadership Award, which was presented to an organization rather than an individual. He selected the Long Island Federation of Labor- AFL-CIO as this year's recipient of the award. According to Herbst this organization represents the working men and women of Long Island in various trades and construction fields. "If you look at Long Island as opposed to any other region, we have the finest roads, the finest infrastructure, the finest supermarkets, the finest everything, because the construction is done right," said Herbst. He noted that this labor organization is fighting not just for better wages, but fights for their retirees, for worker safety, and for apprenticeship and training programs. It was in recognition of what they do to help people in their field that Herbst selected the Long Island Federation of Labor as the recipient of the Long Island Leadership Award.
Among the individuals receiving the Community Leadership Awards were Richard Falta, of Seaford; Victoria Rosenberg, of Wantagh; and Kathleen Safrey, of Island Trees.
Herbst described Falta as one of the nicest people he has met since he took office. Herbst noted that Falta is an active member of the southern part of his district, serving as president of the Seaford Chamber of Commerce and the Massapequa Kiwanis, which includes Seaford in its jurisdiction. "He is a distinguished community member who has done so much with that organization, helping people, providing services for people in need and doing so much that is so important," said Herbst.
Of the next award recipient, Victoria Rosenberg, Herbst stated, "If you ignore her she is like a hurricane. If you pay attention to her you will ride the greatest wave ever and be successful." Herbst noted that Rosenberg tips officials off when something is stirring in the community before most people even know that it is happening. According to Herbst, Rosenberg is somebody who is dedicated to her community, the environment, historical preservation and to making sure things are always the best they can be. As a teacher, Rosenberg has spent over 30 years working with handicapped children, and became a part of a program to bring deaf and hearing impaired children into regular classrooms. She is also president of the Wantagh Seaford Homeowners Association and now heads up the Wantagh Foundation for Educational Excellence, a program that helps children find something to do and gives them activities so they stay out of trouble, and gets them positively involved in the community. "She is a truly wonderful person who has been great to me," said Herbst.
Thanking Herbst for the honor, Rosenberg stated, "Remember that when you do something for your community you do it for everybody in that community whether they are of your political stripe or not. It never bothered anybody that I am not somebody who should actually be here tonight, the important thing is that we work together, we care together."
Another teacher honored was Kathleen Safrey, who not only teaches in the Elmont School District but has spent the last eight years as a member of the Island Trees Board of Education, the last two as vice president. "She does her job day in and day out and just cares about the kids and makes sure they have the proper education and care," said Herbst. He went on to note that each year as the state legislature agrees upon a budget, invariably there are districts which complain even though they may have gotten more funding then any other district in this area. "When I look at school districts that I represent and I see one of them that works so hard, where the superintendent of schools is walking the halls picking up papers because it's not below him, where the board members are in and out of the classrooms on a day-to-day basis, there is no bonding that goes on for 30-40 years, everything is pay as you go, it's one of the best educational school districts that we have and it's because of people who care, dedicated people on the board of education," said Herbst. Safrey has worked with Herbst on many legislative initiatives through the PTA, making sure that the community is properly represented. Herbst noted, "She certainly doesn't look for the headlines or accolades, but she certainly should get them and I hope she does because she's great."
Herbst will be running for re-election on Nov. 7 on the Republican and Conservative Party lines. He is being challenged to a primary for the Independent Party nomination by Democrat Gary Burke.