Republican Dave McDonough won the special election in the 19th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Levittown, North Wantagh, Bellmore, Merrick, South Freeport, Baldwin Harbor and Island Park, by a margin of just over 250 votes over his opponent, Democrat Steve November. The numbers as of Tuesday night showed that McDonough received 5,440 votes and November had 5,186.
Although he never dreamed of running for political office in the past, McDonough said that his experiences throughout the past several years in community service, where he worked on many projects in Merrick, were certainly enjoyable and he looks forward to continuing those services on a larger scale in Albany.
"When this opportunity came along, I thought about it and realized, even though I don't need to do it financially, I have really enjoyed what I have been doing [in Merrick] and thought I could do more for a wider area." McDonough said.
In Levittown, McDonough said that he wants to work towards easing some of the traffic tension in the area, particularly on Hempstead Turnpike, which he said has turned into a thoroughfare. Having worked with the Department of Transportation on a similar situation in Merrick, where residents found Sunrise Highway to have the same problem, McDonough said he hopes to solve the problem in Levittown as well, either by placing better signage near parkway entrances, installing a better traffic crossing system with extended lights or just by involving the community on a greater scale. In addition to depleting the traffic congestion, McDonough wants to work with fellow legislators to further revitalize and beautify the community.
"Something can be done about [the traffic problem], even if it's better signage; even if it's more community involvement and letting people know, this is a community, let's respect it as we go through there," he said. "Beautifying it will help tremendously."
McDonough added that health insurance and health care is also a tremendous concern.
"I think the State of New York has probably the best health system of any state in the union," he said, "but that doesn't mean it can't be improved."
McDonough added that he looks forward to working in a very bipartisan manner. "I think that this is one of the unique times where an awful lot will be done because of that sense that we've got to work together. I don't believe that being in the minority cripples you at all because I strongly believe things get done through the relationships that are made and I'm very fortunate that I have some of those relationships."
While he was campaigning, McDonough said that the main thing he was going to do if elected was listen to residents. Saying that he learned a lot about the community from his fellow legislators who are in office, including his predecessor Kate Murray, current town clerk and Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes; McDonough said listening to residents is the most important aspect of the position.
"I'm going to listen. That's the first thing I'm going to do because I think that everybody in any type of public service - whether it's government or community associations - you have to listen to find out what is it that somebody's concerned about. Try not to tell them what they should be concerned about, listen first."
The new assemblyman noted that he feels great about his victory and thanks the residents in the 19th Assembly District for their support.
"I am looking forward to continuing to do what I've been doing for the past 20 years in community service and now, being able to represent a larger group of people and trying to serve their needs," he said. "I look forward to this great opportunity."
McDonough is a 35-year resident of Merrick and continues to live in that community with his wife Carolyn. The couple has three children.