Written by Eric Holden Friday, 14 October 2011 00:00
The absence of Norma L. Gonsalves (13th District) and Fred. J Jones (19th District) from the Oct. 4 Nassau County Candidates Forum at East Meadow Public Library left Dennis Dunne (15th District) as the lone Republican candidate present at the debate.
According to the League of Women Voters of East Nassau Voter Service Director Norma Schaeffer, Gonsalves could not attend the debate because she was being honored at a separate event and Jones was absent due to short notice. “There was a very small window for replies and letters going out,” Schaeffer said.
The candidates who attended the forum were Democrats Patricia M. Maher (13th District), Ethan D. Irwin (15th District), David W. Denenberg (19th District) and Republican Dennis Dunne (15th District).
Nassau County residents who were present at the debate brought up a number of issues, including the proposed privatization of county buses, voter redistricting, plans for the future of Nassau Coliseum and concerns about potential layoffs of low-wage union workers.
“There are things that are nice to have and things that are necessities,” Dunne responded. “In these economic times, you have to tighten your belt and live within your means. Under the previous administration, if it moved, they taxed it. If it didn’t move, they taxed it. I got rid of the energy tax. I got rid of the 3.9 tax increases for 2010, 2011, 2012 and so on. I’m not going to raise your taxes.”
Maher, who was representing the district that covers East Meadow, Salisbury, North Bellmore, North Merrick and Levittown, placed her focus on putting an end to redistricting plans. “I want to watch your tax dollars wisely,” Maher said. “I want to sit with the new legislator, which will be the Democratic majority come January. We will make sure East Meadow is not divided and you have my word on that. My opponent is costing you money right now. $310 million in budget deficit, two police precincts closing, heroin task force gone and there’s going to be no holiday patrol. If you give me a chance, I’ll try to create jobs. I’ll save your jobs, and without a doubt, I’ll try to create tax business incentives.”
Irwin, the Democratic opponent running for the legislative district representing Island Trees, Levittown and Wantagh, said in his closing statement that property taxes have gone up by 70 percent and the budget has increased by $500 million dollars since Dunne took office 16 years ago. “I hear Mr. Dunne say that the increases were caused by Suozzi, but I’m not running against anyone but Mr. Dunne,” Irwin said. “He has been in office for 16 years and in that time, he has drafted only one piece of legislation. As a legislator, your job is to draft legislation, so by that definition, Mr. Dunne hasn’t been doing his job. If you’re looking for a new direction for Nassau County and live in my district, I ask that you vote for me on Nov. 8.”
Denenberg, who is running for a seat in the district that includes Bellmore, Merrick, Point Lookout, Seaford, Wantagh and Freeport, reminded residents of his “doors-always-open” approach to public service. “Since I’ve been in office, I’ve always felt that what you really owe to your constituents is to be accessible, responsive and available,” Denenberg said.
“Through over 400 public meetings, I have been as available and accessible as possible. We have a real issue right now. How sustainable is Nassau County? There is a lack of jobs, property taxes. Mr. Dunne says he never raised your taxes, but he voted for three straight years to raise your taxes at the end of the Gulotta years.
“Last year, we defeated a 0.5 percent sales tax that the Republican majority was proposing. They have raised taxes and fees. Let’s talk real solutions and stop pointing fingers,” said Denenberg.