Written by Ron Scaglia Friday, 04 January 2013 00:00
After serving in the New York State Assembly for six years, the 17th Assembly District will shift drastically beginning next year. Whereas the district previously went from the western Nassau border to East Meadow, it now extends from East Meadow to the eastern border of Nassau, including a huge portion of Levittown. Tom McKevitt has represented the district since early in 2006 and will continue to do so with the new boundaries.
So what about his relationship with his new constituents?
“I am looking forward to a great relationship with them, trying to help our people,” McKevitt said. Some in Levittown may already know McKevitt, as serving the neighboring district, and others may have already met him while he has been out in the community. For those who haven’t, he hopes to meet everyone in his newly redefined district soon.
He says that he plans on visiting every elementary school within the district and that he wants the people he now represents to know that he has “an open door policy” and that those in his district should bring their issues and concerns to him.
“I really do look out for the interests of the constituents and I don’t bow to the interest groups,” McKevitt says. “I’m really looking out for the people I represent.”
The assemblyman comments that the communities that he will soon be representing are very similar to the communities he has represented for almost seven years, consisting of people who want a good education for their children who are trying to make life as affordable as possible. He says this has been getting more difficult during the past several years.
“The economy has been poor, so people just don’t have as much money,” he remarked. “Health care costs and pension costs have been a great stress on local governments so that creates the issue of taxes. That’s why the tax cap was enacted two years ago but that creates even greater stress on school districts and local governments to provide the basic services.”
Because of this, McKevitt says that one of his most important tasks is to fight in Albany to get as much state aid as possible for his district. He says that is going to become extremely important in the coming years, as the state doesn’t have enough revenue, so communities will be fighting over a decreasing amount of state aid. In addition, because of the costs in helping the state recover from Sandy, the amount of funds available figures to decrease as more state aid will be going to storm recovery as the Federal Government will not be providing enough money to cover all of the expenses. McKevitt was also hoping that state funds could go to job creation, but once again, the money needed for storm recovery may prohibit that.
“I’m going to fight hard as we always do to provide some needs for rebuilding but we can’t expect people to pay any more taxes,” McKevitt says.
The assemblyman has also been an outspoken critic of the Long Island Power Authority. He said that there is a lot of agreement among colleagues in state government that LIPA, as it exists today, is not a good situation, and that there is a strong possibility that a private utility will be running all of the electrical operations on Long Island. He adds that this needs to be done as soon as possible.
On a personal level, McKevitt and his wife, Samantha, who is a social studies teacher, have two young children. A devoted family man, McKevitt routinely makes a long daily commute back and forth to Albany so he doesn’t spend too much time from his family. McKevitt says that residents will soon learn that he is someone they can turn to for help.
“Whenever people call for help we never ask for their registration,” he commented. “We’re just there to help. That’s my job.”