Written by Ronald Scaglia Friday, 30 October 2009 00:00
The 15th Legislative District encompasses the communities of Island Trees, Levittown, Wantagh and portions of Seaford. Republican incumbent Dennis Dunne, Sr. is seeking election to his eighth consecutive term as legislator of the 15th District. Opposing Dunne is Democrat Glenn Stephenson. The same questions were asked to both candidates running for the two-year seat. There is no limit to the number of terms legislators may serve. Their stories appear below in alphabetical order. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Dennis Dunne, Sr., the current legislator from Nassau County’s 15th Legislative District is seeking re-election. Dunne, a lifelong resident of Levittown, was first elected in 1995 when the first elections for Nassau County Legislature were held and he began serving at the first session of that legislature in 1996. He is running on the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines.
“It has been an honor servicing the people of the 15th District and I hope to continue fighting for them,” Dunne said.
According to Dunne, taxes in the county are out of control and have become what he describes as a “runaway train.” He places the blame for this on the Suozzi administration and the Democrats in control of the Legislature. In particular, he takes issue with the energy tax and the current assessment system. Dunne states that the current assessment system costs the county taxpayers $100 million per year as the county has to pay back refunds.
“I want this administration to get their hands out of our pockets,” said Dunne when speaking about the Suozzi administration and the current Legislature. “They tax everything and anything. When they don’t tax, they put fees. We need to eliminate the 2.5 percent energy tax which was imposed by this administration. We also have to straighten out the assessment system. It is broken and needs to be fixed. Fixing it is a large step toward lowering our taxes and cleaning up the tax mess.”
Dunne says that he feels especially connected to this district as four generations of his family, his mother, himself, his son and his young grandchild all live in the 15th District. He strongly believes that he has been an active part of the community and has made himself accessible to the residents and has listened to their concerns. Furthermore, Dunne feels that he has done many things for his district, despite claims by his opponent that the district has been poorly represented by Dunne.
Said Dunne, “I am always at the high school football games, baseball, soccer and basketball games. I go where there’s going to be people to get a pulse for what’s going on in the community.”
According to Dunne he has done much for the residents and especially for veterans and current members of the military. He speaks proudly of his writing legislation to allow the military to use county facilities such as Eisenhower Park, free of charge when used for drills or for family gatherings. He also states that he wrote legislation to allow firefighters to attend Nassau Community College free of charge or to receive $1,000 in scholarship funds if they attend another college in Nassau County. His purpose in doing this was to retain firefighters that were trained and not lose those firefighters who would attend college elsewhere and leave the area. Dunne also states that he wrote legislation to enlarge the writing on prescription bottles and to clearly identify what the medicine is for, although he says that the Democrats have not allowed that to come to a committee. Dunne also takes credit for getting money for downtown Wantagh and for fighting to get preventive repair done at Cedar Creek Park.
As for the Lighthouse Project, Dunne says that he wants to see something built there that will provide jobs and he would like the Islanders to stay. However, he has concerns about turning over the 77 acres of the property at the end of the lease for one dollar. He says when he is asked to look at the proposal he will do so with the taxpayers in mind and he applauds Hempstead Town Supervisor for her due diligence. If the Lighthouse project is not built, Dunne says that he has listened to ideas from residents as to what could be built instead such as a dome stadium or even a NASCAR track.
Dennis Dunne has previously worked in the banking industry although he says he is now committed to being a legislator full time. He served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War during which he was wounded. He is a graduate of Nassau Community College and Hofstra University and attended C.W. Post for graduate school. Dunne is president of the Levittown/Island Trees Veterans Council and is president of the Marine Corps Coordinating Council. He is also a member of the American Legion, a past president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a fourth degree knight in the Knights of Columbus, the Seaford and Levittown Kiwanis Clubs and is involved with the Historical Society of Levittown and the Property Owners Association of Levittown.
Glenn Stephenson, an attorney who has lived in Seaford since 1983 and has practiced law in Seaford since 1984 is running to be elected as the legislator for Nassau County’s 15th Legislative District. Stephenson is running on the Democrat and Working Families Party lines.
“I’ve left retirement to run for the legislature to get my taxes down as well as everyone else’s,” said Stephenson about his reasons for seeking the position.
“However, I’ve found out that the 15th District has been represented by virtually no one. My opponent has taken advantage of the 2 to 1 registration in Republicans to Democrats and has done very little for the constituents. I will make myself available for the constituents.”
Stephenson specifically takes issue with the closing of Yours, Ours and Mine, for which he feels that Dunne did nothing to prevent. Furthermore, Stephenson claims that Dunne voted against improvements to Wantagh Park, Cedar Creek Park and downtown Wantagh.
“It’s time for the district to be represented by someone working for people, not party,” said Stephenson. “I’m a fighter who has fought back from severe medical problems. I’m not your typical politician. I will always do what is right, even if it is not popular. I will not have any trouble taking on the Democratic and Republican parties.”
Regarding political parties, Stephenson describes himself as an independent, conservative Democrat who is fiscally conservative. He says that although he is running as a Democrat, he says that he is not loyal to that party but is loyal to the residents.
“No one gave me any money,” said Stephenson. “I’m not beholden to anyone including the Democratic Party. I will evaluate what is best for the constituents.”
If elected, Stephenson says that he wants to continue to reduce waste, fraud and abuse. He feels that the Suozzi administration has done a good job in lowering the number of Nassau employees to the lowest amount in 30 years. He also says that the county got rid of partisan law contracts and replaced them with county lawyers, which helped to ease the taxpayers’ burden. And he feels that the percent of county taxes has been reduced from 24 percent to 19 percent, which is further evidence of progress being made.
However, Stephenson feels that more needs to be done to reduce taxes. He feels that high school taxes, which he calls “the 900 pound gorilla in the room,” are responsible for Long Island’s high property taxes. He believes that schools need help in budgeting and he calls for consolidation of back offices to reduce the number of principals and superintendents and the corresponding high salaries as well as for the consolidation of other areas such as purchasing and busing.
Stephenson also states that he would look into the viability of alternative taxes to help ease the property tax burden. However, he also strongly believes that Nassau County needs to bring more business and industry to Nassau.
“Every problem is an opportunity,” said Stephenson. “Some of our best inventions came from problems.”
Stephenson also states that Nassau needs more creative ideas to bring industry back. One program that he would like to look at is an immigration program in which someone could get a green card and a fast track toward citizenship by investing $1 million in a United States business and hiring five employees for five years.
Stephenson also said that he supports the Lighthouse Project at the site of the Nassau Coliseum although he concedes that there are some things that need to be worked out. He said he feels that this is a great opportunity to build a second suburbia.
Stephenson is an active member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in East Meadow. He is a vice president of the Seaford Kiwanis Club and a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He was the founder of Light of the Bronx, an organization with the purpose of raising funds to pay the tuition for disadvantaged kids to give them the opportunity to go to school. He has offered his legal services pro bono to community causes and proudly states that he has argued cases, three cases before the Supreme Court and defeated current Chief Justice John Roberts.