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Meet The Candidates For Legislator

Maglione, Venditto vie to win special election

Joanne Maglione, 42, and Michael Venditto, 31, are challenging each other for the position of legislator from the 12th Legislative District. The winner of the special election to be held on Election Day, November 6, will become only the second person to hold the position which Peter Schmitt occupied from the inception of the legislature in 1996, until his death earlier this month.

Maglione is a former deputy county attorney and currently works at the law firm of Jaspan Schlesinger in Garden City. She is running on the Democratic line, although she describes herself as “a lifelong Republican.” Maglione is a graduate of SUNY Albany and Brooklyn Law School, She and her husband live in Massapequa Park with their two children, Dominick, 7, and Paul, 4.

“I think my community deserves someone that represents them and is living with the issues that concern us all,” said Maglione on why she is seeking to become a legislator. “I’m a homeowner, a taxpayer and a mom. I’d like to be the person who is their voice in the community.”

Venditto, who is running on the Republican line, is the son of Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. He previously served as a deputy town attorney with the Town of Hempstead and is currently the counsel to the Town Board of Hempstead. He is a graduate of Farmingdale High School, Hofstra University, and St. John’s Law School. He and his wife, Antonella, live in Massapequa.

“I’m a lifelong resident of the Massapequas,” said Venditto about his seeking elected office. “I understand that the people of this area are afforded many opportunities and privileges each and every day and I’m one of the people who has benefited from this community, I now have an opportunity to give back via public service. I’d like to take that opportunity and run with it.”

When asked what they feel is the main issue facing Nassau County, both candidates responded with the same answer: taxes. However, they differ on the solution for that problem. Maglione criticized County Executive Ed Mangano for failing to fix the assessment system and encouraging grievances. By contrast, Venditto praised Mangano for his policies and put the blame for high property taxes on the Suozzi administration.

“The most obvious way to fix the tax problem is the assessments,” said Maglione. “What Mangano chose to do is to not deal with the assessment but with the grievance process and really only focus on that part. He encourages grievances. He settles everything really quick. All that basically did was shift the burden from one taxpayer to another. The burden got shifted. The real winners were the tax attorneys because they got their legal fees. What’s starting to come out now is those same tax attorneys contributed to Mangano’s campaign and the Republican Party. They’re the ones who are winning.”

Maglione added that because of this, many taxpayers saw an increase in their property tax bills. By contrast, Venditto staunchly defended Mangano and his policies.

“The previous decade in Nassau County featured an administration that would spend lavishly and then ask the taxpayers to foot the bill,” said Venditto. “Since Mangano took the helm, he has cut it where the previous administration failed to do so. From the very moment he took office, he started cutting right away. He signed a document that eliminated a 2.5 percent home energy tax that had been plaguing residents in the prior years and from that point on he kept it going - reduction in employees, reductions in appointed positions and consolidations on various departments. He eliminated vehicles that were of little or no use. He is restoring Nassau County to its rightful status as the number one suburb in America and I’m very eager to join his team.”

Venditto added that as a legislator, he would encourage residents to grieve their taxes if they feel they are assessed too high and would help them do so.

With the Islanders lease at the Nassau Coliseum expiring in less than three years, the development of that area is another significant topic in the county. Both candidates expressed a desire to keep the team in Nassau County and both said that a redevelopment of the area would bring much needed jobs and revenue. Venditto said that taxpayers expressed a clear desire to not use public money for a new arena and therefore he would support a privately funded redevelopment.

“The residents spoke out in a very clear way that public dollars are not for use,” Venditto commented. “There has been a rfp [request for proposals.] The county has been receiving proposals to the extent that we can find a reasonable plan that’s considerate of taxpayers’ needs. Private development is the way to go.”

Venditto, who said he has been an Islanders fan since he was five, stated that the Lighthouse Project was not feasible, just as building a single-family home in the middle of Manhattan is not feasible. However, he said that he wants to see a venue for the Islanders, as well as concerts and other events.

Maglione also said that she wants to see the Islanders stay, and added that it is important that the NHL team remain here after their lease expires. She also said that the area should be a hub for housing, retail businesses and restaurants.  

“I wonder why we have this big gapping hole and wonder why it hasn’t been developed,” she stated. “I think that it hasn’t been developed and that shows a real lack of economic development and imagination. We had it both ways, they were going to pay for it and then we were going to pay for it, I can bring a fresh voice. Let’s not worry about who is going to get credit for it. Let’s get it done.”

As for what they would do in Massapequa, Maglione expressed a desire to bring more businesses to the area, and in particular, wants to fill the closed stores and car dealerships on Merrick Road and Broadway. She said that the problem is taxes and added that the Sunrise Mall has received a 40 percent reduction in its taxes during the past year.

“Who’s paying for that - the smaller businesses,” she said  “The burden is shifted.”

Maglione also said that she wants to tackle the problem of heroin abuse in the area. She said she is for community outreach programs in the schools, and also says that the recent cuts to Nassau County Police removed a department that would tackle this issue and she said she is “not crazy” about the recent consolidation of police precincts.

“I do know that the Seventh Precinct is dealing with a wider range of crime that’s out of my district and that could never be good,” Maglione explained and also added that if officers are more focused on other areas, it will make the Massapequas less safe. Maglione also said if elected legislator, she would look into the traffic signals on Sunrise Highway and seek a solution for the traffic congestion on the major roadway.

Venditto said that the key is to have more officers on the streets, which is what Police Commissioner Dale said would be the result of the consolidation. He also added that he would work to maintain the quality of life in the Massapequas.

“One thing that Peter stood for was the preservation of the suburban quality of life,” said Venditto about the work of Peter Schmitt.  “I would want to build on his legacy to ensure that families, singles and seniors have the ability to live, work and stay in the Massapequa area.  I would continue the movement that the county executive has pushed towards fiscal responsibility. The more fiscally responsible you are, the more efficient you can make county government, the more businesses will stay and undertake construction jobs, and the more that will benefit taxpayers. I think Massapequa could continue to flourish.”