Written by Ronald Scaglia, Rscaglia@antonnews.com Thursday, 28 March 2013 09:45
Recently, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano gave a State of the County speech for the fourth time. However, for Michael Venditto it was a first, as it was the first State of the County that he attended as a Nassau County Legislator, having being elected to the position last November. While that alone is significant for Venditto, so is the topic of helping the county recover from Hurricane Sandy, which Mangano spoke of in his speech.
“The 12th Legislative District was among the most, if not the most devastated area on Long Island,” Venditto recently said while speaking to the Massapequan Observer. “One step at a time, one resident at a time, we are trying to restore the area that we all love.”
The legislator remarked that he has been focused on getting the area cleaned up and helping residents get back into their homes and back to their daily lives. Towards that goal, Venditto says he’s worked in conjunction with various departments in the county and the Town of Oyster Bay to aid in the clean up effort, which he says have been successful.
“There have been many moments of devastation, but for every moment of devastation there have been moments of people coming together to get Massapequans back on their feet, and its been a source of pride to me,” he said.
Venditto also has worked to help Sandy victims in other ways. When contacted by residents about fees being charged to those rebuilding their homes after the storm, Venditto took action.
“One of the very first pieces of legislation that I sponsored and passed was a local law to waive all fees charged by Nassau County relating to the rebuilding efforts of our residents,” he said proudly.
The legislator personally brought a letter to a resident’s home, which stated that a refund for county fees related to Sandy rebuilding efforts would be refunded. He also walked around the district, knocking on doors, shaking hands and asking what help is needed. He has also met with civic associations and sought their input. In addition to cleaning up the devastation, Venditto said he also is focused on proactive measures if another devastating storm hits.
When Venditto decided to run in the special election that was held in November to fill the unexpired term of the late Peter Schmitt, he said he did so because he wanted to help. Little did he know that Sandy would be lurking and that his district would need him immediately.
“As a young person who is interested in being a lifelong resident, I viewed the opportunity to run for public office as an opportunity to give back to a community that has given so much to me,” he commented. “My goal is to help residents who are the people that I answer to. They lay out the game plan for me to follow and then I go out and execute that game plan.”
Being the son of Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, it would seem destined that he would someday hold elected office, but the legislator says that is not the case. A graduate of Hofstra University and St. John’s Law School, who was admitted to the bar in 2007, Venditto had settled into a position working as an attorney for the Town of Hempstead and he and his wife purchased a home in Massapequa with the intent of raising a family in the same area where Venditto grew up. Therefore, when the opportunity to run for legislator was presented, there were certainly compelling reasons for Venditto to pass on it, with the huge pay cut he would he be taking as a primary concern. However, he says he decided to take that pay cut and be of service to his hometown, and he has no regrets about doing so.
“Ever since I can remember, I’ve seen my father help residents in so many different ways,” Venditto said. “I’ve been motivated to do the same thing despite the pay decrease.”
As young homeowner, Venditto said it is important to him that his friends and family members are able to afford to stay in Nassau County. It is one of the primary reasons that he sought county office and supported Mangano’s budget, which did not increase county taxes.
Moving forward, Venditto says that the residents of his district will see him regularly as he makes it a priority to have personal contact with them. Despite the advances in technology, Venditto believes that a handshake means so much more than a blog post. He also will be gearing up for another campaign and says that he is working hard to earn the confidence of the electorate.
“What has be reaffirmed for me is that the residents of 12th Legislative District are a very informed electorate,” Venditto said. “They understand that elections are not about signs, bumper stickers and other paraphernalia. They’re more about issues of the community and deciding who is best fit to address the issues.”