This November, Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Elmont) became Nassau County’s first Haitian American elected official after a hard-fought victory over the Third Legislative District incumbent John Ciotti. Raised on Long Island by Haitian parents, Solages overcame the struggles of a second-generation immigrant to serve as a prosecutor in the Bronx and the head of the Nassau County Commission on Human Rights before running for the legislature.
Long Island Wins recently caught up with Solages to ask about his background, the economy, and racism he encountered during his campaign:
LIW: The area you represent is one of the most diverse on Long Island, with immigrants from around the world. Did your campaign encourage immigrant communities to vote?
According to a recent letter from Councilman Ambrosino, the efforts and vision of the people of Elmont were the “foundation” of the proposed rezoning plan for Hempstead Turnpike. Why then has the “mortar” of our rebuilding plan, permitting residential over retail development, been completely stripped away without any notice?
If years of blood, sweat and tears from the Elmont community was not enough of a mandate to have this central provision included, then how can we be optimistic that showing up to a Town Board hearing on January 24th, minutes before a resolution will be drafted and submitted produce the result that we have all consented would be the right thing for our residents and businesses, now and for generations to come?
As is custom, Governor Cuomo gave his State of the State speech in which New York governors traditionally outline where we stand and where they hope to take us. The news outlets naturally put their own spin on things so although there’s not enough room here to touch on all aspects of the speech, I thought it would be good to review a few major ones together.
Much attention was paid to the Governor’s call for a constitutional amendment legalizing non-Indian casino gambling and the plan to build a convention center, casino and hotel complex at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Constitutional amendments have to be approved twice by the legislature, then once in public referendum so I think it will be difficult to build that kind of consensus.
I love the holiday season but like many of you, there are some time-consuming, tedious aspects that I can do without. Shopping is definitely not my bag but, more than anything else, the jumble of lights that patiently waits for me in the attic, tangled beyond recognition, is what annually unsettles me.
Regardless, I have been officially designated the master de-tangler of all twisted strands in our household, and it’s a title I hold proudly. As I sit down with a cup of coffee to contemplate my approach, they seem as great a hassle as any obstacle I routinely face in Albany and I usually spend several hours procrastinating, asking myself why I didn’t take more care in putting them away. I know that I could simply throw them all away and buy new ones but I resist the temptation as I know full-well the problem will recreate itself next holiday season.
The voters of Floral Park have been generous to Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy in elections over the past decade. In recent years, she has not returned it in kind. She was aggressively in favor of the third track proposal by the MTA and now strongly favors a full-fledged casino at Belmont Park, both positions very much opposed by an overwhelming majority of the residents of Floral Park and Bellerose. I wholeheartedly support the effort to stop the casino. I agree with those who believe it will expose Floral Park to enormous harm: lower property values, increased crime, moral threats to our children and environmental disaster. The tidal wave of increased traffic that a casino will bring to our area will crush the communities surrounding Belmont Park.
Ms. McCarthy envisions the casino as a source of jobs and tax revenues, while apparently ignoring its negative consequences or not caring about them. The crush of thousands of additional vehicles on our roads will harm not just Floral Park and Elmont but will spread far and wide along the Cross Island Parkway corridor, like a toxic spill.
Recent Op-Ed pieces in prominent newspapers have suggested that with proper regulatory oversight, hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” can be accomplished safely in New York, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and bringing much needed economic benefits to hard-hit areas of the state. If the issue was that simple, and if the statements were true, surely everyone would be in favor.
But the facts don’t support these statements, and the issue is not as simple as the TV ads would have citizens believe. Fracking is an inherently dangerous and destructive extreme form of energy extraction that brings with it a myriad of serious environmental and economic problems. Now that we have the opportunity to see how fracking has actually impacted citizens in Pennsylvania and other states, we can more easily distinguish fact from fantasy and make smarter choices for New York.
Once again a selfish and intransigent Tea Party brought the nation to the brink of disaster. I’ve gotten dizzy watching House Republicans flip-flop and backtrack in their efforts to win political points.
This is a victory for everyday citizens – from the scores of job seekers who attended my career fair at Hofstra University this month and told me of the importance of unemployment insurance, to the thousands of Americans who tweeted about how this whole charade could bring painful hardship to their families.
On behalf of all the members of The Elmont Chamber of Commerce, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire Elmont community for supporting all of our local businesses in 2011. Reflecting on the year that has passed, the Elmont Chamber experienced a renaissance in 2011 where we were able to bring to our community some quality new events like the Elmont Farmer’s Market.
These events would not have been possible without the support of the Elmont community.
As a former resident of Elmont I feel it is imperative that I speak out against the proposal to possibly build a new Nassau Coliseum or allow a casino to be built on the present site of Belmont Race Track. Many issues come to mind when discussing building any high volume venue along that section of Hempstead Turnpike, which is an already very dangerous road. Politicians seem to feel that the economic gains of a high draw venue would benefit the community and never seemed to give any consideration to traffic, crime, noise which would all increase and further add to an already decrease in the “Quality of Life” in Elmont.
Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont and Franklin Square was never designed to handle the high volume of traffic, which presently uses the road. Widening the road would be the only way to make it safer as I was told by county and state experts. More police officers might be needed to handle higher pedestrian and vehicular traffic as well as a possible rise in crime which all have occurred at the site in question. Could Nassau County support more officers?
I couldn’t wait to sit down and pen this column, and to be frank, I wasn’t sure the day would ever come. The subject is a tax cut for the middle class, an issue discussed relentlessly by politicians, but one that has proven to be a rare and elusive animal in the world of real policy. Now, after over 50 years of increased New York State income taxes, it became a reality this past week in Albany.
I am pleased to inform you that the Senate, Assembly and Governor worked together to bring you the Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Creation Bill that officially reduces taxes for more than 4 million New Yorkers to the lowest point in 58 years. It also eliminates the MTA payroll tax for 78 percent of those employers currently paying it and further stimulates job growth by providing tax credits for hiring young people and by investing heavily in rebuilding New York’s decaying infrastructure.
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