Democrat John Pinto, a North Merrick resident, has officially announced that he will challenge incumbent Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt (R) to represent New York's 17th Assembly District.
Pinto said the decision to enter the race stemmed from many factors, including his concern for families, particularly senior citizens, living in the district's communities of Albertson, Carle Place, East Meadow, East Williston, Floral Park, Garden City, Garden City Park, Herricks, Mineola, New Hyde Park, North Bellmore, North Merrick, Merrick, Roosevelt, Uniondale, Westbury and Williston Park. "Many are living on fixed incomes and struggling to make ends meet," he said. "I'm equally concerned about an emerging dynamic of couples working three or more jobs just to maintain the quality of life they're accustomed to. How did we get to a place where an adult couple needs three incomes to survive? I'm also concerned about our young people who are exiting Long Island in record numbers because they can't find affordable housing in order to live and work in Nassau County."
According to Pinto, "property taxes on Long Island are chasing many of us out of our homes. School taxes make up over 60 percent of our tax burden. New York State only funds approximately 17 percent of our school budget - less than neighboring Suffolk and Westchester counties and much less than the New York State average. We could no longer afford to ignore this problem."
Currently, Pinto is serving his 11th year on the North Merrick School Board, which includes two years as president, and his third year on the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School Districts. He strongly believes that the education of children is vitally important and characterizes ones community. However, with the high cost of gas, utilities and property tax increases through our special districts, Pinto said that "passing a school budget with even minimal increases is becoming more difficult each year."
Pinto stated that in his quest to improve deteriorating conditions of school athletic fields, uncovered accrued liability reserve accounts held by the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School and North Merrick School Districts that collectively contained more than $10 million. He relentlessly sought an avenue to return these exorbitant funds to the community. Pinto's proposition to give $4.4 million back to the community was approved by the voters during the May 2008 budget vote. "By transferring excess funds into the capital improvements account, the children of our community will reap the benefits and residents will save millions of dollars that would have otherwise had to have been paid for with a tax increase," said Pinto.
He continued, "I am particularly proud that after a long battle and with assistance from the New York State Comptroller's Office I was able to secure these funds and return them to the community."
Pinto states he has also been fighting to control the unfair burden placed on the community by the state via unfunded mandates and formulas designed to have our suburban working communities shoulder the weight of the state's education system. He has been working with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi on two exploratory committees - one to investigate the feasibility of consolidating special districts and the other investigating other methods of funding education.
Pinto is active in his community and various local sports leagues, serving as a commissioner, director and coach. He is also a member of the North Merrick School District's Camp Avenue School PTA.
If elected, Pinto intends to work full-time, serving the people of the 17th A.D. "By increasing the majority in Albany, Long Island Assemblymen will have a greater impact on setting policy. Further, as a member of the majority party, I should be able to bring greater support to our district and improve the quality of life of our communities," he said.
For more information, visit Pinto's website at www.Pinto4LowerTaxes.com.