Democrat Jeffrey Saxon is challenging incumbent Denise Ford, a Republican, in the Legislative District 4 race.
Ford has been the district’s legislator since 2003, while Saxon, who serves as the assistant general counsel at the New York City Department of Correction, seeks his first term in an elected office.
District 4 encompasses the City of Long Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Point Lookout and Island Park, as well as parts of East Rockaway, Oceanside, Woodmere, Lawrence and Cedarhurst.
Recently, the Herald sent questions to both candidates on issues that might be of importance to local residents.
Herald: Given the county’s current financial situation, where are some areas that you could help to save money moving forward?
Ford: Efficiencies can be found in many departments, and the county should target areas where we can reduce costs or where services can be shared. I believe the county should hire candidates to fill-in the vacant but budgeted positions, especially in the job titles that bring in funding to the county, such as police medics, Consumer Affairs and in areas where the overtime is over-budget because of a lack of employees. Economic growth opportunities strengthen the tax base and strategic growth initiatives, including downtown development, must be pursued.
Saxon: First and foremost, I will work to end the culture of corruption in Nassau County, which costs the taxpayers untold millions in stolen funds every year. I will also support the consolidation of services between different levels of government. The massive, numerous bureaucracies are a waste of tax dollars. In addition, we must encourage building new housing that is both affordable and in desirable locations, with proximity to both transit options and walkable downtowns with retail and dining options. This will keep people on Long Island and grow the tax revenue base, thereby decreasing the tax burden on current homeowners.
Herald: Many residents have expressed concerns over their water bills, what is the best way to address this problem?
Ford: While the water suppliers do not fall under county jurisdiction, I am aware of the rising cost of water. The obvious answer is to try to reduce one’s water usage by installing water-saving devices, and I was proud to sponsor legislation to require moisture sensors for all automatic irrigation systems installed in the county. There have been many reasons why the water companies are charging more, such as a shift in the tax burden and the financing of infrastructure (this can be offset by state or federal grants). With the proposed change in state law requiring higher treatment standards for 1,4 dioxane in our drinking water, unless New York state dramatically increases funding for the cost of removing this chemical from contaminated wells, these costs will likely be passed on to the consumer. I was pleased to advocate for laws to limit this chemical in consumer products sold in New York, and to allow local water providers to sue the companies responsible for this contamination. Recovered funds would be used to help with the cleanup.
Saxon: The inequity and complexity of the water districts in Nassau is confounding and needs a complete overhaul. No resident should pay significantly more for water from their faucets than their neighbor’s faucet simply because of some arbitrary water districts that they have no control over. Nassau must conduct a full audit to compare the rates charged to residents in order to identify and address the inequities. Hearings should be held to determine why some suppliers are charging significantly more than others, and if price gouging is occurring. Ultimately, the county must either mandate standard rates for all water districts or consolidate the water districts into a single, countywide district, similar to Suffolk County.
Herald: The county’s tax-assessment system has been a major topic of discussion this year, what needs to be done to resolve the issues?
Ford: I believe an open discussion between the tax assessor and the legislators could help to resolve the many issues. We were aware that a re-assessment had to be done and, as elected officials, know what concerns the residents have. It is in the best interest of our constituents for us to have an open line to receive prompt responses to any query.
Saxon: The broken tax-assessment system had been an issue that went unaddressed for years. Former County Executive Ed Mangano promised to fix the broken system when he first ran in 2010. Instead he did nothing for eight years, while he and his cronies collected “donations” from the tax law firms that were filing grievances on behalf of residents. This left residents no choice but to use these same tax law firms to challenge their individual tax bills. This created a corrupt industry with taxpayers suffering the losses, and merely shifted a $2.7 billion tax burden from those who grieved their property taxes to those who did not.
As more and more residents grieved, the system was in danger of complete collapse. County Executive Laura Curran finally addressed the issue upon being elected in 2017 by implementing a full reassessment by an independent tax assessor. Experts who analyzed this reassessment have found the new assessments to be well within major professional standards of accuracy. Only now, after years of inaction while controlling the Legislature, do the Republicans cry foul and propose meaningless and nonsensical regulations to the new system. We can all agree that our taxes are way too high, but at least now the assessments are objective and equitable, according to professional standards.
Herald: Why would you be a better representative for your communities in District 4 than your opponent?
Ford: I have served this district for 16 years and am aware of the many issues and concerns, and continue to work to address them. My experience helps me to know where to go to solve a problem and get an answer. I am energized every day with the desire to serve my communities as best as I can. I am proud of the constituent services that are delivered by the staff in my office, as I believe in the importance of responding and doing. The residents know they can approach me at any time and I will be happy to hear what they have to say.
Saxon: It is time for a change in District 4, and in county government in general. For too long, my opponent and the Republicans in power have failed to address the important issues facing our community. Such inaction is detrimental to our community. Corruption has festered in Nassau for way too long, resulting in the theft of our tax dollars, and our county leaders have done nothing to address the problem. Public office is a trust that must not be abused or used to enrich office holders or others with political influence. I’m new to politics and will work to root out corruption or misappropriation of funds, and will hold any person accountable along the way. Additionally, there are so many other important issues we must be proactive about, but are not being adequately addressed. They include road safety on Lido Boulevard by the Long Beach Middle School; constructing bike lanes in Lido Beach and Atlantic Beach; infrastructure repair and improvement; encouraging the creation of affordable housing and revitalizing downtown areas to keep youth on Long Island; and ensuring clean, natural resources and turning away from fossil fuels to both help keep us healthy and combat climate change. The list goes on and on, and it is time to get to work. We need to work to ensure a prosperous future in Nassau for our own benefit and that of our children.