Elections in New York are going to be a bit different this year.
Because of changes made this winter to the state law intended to have federal, state and local primary races fall on the same day, primary elections in Nassau County will be held on June 25.
Under Section 8, Chapter 100 of New York election law, covering dates and times for voting, primary elections will be held on the fourth Tuesday in June before every general election, with polls in Nassau County scheduled to be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For Nassau County’s 3rd Legislative District, which encompasses Valley Stream, Elmont and portions of the Five Towns, Monique Hardial, of Elmont, has mounted a primary challenge against Legislator Carrié Solages, of Valley Stream, who is seeking re-election to his fifth term.
The Herald spoke with both candidates about their legislative priorities for one of the most diverse districts in Nassau County.
As a four-time legislator and a local attorney, Carrié Solages, 40, has compiled an extensive background in county affairs.
He was positive about Nassau’s re-assessment effort, which he said is likely to benefit homeowners in his district more than elsewhere.
“I’m glad to say that 60 percent of my community has seen a 10 percent drop in their assessments,” Solages said, adding that under previous county executives before Democrat Laura Curran, homes in Elmont and parts of Valley Stream funded a higher portion of the county’s tax levy than those on the North Shore, or in communities where residents were more likely to habitually challenge their property values.
Solages also touted his efforts to provide tax-grievance advice to residents in his district, going so far as to host attorneys at his office to file tax grievances for them free of charge.
Additionally, he said he was proud that after years of requesting county assistance to look into traffic solutions in Elmont, particularly around its schools, safety measures were finally being implemented, with a traffic study of the area now under way.
“We have four new speed indicators on Elmont Road and Dutch Broadway,” he said, adding that another two were planned for closer to the Queens border. In total, he said, he had secured $1 million in safety improvements for Dutch Broadway.
Solages also said he was seeking ways to establish a community center at Dutch Broadway Park, and he had helped fund an environmental study of the facility.
Other scheduled infrastructure projects that he lauded include a redesign and repavement of North Central Avenue, the second of which is scheduled for the fall.
In Inwood, Solages said he was proud to have secured funding to demolish a crumbling property at 175 Roger Ave., as well as the refurbishment and reconstruction of the Inwood County Park administrative building after a fire, and securing funds for a police booth there to increase security and collect fees from non-county residents.
Solages also said he was able to procure three additional police and auxiliary police vehicles for Nassau County’s 4th and 5th police precincts, as well as secure grants for local fire departments to purchase equipment.
He helped establish the county Asian American Affairs Agency, and pushed to expand the capacity of the Office of Minority Affairs, which currently operate as separate entities, but are planned to work under the same umbrella.
Acknowledging the limits of county resources, Solages said he was introducing an adopt-a-roadway program, which is a proposed public-private partnership to help better maintain county roads.
Regarding the planned Belmont Arena, he said he was among the lawmakers advocating for a full-time Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont, and is pushing to have the project’s plans include the refurbishment of parks in Elmont and Valley Stream.
“Commuter issues have been very important for me,” he said, noting that he had also pushed for an expansion of Nassau Inter-County Express bus service in Elmont, with an additional line scheduled to start operating on June 23.
Monique Hardial, 37, a longtime Elmont resident and a staff attorney at Bernstein, Litowitz, Berger & Grossman LLP in Manhattan, is seeking a clean break from party politics that she said may have caused issues in the 3rd Legislative District to go unaddressed.
“I think a representative, by its very nature, is supposed to represent the people in the community,” she said, “and not one’s own political agenda or whatever agenda the party sets forth.”
She said she would like to take on the numerous reported instances of breast, lung and prostate cancers among Elmont residents, which, according to previous Herald reporting, are far higher than the statewide averages.
To tackle the crisis, Hardial said she would call for water testing and more frequent cleanups of Elmont’s water basins, which are often strewn with garbage.
“We can’t forget that these are very important environmental and social justice issues,” she said of the need to address the cancer rates. “This is not political football. These are people’s lives.”
Additionally, Hardial said she worries about the impact of Nassau’s countywide property-tax assessment overhaul, and called for more transparency in the process, which by the county’s own estimates would likely increase property taxes on 60 percent of homes. The remaining 40 percent, conversely, would see tax decreases.
The potential hikes are especially concerning, she said, in light of the perennially cash-strapped county’s road repavement schedules, which she believes have left Elmont lagging in street replacement and repair.
“We lack basic resources,” she said of her community and the county’s failure to generate sustainable revenue sources.
Hardial also took issue with the traffic and street-safety issues that have plagued Elmont, particularly around its schools, which until recently have seen little movement. In the past 10 years, motorists have killed three pedestrians in the area around Dutch Broadway and Elmont Road, with numerous other victims, most of whom were teenagers. She described the situation as “unacceptable.”
When it comes to countywide problems, Hardial said the Legislature sorely needs new voices, which she hoped would lead to improved hiring practices for county employees, and experts should be brought in to help solve the county’s financial woes.
“We need to get new people in positions where they’re qualified to do their jobs,” she said, and not what she described as the “patronage” hiring of politically connected people.
Current practices, which Hardial said were only hurting county finances or providing Band-Aid-like solutions to its budgetary shortfalls, include the use of red-light camera tickets and fees, which she likened to an additional tax, as well as the proliferation of payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, agreements, typically granted to large companies, while small businesses continue to see their property taxes increase.
“I want the overtaxed, overworked, voters of the 3rd Legislative District to know that they finally have a choice and that we should never settle for unsafe streets, toxins in our water and a county that tells us we aren’t paying our fair share of taxes,” she said. “I will hold every and anyone accountable for policies that hurt the people I serve and I’ll fight every day to keep our children safe.”