Long Island Business Council

Long Island Business Council Held Nassau County Candidates Forum on Tuesday, September 19th

The Long Island Business Council held a Nassau County Candidates Forum on Tuesdayat the East Farmingdale Fire Department with 120 small business and community leaders. The forum featured Republican Candidate Jack Martins and Democratic Candidate Laura Curran for County Executive, as well as Republican, Reform, and Conservative Candidate Steve Labriola and Democratic Candidate Jack Schnirman for Comptroller. The forum was moderated by Vision Long Island’s Director Eric Alexander after introductions were made by Long Island Business Council’s Nassau Chair Richard Bivone and Suffolk Chair Robert Fonti.

Both opening remarks, as well as Q&A period with questions culled from attendees, provided a great opportunity to hear from candidates on their positions, with a focus on small businesses, as we draw nearer to the upcoming November 7 election. Key topics included: reforming the property tax assessment system, balancing the budget, reducing fees, tax issues such as tax sharing and getting a fair share of internet taxes, reforms and checks and balances in the wake of widespread Nassau County government corruption, public transportation funding including NICE Bus, Nassau as a sanctuary city, Bay Park Ocean Outfall Pipe and the surge-barrier gates – a LI resiliency measure, police resources, infrastructure projects – such as the Nassau Hub, audit priorities, Nassau County IDA policiescontract system reforms, and more.

While opposing candidates in both races certainly have different positions and plans if elected to take office on January 1, 2018, there was a consensus that we need to look forward and not to the past to ensure Nassau can face some of the daunting challenges that lie ahead. Here are some remark highlights:

“If this is going to be an interview since we are dealing with the business council, then let’s look at it from that perspective. Not only what our skills sets are that we bring to the table, what are our experience is, but also how we plan to challenge the issues that are before us and we are all too aware. I do believe Nassau County’s best days are ahead of us, not behind us.” 
– Nassau County Executive Republican Candidate Jack Martins

“If I could build a time machine or wave a magic wind I would go back in time and give it [the property tax assessment system] to the towns because I agree with Jack. I think the smaller entities are closer to the ground. However, this has been an idea that the current County Executive has floated and it went over like a lead balloon because the towns don’t want it. It’s not realistic. In an ideal world, yes, but I think we have to deal with the reality of what we have to do and make it work. Then perhaps if we get our house in order, have a serious conversation with the towns about putting it on a more granular level.”
– Nassau County Executive Democratic Candidate Laura Curran

“Let’s be honest about corruption. Let’s talk about the current climate of corruption. The fact is that corruption is not a party problem necessarily, it’s an individual problem. When somebody breaks the public trust, that is an individual that must be rooted out and punished. The public and the government shouldn’t be celebrating, and politicians like my opponent shouldn’t be jumping with glee when someone is accused of corruption. It’s a sad day. My job as comptroller is to reassure you that I know exactly what happened, I’m going to put the controls in place, and I’m going to make sure nobody rips off the taxpayers on my watch.”
– Nassau County Comptroller Republican Candidate Steve Labriola

“I have a four-point plan to clean up Nassau’s finances and save taxpayer dollars. This (speeding up contract payments) falls under the third point, which is clean up and reform our county contracting system. We all know that the county contracting system is the biggest source of corruption, and really the biggest problem going on in Nassau County in so many ways. We have a contracting system that is ripe for reform. Our state comptroller suggested a series of reforms in 2013 and the district attorney suggested a series of reforms in 2015. Unfortunately, they’ve mostly fallen on deaf ears. So, one of the things that we have a problem with is non-profits, some of them which are in the room here, aren’t getting paid on time. We have a twin problem. Not only are people not getting paid on time because the system is moving too slow, but there is also too little oversight. Right? So, what do we need to do? We need to modernize things, we need to centralize vetting databases, we need to speed this up and make this happen… This isn’t the sexy stuff, but as folks in this room know this is important.”
– Nassau County Comptroller Democratic Candidate Jack Schnirman

All candidates addressed reforms concerning the Nassau County IDA. County Executive candidates Laura Curran and Jack Martins presented specific plans immediately after the Business Council event. Vision Long Island is on the record supporting community-driven downtown transit-orienteddevelopment projects recieving IDA assisance.

John Keating of PSEG Long Island also spoke to their two current pilot programs, Vacant Space Revival, designed to encourage occupancy of commercial space in a business district or in an area of existing commercial businesses that has been vacant for a period of one-year-or-more, and Main Street Revitalization, designed to encourage economic vitality of a business district and to optimize the use of existing electric infrastructure. Visit their website for more information. 

For more on the Long Island Business Council Candidate Forum, visit LIBN and Newsday.