Monday, March 26, 2007

Wink and Chisari Respond to Questions from Glenwood / Glen Head Civic

On Tuesday, the Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association submitted questions to Wayne Wink (D, I, WF) and Louis Chisari (R, C), the two candidates seeking to represent Nassau County Legislative District 11 in the special election secheduled for Tuesday, March 27.

Mr. Chisari and Mr. Wink have submitted their responses, which are posted below exactly as they were received. As has been noted in many previous postings, all of Glenwood Landing and Roslyn Harbor and part of Glen Head and Sea Cliff make up the northeasternmost portion of Nassau County Legislative District 11.

Be sure to vote. This election determines which party takes the majority in the Nassau County Legislature. Make your opinion known. Local elections turn on a dime. Your vote, whatever it is, counts—and it is no secret that turnout is often appallingly low.

Our right to vote has been won by people who have died, been injured, or been maimed over generations to protect this democracy. Vote! It is the patriotic thing to do! Besides, did you know that if you don't vote, your license to complain expires—and you have to zip it up and wait until November to renew?

1) What is the most important single contribution you hope to make as a county legislator?

Chisari: First, to stop any and all property tax increases and second improve county services that the current County Executive and Legislature has cut while expanding their staffs.

Wink: It is no secret that our tax burden is too high; one way to alleviate that is to eliminate duplication of services between our towns and villages and the County, and to better coordinate other services. As a county legislator, I'll be working on a number of these consolidation projects, such as the transfer of certain county parks and roads from the county to the Town of North Hempstead.Transfers such as these allow the Town to maintain better these local parks and roads, while allowing the County to reallocate existing resources to sites in need of attention.

I also have a track record of working across party lines, as a consensus-builder. In a narrowly divided Legislature, my ability to work with other members of both political parties is going to be important to the taxpayers, citizens, and residents of the 11th LD and the rest of Nassau County.

2) What differences and similarities do you perceive among the communities in District 11, and how might these factors impact your service to those communities?

Chisari: The biggest similarity is the issue of property taxes, the County through the Legislature and the County Executive are oppressively taxing all communities in District 11 to the point that the people can no longer afford. Furthermore, each community is different with their own special needs, which as a County Legislator it would be my obligation to list and address each of those special needs.

Wink: While there are communities of significant affluence in the 11th District, the district also includes people of much lesser means. In the end, we all deserve the same things: clean air, clean water, a better and brighter future for our children, security for our own retirement. The reduction of waste and duplication across different levels of government is not only less expensive for everyone (lower taxes) and less confusing, it benefits all of our communities and encourages growth of the local economy.

3) What is your view of the county's role on the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee and the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, and how would you advance the water quality improvement efforts of these inter-municipal organizations?

Chisari: I would led and effort by the County to secure more Federal and State grants to help further fund the projects.

Wink: This kind of coordination is exactly what I have been talking about throughout my campaign, and part of the reason I chose to kick off my campaign at Bar Beach. The towns have historically taken the lead in this regard, but there is a larger role for the county to play here. There was a time when the county tested the water quality of Hempstead Harbor and other bodies of water throughout the county on a regular basis. I would work to ensure the county could provide that kind of assistance and support to further the vital goals of the Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee.

4) How can the decay of the historic structures and gardens under county jurisdiction be reversed, and what would you do to encourage historic preservation in general?

Chisari: This is one area I feel very strongly about. I believe that preserving the County's historic sites is extremely important. First, the County must secure Federal and State grants that are available for this effort and second, stop the County Executive from cutting the staffs of these sites so he can hire political operatives for his personal staff as he has done in the pass with the full blessing of the Democratically control Legislature.

Wink: Long Island's heritage are a resource for the people of all New York. Their preservation and maintenance are important not only for our local sense of history, but to encourage tourism and indeed attract new residents to Nassau County. It is important that the county commit to the maintenance and improvement of these historic structures, whether through the county's capital plan or by applying for state and federal grants. I have developed close relationships with many of our elected leaders in Albany and Washington, and will work with them wherever possible to secure the resources we need to reverse these deplorable trends.

5) What is your policy on open space, and how would you protect open space in Glenwood Landing and Glen Head?

Chisari: I believe at this juncture in the County's development we must preserve the little open space that is left. The County must either fund an open space acquiring program or secure federal and state grants to fund such a project.

Wink: It would be shortsighted to develop every single inch of space, whether for new homes, new businesses, or even traditional parks. When it comes to our environment, we too often forget that each generation is here not as owners, but as stewards for the generations to come. That is why, wherever appropriate, we seek to redevelop existing sites, rather than squander the limited open space we have in the area. The Town of North Hempstead and Nassau County both have environmental bonds act monies in place to purchase either open space or the development rights of open space throughout the county. I would look to these monies to preserve pristine open space wherever possible in the Glenwood Landing/Glen Head area.

6) What role can the county play in reducing traffic congestion and sprawl, both countywide and in Glen Head and Glenwood Landing in particular?

Chisari: No answer provided.

Wink: To our west, New York City has the most extensive public transportation system in the world. In Nassau, we must work harder to reduce our reliance on the automobile and improve public transit. Development of new office parks and new housing might, for example, include investment in that infrastructure. I would seek to encourage the development of mass transportation and traffic reducing initiatives by the use of Industrial Development Agency bonds for new, and where possible, existing businesses throughout the county. We must find ways to encourage more people to use the bus, and the train, rather than driving.

7) What would you do to ensure that payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) and/or taxes on utility properties in Glenwood Landing are paid and not reduced?

Chisari: This is more an issue for the State Legislature than for the County Legislature as for the payments. The PILOTs are agreements that the utility has with either, the state or county and/or the local municipality. As for the amounts they are contractual and if they are reduced it is agreed upon by the parties involved. As a County Legislator I would make sure that the any amount owed under a PILOT will not be reduced and I would insure the utility pays the amount it originally agreed upon.

Wink: I would work to ensure that existing PILOT agreements be enforced and honored by all the parties to the agreements.

8) What is the county's most significant public safety and disaster vulnerability, and how would you address it?

Chisari: No answer provided.

Wink: The most likely disaster scenario in Nassau County would likely be hurricanes or Nor'easters, which have the potential to flood low-lying areas and cause devastating erosion to our shorelines. The county, as well as all levels of government, must prepare for the unavoidable consequences of weather-related by establishing a support infrastructure for the provision of life-saving and emergency shelter facilities known as Points of Distribution (PODs). The quicker PODs can spring into action to ensure that residents are treated, clothed and sheltered in emergency situations, the more likely it is that lives can be saved and our homes protected.

9) What measures would you introduce to make county government more efficient and more accessible to the public?

Chisari: First, I believe that County government is very accessible to the public, but I feel that a Public Advocates Office charged with helping the citizens of the county navigate the municipal system is needed. Second, to make County government more efficient one party rule must end. In the last six years county government has cut the staffs of the Buildings Dept., Parks Dept. and Highway Dept., but the staffs of the County Executive and County Legislature has grown. I agree with the Governor waste must be sought out and stopped.

Wink: Throughout this campaign, and my whole career, I have been working towards consolidating services. There are many public services that are better managed locally, and things that are best handled by the county or even the state. Whatever those services are, it is important that we have transparency. People need to know WHAT government is doing, HOW it is doing it, and WHOM to contact when they need something. It's the only way the system works for ALL of its citizens. The maze of overlapping government entities often serves to conceal and frustrate the public, calling into question the very foundation of government accountability.

10) Are you willing to work in a bi-partisan manner, and what will you do to encourage bi-partisan cooperation among your colleagues?

Chisari: Yes, absolutely, but the thing I will never work bi-partisan on is any issue that would result in any type tax or county fee increase. I feel there will always be a better solution then raising taxes of county charged fees.

Wink: I have not only been willing to work in a bi-partisan manner, but I have always worked to encourage such cooperation. In the end, we all want the same things; our philosophical and partisan differences are about the best way to achieve those goals. I have never been one who wants the "issue" to linger as a weapon for some future campaign. I want to be known for real results that help the people of District 11 and all Nassau County live better lives.

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