Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 26 October 2012 00:00
The Hicksville Community Council held a meet the candidates forum on Thursday evening, Oct. 4 at the Hicksville Community Center on West Carl Street that provided residents an opportunity to see who could be representing them in several different political positions come November.
Community Council member Joel Berse – who asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt, who died of a heart attack on Wednesday, Oct. 3 – led the event as judicial candidates Colin O’Donnell, Joy Watson, William O’Brien, Doug LaRose and Anthony Paradiso, U.S. Congressional hopeful in the 2nd District Steve Labate (R) and New York State Assembly incumbent in the 15th District Michael Montesano (R) spoke on their backgrounds and plans if elected (or re-elected) to their respective positions.
New York State 7th District Senator Jack Martins (R) and challenger Dan Ross (D) concluded the evening with a debate, answering residents’ questions in the form of three-minute answers.
A father of two, Montesano, a Glen Head resident since 1979, was a police officer and detective for the NYPD for a decade and also served as an EMT supervisor and investigator for the NYC Emergency Medical Service, said his priorities while working as an assemblyman have been job creation and cutting wasteful spending and taxes. Montesano is running against Democratic challenger Mario Ferone, a student at Stony Brook University, who did not attend the forum.
“I believe that during my [past] three years I consistently delivered to you those promises I made to you regarding the MTA tax, pension forfeiture legislation that became law to deal with public officials who commit wrongdoings, reduced income tax brackets, advanced school aid, Catholic school aid as well as library aid,” Montesano said, adding that he’s helped to eliminate dysfunction in Albany, including delivering on-time budgets, no tax increases and no borrowing, consolidated government departments, eliminating 30 defunct agencies and commissions and closing three prisons.
“We closed a substantial deficit and we’re paying down debt. We did some initial mandate relief for schools and villages, but not enough. We intend to make that our priority this year going in for substantial mandate relief to help the schools and continue to bring down the school tax rate,” Montesano said, whose district office is on Levittown Parkway in Hicksville.
Labate is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve and a financial planner. He and his wife have one set of twins and live in Suffolk County. Labate will challenge incumbent Steve Israel (D).
“I’m a dad and I’m a soldier. People are looking for leadership, not for people just to manage. We need more veterans in office; we understand that there’s something more important than the individual needs and the greater good is really what counts,” Labate said.
Martins, the former mayor for the Village of Mineola and father of four, is running for his second term as New York State’s 7th Senate District representative, while challenger Dan Ross, a 10-year volunteer firefighter at Manhasset-Lakeview and owner of Grand Prix Subaru in Hicksville, seeks to obtain Martins’ seat.
“We need to think of ways that we can, even in tough economic times, to prioritize our public safety, our environment and look at a way we can unite and bring back together our great community,” Ross explained, noting that he will provide a “voice for you up in Albany with no clouding from any kind of special interest and no favors to give out” if elected.
Senator Martins thanked Ross for his 10 years of service in the Manhasset-Lakeview Fire Department and commented on what has driven him to serve as an elected official.
“We talk about employing people and we talk about home ownership, those are the things frankly that motivate me. I know what it’s like to have to run a government. I know what it’s like to live here on Long Island. I know what it’s like to pay those high property taxes. I know what it’s like to find a job and employ people and have to make those things work,” Martins said.