In a few short weeks, residents of Nassau County’s 11th District will decide who will represent them in the Nassau County Legislature when they go to the polls on Election Day.
Incumbent Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Democrat, hopes to hold onto her seat to continue her efforts to improve life on the Gold Coast. Challenger Zefy Christopoulos, an Independence Party member, is the Republican Party hopeful. She would like to bring a new perspective to the position and promises to work hard for those living in the 11th.
The Glen Cove Herald Gazette asked the candidates several questions, which we believe are of the utmost importance. We hope their answers will help voters make an informed decision on Nov. 7.
Herald Gazette: What can you do to resolve the issue of vacant storefronts in Glen Cove?
DeRiggi-Whitton: Speaking with business owners for the past 10 years as an elected official, it’s obvious that high taxes are a big burden on our local commercial businesspeople. The best way to lower taxes and make rents competitive is to increase the city’s tax base by having developments pay its respective share of taxes.
Zefy Christopoulos: There are only a few vacant storefronts in Glen Cove thanks to the efforts of the current administration. In the last four years, using a “Glen Cove is Open for Business” initiative, more businesses were launched, which created more jobs than in the past 12 years. The Business Improvement District and Chamber of Commerce have worked diligently to attract entrepreneurs to Glen Cove. Key to the survival of businesses are consumers, especially in the downtown of any municipality. Glen Cove offers free downtown parking, a safe environment, and a business-oriented government.
HG: Rate hikes and water bills have been an ongoing issue on the North Shore. How can you help to resolve this in your capacity as a legislator?
DDW: I’ve met with the President of American Water and his attorneys, the county assessor’s office, attended both civic meetings regarding this issue and worked closely with the Sea Cliff mayor and village administrator as they filed their Article 78. We also arranged a conference call with the Public Service Commission and I continue to work with a representative from the Attorney General’s office and have spoken with our liaison to the governor’s office.
ZC: There is no reason for residents of some communities to be paying 10 times more than their neighbors for water. A for-profit water company is raking in even more money on the backs of customers. It’s time to act and change this unconscionable situation and that likely involves state, county, and village legislation.
HG: North Shore School District
residents recently formed a coalition against substance abuse to combat the opioid epidemic. SAFE in Glen Cove has been working for years to also combat substance abuse. How would you assist these two groups?
DDW: I’ve been involved with many organizations working to combat the substance abuse crisis facing our youth and conducted many Narcan trainings with the assistance of various groups. I’ve also written legislation requiring pharmacies to display signs warning of the dangers of opiate addiction and am one of the legislators that co-sponsored Smoking 21.
ZC: The first step in combating the epidemic is for school districts and communities to admit a problem exists. Let’s bring parents, students, people in recovery, hospital representatives, pharmacists and doctors to a roundtable to better understand what drives addiction. Let’s explore using vacant space in hospitals as addiction and mental health treatment centers. This means money. Having served as a member of the SAFE Parent Committee, I know that securing federal, state and county funding to sustain awareness, prevention and referral programs is difficult. The time is now for all of us and every level of government to re-commit ourselves to the health and well being of our children. The SAFE executive director is a board member of the North Shore Coalition and has the knowledge and ability to assist.
HG: Glen Cove residents are concerned that taxpayers will be responsible for paying off the bond for the Garvies
project. How can the county help?
DDW: Most of us would like to see something successful to finally happen with the waterfront property. But I’m concerned with how Glen Cove residents will pay off this $200 million plus IDA loan taken out to pay for the amenities the developer was contractually obligated to fund. In my opinion, taking on this obligation of paying for the amenities before construction is completed, or even before all environmental permits were obtained was a risky move with our taxpayers’ interest. Payments of this bond must be made to avoid a lien being placed on this property by the bondholders. It will take longer than 40 years to pay off. This why I voted against this item when the reallocation came before the Legislature. With all future developments, I feel it’s imperative to make sure they are on the tax roll, which would expand our tax base, making it easier for homeowner’s and businesses to be able to afford to stay in Glen Cove.
ZC: Opponents of the waterfront redevelopment project are spreading misinformation including a false claim that taxpayers would be responsible for the repayment of the bond in case of default. The bond is a non-recourse instrument which means the taxpayers and the city have no obligation to repay the bond. The only ones who would lose money would be the bondholders because their investment return would not be realized. Earlier this year, the Nassau County Legislature voted in favor of the bonding, however the current legislator of our 11th District voted against the proposal, even though when she was a member of the Glen Cove City Council she was in favor of the waterfront redevelopment every step of the way.