Specifically, Denenberg blamed the state for giving “unfunded mandates,” including testing requirements, to Long Island school districts and cutting their school aid as causes of the region’s high property taxes. He said he would fight for greater resources for classroom teaching, particularly of science and math. He also said the state has not done enough with Sandy relief funds to assist the storm’s victims and guard against future catastrophes.
“The money is there, the federal government has allocated,” Denenberg said. “It’s up to your state senator to make sure that the 8th Senatorial District, the quintessential South Shore district, is protected from any future storm.”
The first time Denenberg ran for a State Legislature seat was in 1992, when he mounted an unsuccessful campaign against then-Assemblyman Charles O’Shea. Since then he has won eight consecutive two-year terms in the County Legislature, starting in 1999. As a legislator, he has at times demonstrated an independent streak: Last year he was the only Democrat to support a Republican borrowing plan to fund repairs at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, but he has also been a vocal critic of County Executive Ed Mangano’s administration.
In the 19th District, where Republicans outnumber Democrats, Denenberg’s frequent community involvement and his independence have paid political dividends. Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, described Denenberg as having “his own personal following” on Nassau’s South Shore. “Denenberg’s current county legislative district is completely within the [State] Senate district, and there are communities in the Senate district that at one time or another used to be in Denenberg’s legislative district,” Levy said. “So he’s well-known and has been supported by nearly half the people in the Senate district at one time or another.”
This was borne out in the comments of some at Denenberg’s campaign kickoff.
Randy Shotland, president of the Merrick Chamber of Commerce, said he was supporting Denenberg because he “understands the needs of our community.”