Avi Fertig said he subscribes to the philosophy of Harry S. Truman, encapsulated in this quote by the nation’s 33rd president: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Fertig, 41, of Woodmere, who worked for Nassau County Legislator Howard Kopel (R-Lawrence), and is now working for Town of Hempstead councilmen Anthony Santino and James Darcy, said he has been involved in helping people, and wants to expand his reach. “Good government looks like getting a phone call back, having someone listen, trying to understand the problem, then helping to solve it,” Fertig said.
He was selected by Nassau County Republicans at their nominating convention, on May 29, as their candidate to run for the Assembly seat in District 20, which encompasses the Five Towns, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Island Park, Oceanside and part of East Rockaway. “He is very active in the community, very experienced, as he has worked for Howard Kopel, myself and Jim Darcy,” Santino said. “He knows every community organization, many religious organizations. He is a real go-getter, understands local government and understands the needs of the community.”
After Hurricane Sandy, Fertig helped a Woodmere family whose house foundation cracked due to storm damage and their insurance claim was denied. “I spent months reading, drafting an argument, detailing the nonsensical minutiae,” he said, referring to the “earth movement” clause in flood insurance policies that proved to be trouble for many homeowners trying to get payments for damage. “We helped clear the way for a change in policy.”
Through his positions working for Kopel and then for the town, Fertig said, he has handled a wide array of issues, ranging from helping a resident articulate why a tree should be removed to shepherding the Hatzalah volunteer ambulance garage project in Woodmere. “There are issues of coordination between the town, village and county. When I worked for Howard, Tony and Jim, the districts overlapped, and we were immediately able to establish communication,” he said, in explaining how he helped to resolve constituent problems. “To bring the state into that mix is tantalizing.”
Growing up in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, where he first met Kopel, whose family lived around the corner from the Fertigs, government wasn’t his first career choice. He went to Brooklyn College, studied psychology and graduated in 1995. Fertig worked for nearly six years with children and young adults with developmental disabilities, was a recreational therapist at a residence home and a case manager for the Medicaid Waiver program.
He began a small communications firm in 2000 that did advertising and marketing for nonprofit organizations and small to midsized companies. Fertig also got his first taste of government service working for then City Councilman Noach Deer, now a state Civil Court judge. “I was always good at writing, good at talking, articulating thoughts and ideas, and I like talking to people,” Fertig said. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping people.”
Following the economic downturn that began in the latter half of 2008, his communication firm’s business started to slow. In 2010, Fertig found himself working for his old neighbor. “First and foremost he’s really smart, writes well and he thinks, which is a commodity that, unfortunately, at times, is rare in politics,” Kopel said in explaining why his former aide would make a good legislator.
Fertig’s opponent has yet to be decided, as Long Beach residents Todd Kaminsky, a former U.S. attorney, and Councilman Anthony Eramo, along with Lido Beach resident Robert Solomon, will vie for the Democratic nomination in a September primary. Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said he would not seek another term after 25 years in office.
“I’m the guy who knows the rest of the district and the Five Towns,” Fertig said. “They know Long Beach, but they won’t know the Five Towns. Because of the work I’ve done, I’ve straddled both sides of the district, and I’m familiar with the issues in all these communities.”