Incumbent County Legislator Debra S. Mulé, a Democrat from Freeport, is running for reelection for an office she’s held since 2018. Challenger Brian J. McEvoy is a Republican is a Republican from Freeport and former South Hempstead Civic Association President.
The 5th Legislative District encompasses Baldwin, Freeport, South Hempstead and parts of Rockville Center, Merrick and Oceanside. The Herald asked the candidates questions focused on vital issues and what makes them qualified for the position.
1) Covid-19 has altered how we do “business as usual,” in terms of technology, healthcare, economy, etc. How do you plan to navigate the “new normal”?
Mulé: As we navigated a new world of virtual meetings and webinars, my office discover some advantages to this form of outreach. Not only does a virtual approach make it much easier to record and archive events for future reference, it made it considerably less daunting for first-time attendees to participate in these meetings and benefit from the information we were sharing.
Thanks to conservative budgeting and smart fiscal management, the County has been able to
earmark large portions of its American Rescue Plan allocation toward direct relief programs that will help local businesses continue to adapt to the post-pandemic world. This summer, my Minority Caucus colleagues and I strongly advocated for and secured unanimous approval for dedicating tens of millions of dollars to recovery grants for small businesses, low-interest loan programs and other forms of crucial support for entrepreneurs.
McEvoy: I believe that Covid-19 has impacted “how we do business as usual” in the following ways: When it comes to technology, the Covid-19 shutdown made us more dependent on technology--we witnessed students learning online, people working from home, and the way we now shop. While many of the hospitals were overcrowded during the heart of the pandemic, other types of illnesses were being moved to the side. Because of this we now are seeing people suffering from serious illnesses.
The economy has taken a huge loss during this time. On Long Island we need more help locally to help our small businesses survive and to grow new business. Long Island lost one in six businesses and, with that, people lost jobs and many left the state. We need a lot more capital spending to grow businesses in Nassau County. In my district, there are many businesses that have gone out of business due to the lockdown.
2) Since the George Floyd protests, organizational/institutional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have been put front and center. How would DEI instruct your practice as an elected official?
Mulé: Cognizant of the fact that my life experiences do not encompass all experiences, I have made it a practice to maintain an open-door policy with my constituents. This ensures that I hear their concerns and use what I learn through these conversations to inform policy decisions.
I am blessed with the opportunity to represent a tremendously diverse constituency in the 5th Legislative District, and it has always been my practice to equip my office to best meet the needs of our community. Since the district I serve includes a large number of Spanish-speaking residents, I have ensured that my staff will always include a person who is fluent in Spanish; my current staff includes a Haitian-Creole speaker as well.
McEvoy: I believe it is the responsibility of those that seek or hold government office to fight discrimination wherever it is found, promote policies that foster equality and support those that have been discriminated against. This includes ensuring that discriminatory policies, actions or barriers in the areas employment, housing, banking, etc. are eradicated. I also believe that total inclusion is important in making decisions. I think that is the only way we can move forward. If elected I promise to hold Town Hall meetings to hear the voices of all the people.
3) What are the most pressing issues in your district, and how do you address these collaboratively with all stakeholders within the next term?
Mulé: Community input provides valuable guidance as we plan for the future. In fact, residents and stakeholders have frequently shared ideas and approaches that we might not have previously considered. Whether in person or on Zoom, I will continue to meet with all local civic associations, as I have throughout my tenure in the Legislature, to ensure the lines of communication remain open.
Baldwin’s downtown revitalization continues to be the top issue I am focused upon tackling in the Fifth Legislative District. The County’s contribution to this effort – Complete Streets – will be starting by the end of the year. This investment in our infrastructure promises to provide for a safe, walkable and revitalized downtown and serve as a catalyst for further smart, transit-oriented development.
In a new term, I will continue to spearhead efforts to devise a plan for the remediation of the Oakwood Beach Club property. I will also build upon our successful flooding mitigation efforts on Long Beach Road in South Hempstead and will follow through on the reconstruction of this crucial County thoroughfare.
McEvoy: It is my belief that the tax reassessment is extremely flawed. It is hard to understand that some homeowner’s taxes will go up drastically while others will stay the same. The $375 dollars that the county will be sending out is not enough to counterbalance the tax increases. I have spoken to homeowners on fixed incomes that are frighten that they will have to sell their homes.
Another topic is the crime we have seen that the Bail Reform/ Cashless Bail has done to our way of living. We read about those being let out of jail after committing violent crimes. I have heard those that favor these laws say that it is a state matter. But is it really? When are these people released into the community, where are they going? I believe that law enforcement should be able to do their jobs and protect the citizens of Nassau County, whether in the neighborhoods or in our local jails.