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Two square off in State Assembly primary

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Two men are vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican incumbent Melissa Miller for New York’s 20th Assembly District seat.

Jack Vobis, from Island Park, an attorney who currently sits on the Island Park Board of Education, and Juan Vides, of Oceanside, a businessman, have announced their intention to run in the Sept. 13 race and capture the nomination.

The businessman

Vides, of Oceanside said that six years afer Hurricane Sandy and his community was still “not whole,” and vowed to fight for the resources and funding to bring major infrastructure projects such as Long Island Rail Road, roadway and drainage improvements and repairs to fruition. “That’s one thing I’ll fight for because that’s what we need,” Vides said.

He added that in addition to public infrastructure, he said that protecting Long Island’s drinking water is a paramount concern, especially in light of news that neighboring municipalities were considering tapping into the South Shore’s aquifers. The development, particularly with concerns of salt water intrusion into the aquifers he said, “Could be a disaster, devastating not just for Nassau County, but for all of Long Island.”

Additionally, Vides vowed to find ways to help make living on Long Island more affordable, particularly for senior citizens in the area, and said the solution could lie in better municipal management. “We need to make sure they have the means to retire in our community,” he said. “Seniors are the backbone of our community.”

Also at issue for Vides is the heroin and opioid crisis that has hit Long Islanders particularly hard. He proposed additional resources and facilities for those struggling with addiction to “help get them off these powerful drugs.”

Vides also touted his 13 years of business experience, saying “I know what a balance sheet looks like,” and that it would serve his constituents well in Albany.

“I’m always a New Yorker,” Vides said of his roots in the area, “and I’m always a Long Islander.”

The attorney

Vobis, of Island Park, currently serves as president of the community’s Board of Education, and said that if he were elected to the Assembly, securing financial resources for his district would be his primary concern.

“We need to make sure we have more money for people in the district,” Vobis said. “We haven’t seen the money coming back from Albany to taxpayers the past few years the way we should see it come back.”

He too noted his concerns over infrastructure, particularly in regards to projects funded and designed in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to make the area more resilient to flooding — projects that have seen little to no movement since their announcement.

“Sandy was a huge flood,” Vobis said, “everyone was impacted by it, but we still see flooding even during bad thunderstorms … when people look at that they think our government is failing us, and we need to have an advocate in Albany that’s going to fight so we don’t have to wait six years after a major storm for help.”

Vobis also floated various anti-corruption proposals such as term-limits, stricter campaign finance laws and increased salaries for sitting representatives, but noted that no single proposal would solve New York’s notoriously corrupt political scene. “We need something that’s going to ensure that it covers all the bases,” he said.

Other issues Vobis raised include the controversy over New York American Water’s rate hikes, and he said he would be a voice to ensure more scrutiny over the company’s policies. Additionally, he said that he would like to see stricter regulation of guns coming from out-of-state.

“People of the district and on the South Shore are resilient,” he said. “They’ve endured a lot in the past few years, and have perservered to try and overcome their hardships, but unless our state government begins to provide the necessary assistance, we could soon see people leaving the in search of a more affordable and sustainable lifestyle.”