Two attorneys will face off on Nov. 3 to secure the North Shore’s District 13 assembly seat. Charles Lavine, a Democrat from Glen Cove, who is the incumbent, has served the community for 16 years and would like to continue to do so. Challenger Andrew Monteleone, a Republican from Syosset is taking a second shot at the position, having run unsuccessfully against Lavine two years ago.
It will be up to the voters to determine who will best represent them. We asked Lavine and Monteleone a few questions to help residents to make their decision.
Herald Gazette: What can you do at a state level to help facilitate an economic recovery after Covid-19 on the North Shore?
Charles Lavine: The most effective thing we can do as a state Legislature is to work in an orderly manner, which means we will attack the fiscal crisis. The process begins with negotiation and passing a budget that meets rational expectations and for New York to join with other states to pressure the federal government to provide the necessary assistance. This would not be a gift. The pandemic is an international crisis and the United States has had the worse response in dealing with it.
New York has a $10 to $15 billion deficit. We need help from the federal government. But even if President Trump has an epiphany and realizes he is sacrificing New York by the time any meaningful measure would be passed it would be the end of the year or early next year.
Our only relief is Democrat control.If the Democrats do not gain control in Washington we will have to cut back on the state budget in health care, public education and the private sector will suffer too. Hospitals will suffer cuts. These cuts could begin as early as late November and December. We have done everything we can do and at this point are at a standstill.
Andrew Monteleone: The key, especially after something like a pandemic, is to work together on both sides of the aisle to get something done. We are going to need to look at tax incentives to get small businesses going again, we will have to reevaluate when we will put into effect people paying rent and mortgages again. I think it will be a hybrid plan something from the past and something new. It could be something like the PPE on a state level to help businesses that are on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. If they are just need a little bump to stay in business it is something we should consider. A tax break for a year after we get going is certainly something we should consider to help these small businesses get back on their feet and be able to rehire those people that they had let go. In order for the tax break to happen we would need the federal government’s help because we can’t afford to do it without it. To get help we would have to form a bipartisan group to go to Washington and say, ‘Look forget politics. This is above and beyond politics. This is for the survival of New York state.’ We need the government’s help.
Herald Gazette: In regard to Covid-19, what actions can you take to be sure that New Yorkers, especially those living in the North Shore, are being protected? Would you support fines for those who continue to have large gatherings, do not wear masks and will not social distance?
CL: New York has done everything we can do to make our citizens aware of the crisis. That’s why everyone is wearing masks. We will continue to try everything we can to assist our citizens emotionally and spiritually so we can stand together as a people to combat this.
Although I think the North Shore is doing what they should do, I think that eventually fines for not wearing masks will be discussed and the state will have to help pay for the enforcement. If we mandate that the county do it we will have to help with the cost to the Department of Health and the cost of police increased enforcement. The tickets won’t pay for that.
At this point there is no discussion in the Assembly about a need for fines. How severely do you punish your neighbors for violating social distance regulations and not wearing a mask?
AM: I’m out all the time campaigning and for my work. I think the North Shore is doing a very good job of wearing masks and social distancing. Even with schools open, I can see that they are doing a very good job of following the protocols. I didn’t think in August that our schools would still be open.
We are fortunate because, in the rest of the country, wearing masks and social distancing has become political. Here, for the most part, Republicans and Democrats are doing what they should do.
I wouldn’t mandate any fines unless the surge is worse than it was in May or June. But if we see a resurgence and it is from the bars and restaurants not doing what they should be doing, they should get a fine and then if they still won’t comply be closed. I think it will be difficult to enforce everyday people not wearing masks. At this point, people are doing the right thing here. I can’t see a situation where we would need to give out fines.
Herald Gazette: What more can be done to establish a public water authority? If one is established, how do you plan to help usher the ratepayers in the water district into it?
CL: The Senate passed a bill for a North Shore Water Authority. Because of its complexity, we in the Assembly are still evaluating it. We will make several modifications to the Senate’s bill. We want to be certain that the legislation reaches the constitutional requirements. We don’t want to have it rejected by the state courts if New York American Water challenges it.
AM: I support public water and am 100 percent behind New York American Water leaving the area. I would push the second I got into the Assembly to speed up their departure.
I think if possible the area should hitch onto Jericho Water District. That would be the most cost effective. But if we need to get a new water district, we could do that too. The main issue is getting New York American Water out and everything else will fall into place after that.
Herald Gazette: What would your goals be?
CL: I hope to make sure there are more early voting locations. There are none in the North Shore. I also want to see a statewide computerized system to track where someone’s vote by mail is in the system. Now people can call to ask if their ballot was received and processed but that is a 20 minute process. In a few clicks with a computerized system, you would see if your ballot was counted, collected or rejected.
AM: My short term goals would be to fix the Criminal Justice Reform Act. I do criminal defense work and believed there should have been bail reform. But to tell a judge that someone convicted of three burglaries in the past who is accused of doing another that bail cannot be posted? We need a more commonsense approach as to who gets bail and why. The law was passed without thinking of the consequences.
My long term goal is to get ahold of the taxes in New York. People are leaving. We have to figure out how to keep our kids here and us here when we reach retirement. Both parties need to work together.