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Vote for Levine — and change — in 19th L.D.

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The Herald encourages residents to vote for a change in Nassau County’s District 19 by electing challenger Jill Levine, of Merrick, as its legislator. Although Steve Rhoads, the Republican incumbent from Bellmore, has served the community well over the past four years, we believe Levine represents an opportunity for progress in county government.

Although she’s running as a Democrat, Levine is not registered with a political party, and therefore not beholden to a political agenda. As she made clear to us in her endorsement interview, her goal is to bring people — both constituents and public officials — together to solve problems.

Levine has deeply engaged with residents of the 19th through her work in the Forever 9 Robbie Levine Foundation, which she founded in memory of her son, who died when his heart stopped during Little League practice in 2005. She directs what has become one of Merrick’s most anticipated community events, Robbie’s Run, which attracts thousands of participants — and thousands of dollars to donate automated external defibrillators to schools around the world — every year.

A social worker, Levine frames her lack of political experience as a plus. She has said that approaching county politics with a social worker’s eye could lead to better results than the status quo. With the culture of Republican stonewalling that has plagued the Legislature — focusing mostly on reassessment — we believe that jettisoning the status quo is sorely needed, and Levine can help in that effort.

Rhoads is conscientious and well liked, but his position on reassessment — supporting the partisan “Bill of Rights” — toes the party line. That has meant fear-mongering and attacks on County Executive Laura Curran, who is trying to resolve a decades-old problem. While her plan to phase-in the reassessment isn’t perfect, Rhoads and the Republican majority should either introduce a plan of their own or work with the executive to improve hers.

Constant attack messages aren’t the answer. The 19th District needs a breath of fresh air, the Herald believes Levine can help supply it, and we encourage voters to choose her on Tuesday.