Nassau County Legislative District 16’s race centers around Jennifer Garber, a Democrat running on the Republican ticket, taking on Democratic incumbent Arnold Drucker, who has served two terms as legislator after winning a special election in 2016. The battle hits close to home as both candidates are residents of Plainview.
Q: What is the most important issue you are running on? How will you tackle this issue?
Drucker: Since I have been a legislator, I have been focused on preserving and protecting the quality of life for the residents in my district. I have done that by securing millions of dollars to repave the major roads in the district, by taking the lead in introducing legislation banning the sale of fruit-flavored vape products and preserving the Nassau County bus service in the district and reinstating Saturday service on the n78/n79 line. I will continue to be vigilant in making sure that the services, which our residents who pay such high taxes for, are never compromised and that all residents are taxed fairly.
Garber: The most important issue facing our District is taxes, which goes hand in hand with the county executive’s reassessment. The reassessment, while necessary to ensure fairness, has been riddled with errors and an utter lack of transparency. Despite unsubstantiated claims about a low margin of error, the single largest complaint I have received from residents on the campaign trail has been that their assessed value is nowhere near the sale value of their home. Residents are confused, frustrated and concerned that they will not be able to remain in their homes. I will support legislation that requires absolute transparency from the county executive and the county assessor’s office.
Q: What else are you hoping to accomplish if you are elected?
Garber: As a lifelong resident of Plainview, my top priority is preserving our suburban quality of life. This entails holding the line on taxes and voting for taxpayer protections so we can keep people in their homes. I will fight for the funding to maintain our county roads and infrastructure, and steadfastly support law enforcement in order to keep our community safe, which includes staffing the 6th and 8th Precincts with detectives in order to combat gang and drug issues.
Drucker: I intend to advocate for more funding to combat the opioid and substance abuse epidemic on Long Island. We need to promote more services that are designed not only to educate our children from a young age about the dangers of drugs, but also teach young people and their parents, friends, teachers and community leaders about healthy coping skills and how to recognize where intervention is appropriate. We also need to provide better options for treatment and recovery. Some steps we can take include outreach to adults in positions to make elder-care arrangements and decisions, and expanding Narcan training programs to food service workers and restaurant and bar employees.
Q: How will you get residents involved in your duties as legislator?
Drucker: I regularly hold “Ask Arnie” constituent call times and “Diner Days,” during which residents can speak to me one-on-one and discuss any issues they may have. I have conducted about two dozen forums or workshops in the district to teach residents how to grieve their taxes, file for and receive every tax exemption they are entitled to and better understand the assessment process. I have hosted community events during which residents were able to learn how to protect themselves against scams, learn how to administer Narcan and identify and report instances of child sex abuse. In addition, I invite and employ interns from local schools in my district office so they can gain hands-on experience about the inner workings of government. I plan to continue these constituent outreach opportunities and to hold more town halls and public hearings in my district to address important issues.
Garber: It is so important for residents to be involved in the democratic process during both election and non-election years. Appointment-only 10 minute phone calls for an hour or so does not equate to being transparent or accessible, and is a major roadblock for many people seeking to voice their concerns to their elected official. If elected, I pledge to provide frequent status updates as to what is going on in the legislature and encourage residents to attend legislative sessions. Most people have no idea when or where legislative sessions are held. In addition, I pledge to be accessible to constituents both online and in person. Many people work full time and/or have obligations that render them unable to attend sporadic in-person meetings. The best way to remedy this is to set up town halls during both daytime and evenings, on different days of the week, as well as conducting digital forums on easily accessible social media platforms like Facebook.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your district? What makes it unique?
Garber: Our district has so many wonderful things that it is so difficult to choose just one. If I had to choose, what sticks out is our sense of community. The residents of the 16th district are so passionate. It is truly incredible how our community comes together to support one another, especially in times of need. Having lived here all my life, this sense of community and impetus to help others is ingrained in me. If elected, I will bring all of this and more to my tenure as county legislator.
Drucker: I have lived in this district my entire life, and what I most enjoy about it is how it has evolved to reflect the diversity that exists throughout Long Island. By living among an array of cultures, we grow richer as a society because of what we learn from the unique customs practiced by people from different ethnicities, nationalities and religions. This has created a community that I am proud to say embraces our differences, which makes us better and more accepting of others.