Republican legislator and Westbury resident Laura Schaefer has been serving Nassau County’s 14th District, which includes portions of Hicksville, since 2013 and has made it through two election cycles without losing her seat. Her challenger is Garden City businessman Michael Maloney on the Democratic line. Both candidates are looking to secure a seat on the legislature, with one of their main focuses being tax assessments.
Q: What is the most important issue you are running on? How will you tackle this issue?
Schaefer: Property taxes and reassessment. The reassessment process has been confusing and many Nassau residents are concerned about changes to their property values. The Department of Assessment has not been proactive enough and, at the end of the day, thousands of families will be seeing their taxes go up, which is why I sponsored common sense measures like a bill requiring the Department of Assessment to answer the phone when constituents call with questions. We need to make this process more fair and transparent, and I plan on continuing to inform my residents of what to expect going forward.
Maloney: The issue I am most often asked about is the new tax assessment system currently being implemented by Nassau County. While there have been some hiccups in the way the reassessment has been communicated to taxpayers, most independent experts agree that the new tax rolls that take effect in 2020-21 are fair, equitable and based on current market values instead of outdated values from 10 years ago. No longer will we have half of all property owners paying way more than they should be and the other half paying way less than they should be, which is what happened under the broken system we had for so long. If elected, I will immediately vote in favor of legislation that will phase in over five years the negative impact of the reassessment for those who are seeing a big increase in their taxes.
Q: What else are you hoping to accomplish if you are elected?
Maloney: As a lifelong “unaffiliated” voter running on the Democratic and Working Families Party ballot lines, I want to serve as a moderating force on the legislature, ending the partisan bickering and working with both sides to serve all residents, not the politically-connected. I also want to implement term limits for Legislators, as well as push for stricter ethics rules and other good government reforms to eliminate the waste, fraud, abuse and corruption for which Nassau County is unfortunately known. I will also work with federal, state and local officials to address water quality and safety issues that many local water districts are dealing with right now.
Schaefer: I hope to continue working with the legislative majority to ensure that all Nassau county residents continue to have access to clean drinking water. Just this past summer, I held a hearing on 1,4-Dioxane, sent the transcript from the hearing and wrote a letter to the governor urging his assistance with the clean-up of this dangerous chemical in our drinking water without placing additional burdens on taxpayers.
Q: How will you get residents involved in your duties as legislator?
Schaefer: I will continue to hold community forums around my district and hearings at the Legislature that enable Nassau residents to air their grievances and get their questions answered.
Maloney: As a former journalist of Garden City Life and current public relations professional, I know how to use various media channels and communications tactics to keep residents informed about government issues and programs. I would also like to see some county legislature meetings take place in the evening when more people are available to attend. Finally, I would look to create informal advisory councils comprised of community leaders and other local experts to help me better understand important issues from their perspective.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your district? What makes it unique?
Maloney: I love that all the communities that make up District 14 are all great places to live, work and raise a family. While we may have some differences of opinion or perspective, I believe that we have more in common with each other than most of us realize. It’s the only district that touches parts of all three towns that make up Nassau County—Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay.
Schaefer: My favorite thing about the 14th district is how diverse and proactive the residents and community groups are. Hearing from and listening to the residents in my district is a very big part of my job. If they didn’t care about their communities, they wouldn’t contact me so I love that we are able to work together to make their “hometowns” a better place.