The race for the 13th Legislative District seat will be a three-horse battle, with Republican incumbent Legis. Norma Gonsalves, being challenged by Democratic candidate Patricia Maher and Working Families candidate Joseph Spinola.
The 13th L.D. covers East Meadow, Salisbury and portions of North Bellmore, Levittown and North Merrick.
Polls are open from 6 .m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Click here to find your polling station.
- Hometown: East Meadow
- Years in Office: 14
Gonsalves currently serves as chairperson of the Planning, Development and Environment Committee and vice chairperson of the Minority Affairs Committee. Gonsalves is the project director for crime watch and the East Meadow Civilian Patrol.
- Hometown: East Meadow
- Occupation: development executive for a non-profit
Maher was the publisher of a local newspaper in East Meadow and also founded “Stop the Redistricting,” a group formed to fight the redistricting division of families in the East Meadow/Salisbury community.
- Hometown: East Meadow
- Occupation: former trial lawyer and Supreme Court Justice
Spinola recently stepped down from the judge's bench in 2010. He also coached many youth sports teams around the East Meadow area.
Patch asked candidates the following questions. Their answers appear below in alphabetical order:
Patch: What should the solution be in terms of the Nassau Hub?
Norma Gonsalves: The development of the Nassau “Hub” is the last significant parcel of developable land and careful deliberations must take place to make sure that development will be a centerpiece for tourist attractions and much needed revenue. I would like the Islanders to remain on Long Island. Multi-use development must be privately funded, create jobs both construction and permanent and as stated above be a showcase of all our county has to offer.
Patricia Maher: Nassau Coliseum needs to be renovated or built new. We need an updated Coliseum for the Islanders and for other events to keep Nassau County vibrant and exciting. An open plaza with an ice skating and roller skating rink, space for a major industry to relocate that will create good paying jobs, sports fields for all to enjoy, parking facilities to accommodate residents, a playhouse, a museum for local artists to show their talent and a centralized library are ideas I think that will make Nassau County taxpayers want to stay in Nassau, while creating jobs and revenue for the county.
Joseph Spinola: I believe the development for the new coliseum and the surrounding areas should be privately funded. There should be no taxpayer funding involved in the process.
Patch: If (re) elected, what are some of your short and long-term goals?
Gonsalves: To manage this budget crisis, we must stop the tax increases, cut spending, reduce the size of government and renegotiate labor costs. Since gaining the majority on the Legislature in January 2010, my Republican colleagues and I have repealed the 2.5 percent Home Energy Tax and eliminated 16.5 percent in property tax hikes proposed by the previous administration. We’ve cut $171 million in spending, and reduced the workforce by 1,200 positions. We must continue to make the tough decisions necessary to right size Nassau’s government without increasing property taxes.
Maher: I want to create more jobs by working with the town and county governments to bring in new businesses. I want to remove impediments that prevent new businesses from locating in Nassau County. I also want to help keep the remaining businesses in Nassau County stay local by providing tax incentives for hiring and retaining employees. I intend on working with the Police Department in Nassau County to find funding to re-open the Anti-crime task force, the Problem Oriented Policing unit and funds to provide a Holiday Patrol.
Spinola: A goal of mine is to address the issue of taxes. They are too high.
Patch: What are the challenges faced by the 13th L.D.?
Gonsalves: The current fiscal crisis, both nationwide and in Nassau County, is resulting in deep funding cuts to social services, schools, etc. here in Nassau County. I believe that if the state or federal government is going to impose mandates on counties, then the state or federal governments must fund these mandated programs. Then, if funding is not available, it behooves us to propose other areas of revenue generation. When we sponsored “Red Light Camera” legislation, it was done so to provide funding for youth and social services.
If we received approval from Albany to increase the number of intersections with red light cameras, we would be able to supplement county social services and at the same time foster traffic safety. The most important challenge is the restoration of fiscal stability without raising taxes. Downsizing our county government and restructuring county spending; keeping spending in line with revenues is a priority. Raising taxes during this economic climate would be irresponsible.
Maher: There are no new jobs for our residents, businesses are closing and taxes are only going up, all under Norma Gonsalves’ 14-year tenure. The County faces a $310M budget deficit and residents in the district don’t think government cares about their needs. When residents have an issue or complaint, the general consensus is that their County Legislator is not addressing their concerns or is just “passing the buck” by writing them a “Dear John” letter.
Spinola: Some problems facing the 13th L.D. is the price of taxes and the amount of government spending. Both need to be reduced.
Patch: What’s your opinion on legislative redistricting?
Gonsalves: The county Charter requires the 19 legislative district maps to be adjusted in accordance with the US Census every 10 years. The adjustment must be made within six months of the Census release, which was March 31. The 2010 Census revealed that the configuration of the current Nassau County Legislative Districts is unconstitutional in that the principle of equal representation under the law was violated, thus new maps were drawn to adjust the lines. The New York Court of Appeals agreed with these lines and has approved them for use in 2013. I am pleased that the process has been validated.
Maher: Norma Gonsalves voted twice to divide families in the East Meadow Community and it costs us $1 million-plus. Presently, all residents in the East Meadow School District are under one Legislator. There was no reason to take parts of Barnum Woods and put them into the Westbury/New Cassel area and Salisbury to the Levittown L.D. It serves no purpose, but to make the district eternally politically safe for the Republican Legislator.
The community has been gerrymandered for political purposes. The failed redistricting was put through in the eighth year, not the 10th year. The job of the legislator with regards to redistricting is to fight for their community to keep it together. Norma Gonsalves has not done her job.
Spinola: Redistricting is not necessary at this time. It’s a transparent attempt by the party in the majority attempting to increase control. By no means should any part of the East Meadow School District be broken up.