The League of Women Voters and the East Meadow Public Library brought Nassau County Legislature candidates together Tuesday night for a special forum to introduce themselves to the community and respond to resident concerns.
Patricia Maher of the 13th L.D., Ethan D. Irwin and Dennis Dunne of the 15th L.D. and David W. Denenberg of the 19th L.D. addressed pressing issues for the upcoming Nov. 8 vote. Legis. Norma L. Gonsalves of the 13th L.D. and Fred J. Jones of the 19th L.D. were committed to prior engagements.
Seaford resident Estelle Hoyt addressed Dunne, who covers the areas of Island Trees, Levittown and Wantagh, in regards to the potential privatization of the Nassau County bus system, wondering why there was no public meeting on the matter.
"The Nassau County bus system has been totally mismanaged," responded Dunne. "MTA has already cost Nassau County $100 million in payroll taxes. They cut 52 percent of our bus system. Also, they're going to add $26 million to the bill."
"The county executive proposed to find people who could run it better - the same system we have, the same price we have, and not charge us another $26 million," Dunne added. "We haven't seen it yet. We're not going to have hearings on something we haven't seen."
Maher responded by telling the community there was a hearing, but it was not public, claiming that it is a part of the current officers' "closed door" policies.
Marge Russell, a resident of a senior citizen community in East Meadow, addressed the table about the failed redistricting plans near her town. Redistricting is set to occur every 10 years, but in this case, it was proposed early.
"There was no reason to divide East Meadow," Maher said. "It was done because it was politically safer. They tried to divide towns, families."
"It was nothing more than a power grab by the republican communities," added Irwin, a Levittown resident running against Dunne.
Bellmore resident and Nassau County union employee Nina Thilesen voiced her opinion on the hundreds of job losses in the county union offices, directing her question toward Dunne, who voted "yes" on the layoffs.
"You say you want to save jobs, yet [Edward] Mangano is laying off 700 county workers," she said. "We are low income wagers. Why is it fair?"
Dunne responded by saying that it's not fair and that it is not his goal as a leader. He also added that by Oct. 17, the number of layoffs is expected to rise to 1,100.
Maher agreed with the county worker, claiming current officers, like her opponent Gonsalves, are laying off low income employees but spending unnecessary money elsewhere.
"In the new budget, they're proposing - and I know my opponent's going to vote for it - $20 million for AstroTurfs, but they're going to lay off a $33,000 employee," the East Meadow resident said. "Do we really need that? Do we really need AstroTurfs?"
Denenberg had a similar view on the situation.
"The same day that we had to pay $2 million for outside attorneys [and] the same day we were paying for special elections, we were coming up with $2 million by letting go of 128 employees," he said.
"When youre laying off people, look at what you're laying off," Denenberg added. "When you're laying off police, why do people live here? To feel safe."