Kopel challenged by Moser in Nassau's 7th L.D.

A Special to The Jewish Star


Howard Kopel is running for his second term as county legislator of the 7th Legislative District, which covers Cedarhurst, Inwood, Hewlett, Lawrence and Woodmere, South Valley Stream, Oceanside, Island Park and portions of East Rockaway and Bay Park. The Lawrence resident was elected in 2009 after defeating incumbent Jeff Toback.

He is being challenged by Adam Moser, a Democrat from Hewlett. Moser is a former district court judge, who has a Rockville Centre legal practice. The election will be on Nov. 8.

Herald: Why do you think the transfer of sewage from the Five Towns to the Bay Park Treatment Plant is a good idea?

Kopel: Actually, this my predecessor’s idea, and was passed before I came to office. At this time the Bay Park treatment plant is not in any shape to accept additional unprocessed sewage from other areas. Over a decade of neglect, dismissal, and outright contempt for the people of East Rockaway and Bay Park left a critically important facility in serous disrepair.
Since coming into office, I have worked to renovate the Bay Park Treatment Plant into the state-of-the-art treatment facility Nassau County needs. At the same time, we must provide residents of Bay Park the security of knowing that living near a treatment plant doesn’t have to mean putting up with a dirty, smelly treatment plant.

Moser: I am very troubled by the persistent problems of the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant. Having gone door to door in the area, I smelled the problem firsthand. The only solution to this problem is to build an ocean pipeline and stop dumping in Reynolds Channel.
Currently, the Lawrence station is dumping into Reynolds Channel as well. Once we have fixed the Bay Park facility with an ocean pipeline, if transferring the Five Towns sewage there to stop all flow into Reynolds Channel makes sense. We need to get all sewage dumping away from our beaches and communities.

Herald: What will you do to improve depressed communities such as Inwood?

Kopel: Inwood is an admirably community-minded area. Inwood is no different than many of our communities. Taxes are too high, and are driving people and businesses away. I am in constant contact with various Inwood civic organizations, to be sure I hear and understand their needs. I am committed to use whatever resources are available to me to help businesses and people improve a vibrant and important community.

Moser: Inwood needs to have revitalized affordable housing. I have been a strong proponent of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which has been an amazing model of how Nassau County can leverage state and federal funds to build a stronger county. By buying foreclosed properties and by working with local nonprofits to rehabilitate them into moderately priced housing we are able to create a welcoming environment for new residents and protect the value of the houses of our current residents.

Herald: Homeless families and registered sex offenders both live in the Long Beach Motor Inn. How would you address this problem?

Kopel: Contrary to what some people assume, this facility is not in my legislative district. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it is of no concern to me. It is still close by and, therefore, of concern to the residents of the 7th L.D. I work closely with County Legislator Denise Ford (R-Long Beach), whose district includes the facility, as well as 4th Precinct Inspector Christopher Cleary, to ensure that public safety concerns are met.
Certainly, even if the Department of Social Services feels that this is an appropriate place to house people, no one has the right to cause problems. If the good people of Nassau County are helping people (or even if not) we have the right to expect good and respectful behavior, and an obligation to enforce that expectation.

Moser: What is happening at the Long Beach Motor Inn is very disconcerting as it is also very close to local parks and schools. First, Nassau County must be more mindful of where it is placing people that it is required to provide housing for. Second, the situation shows that our current laws regarding the proximity to schools where sex offenders can reside is far too low.
While the Motor Inn is outside the legal boundary it is well within walking distance of Lincoln Orens Middle School. In order for our county to grow we must make our families feel safe. This issue highlights why I find it all the more troubling that we are proposing gutting our police protection.
We must insure that probation officers have up to date information on the locations of released sex offenders, especially those whose victims have been children. We can work with the police and court system to streamline our monitoring system.

Herald: What other issues do you think are important to your constituents?

Kopel: Taxes are the preeminent issue. People are fed up and will simply not tolerate additional taxes. They laugh when they hear our leaders in certain quarters propose “raising revenue” as the solution, because it is well understood that “revenue” is just code for new taxes. I have kept my pledge to not support new taxes, and have even eliminated tax increases already passed by the previous Democratic county executive and legislature.
When I took office, the area’s infrastructure was in terrible disrepair, and there was a culture of neglect. Our phones ring off the hook because people know that when they call me they will get a response and see action. Two examples of change are the $80 million investment this year into improving the Bay Park swage facility, and rebuilding the Branch Boulevard sidewalks.
My office spends a great deal of time resolving safety issues concerning replacing missing street signs, repainting faded road markings, etc. These sound simple, but I can’t tell you how many times I’m told that call after call failed to get the needed response.
Communication. I put a great deal of effort into staying in touch with constituents through frequent newsletters and other notices about matters of concern. My predecessor and the other Democratic legislators did not communicate with constituents except right before elections. I believe that my constituents know that they can contact me and get action on their issues.

Moser: I think the residents of Nassau County are outraged at Mr. Kopel and his Republican colleagues voting huge pay raises for their party bosses. I think it is appalling that the Republican-led legislature could find money in the budget to vote itself pay raises, tried to ram a tax increase down voters throats to fund a billionaire’s pet project and is seriously considering a budget that will gut our police force and put our citizens in danger.
We should be making Nassau County a safer place, which will attract new businesses and residents. This budget will make it harder to build a financially strong county by making Nassau a less hospitable place to live and work.