Howard Kopel, of Lawrence, sailed into office in 2009 on a conservative wave that ousted former Legislator Jeff Toback and County Executive Tom Suozzi.
In his first bid for reelection, he faces a challenge from Democrat Adam Moser, who served from 1999 to 2005 as a Nassau County District Court judge.
Patch spoke with both men about a multitude of issues as residents head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Click here to find your polling station.
Kopel, 60, is a lawyer by training, but mostly works in the title insurance field. Kopel is a member of many local organizations such as synagogues and is on the board of directors of the Valley Stream Chamber of Commerce. He’s been in the office since 2010.
Kopel is married with four children and eight grandchildren.
Moser, 47, was elected in November 1999 to serve a six-year term as judge on Nassau County district court. He ran unsuccessfully for family court judge in 2002 and for reelection in 2005. Since 2006, he’s been in private practice in Rockville Centre.
Moser is a member of the Nassau County Bar Association, Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre and Silver Point Beach Club and was a coach for the Hewlett-Lawrence Soccer Club.
Moser is married with three kids.
Patch: What do you think are the top concerns of Five Towns residents as they prepare to vote in November?
Kopel: Taxes. Taxes are doing terrible damage to the county. The taxes are driven by years and years of fiscal irresponsibility. There’s a tremendous hole dug by my predecessor and Democrats that we’re starting to dig out of without raising taxes. Taxes are so high that it’s causing people to leave.
Moser: The first one is the county budget. The issue is always there, is this going to cost me money? Are services going to be cut? Are fees going to be raised? Another big issue is the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.
Patch: How do you propose we fix the county’s finances?
Kopel: I recently voted for my second consecutive no-tax increase budget. We’ve cut a tremendous amount of money out of the budget in the last year-and-a-half. We started with a $150 million deficit, now we have a surplus. We’re delivering the services the way they need to be without burdening the residents. As long as I’m there and Republicans remain in power, taxes won’t go up on the county level.
Moser: You have to fix the finances first by living in your means. You have to be careful with the contracts you sign. What you need to do with the county is raise income. One way to do that is develop the Hub area and make it more attractive. I would love to look at [Hub] proposals in more depth. But nothing seems to be moving along. Waiting is not the answer. We have to be proactive.
Patch: The New York State Supreme Court struck down the legislature’s plan to adopt redistricted lines this year, but said they still stand for 2013. Do you think the plan should stay in place as is?
Kopel: The original plan would have split the Five Towns much more so than the current version. That’s due to my intersession. My personal preference is to keep the entire Five Towns in the district. That having been said, there are certain legal and constitutional requirements we have to be abide by. We’re going to have to make changes to the county map. Someone is going to be unhappy no matter what you do. We’ll have to go through hearings and I want to hear what everyone has to say.
Moser: I’m not for making the Five Towns into two-and-a-half towns. If the Democrats are in control, they shouldn’t put themselves in power and Republicans shouldn’t put themselves in power. As long as an independent panel can review and approve it, that’s the way it should be.
Patch: Is there anything that the legislature can do to make sure that Five Towns residents’ tap water is clean and safe?
Kopel: I drink the same water; my family drinks the same water. I have a personal incentive to make sure it’s good. My office is going to monitor the water quality. If there’s any indication of a health concern, we’ll jump all over it.
Moser: Strict guidelines and testing and reviews of the plants. You need to have people in there to look at the plants on a schedule. We need to look around with experts to make sure everything is running properly. If it’s not, it needs to be fixed and residents need to be notified. The state is really in charge with inspections. We need to work with the state to make sure they go in and everything is working properly.