Weisenberg, Sussman Square Off in Debate in Long Beach

Candidates answer question about the most pressing issue facing 20th Assembly District.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) and Republican challenger Dr. David Sussman of Lawrence on Thursday took their campaigns to the Long Beach Library, where they faced off in a candidate forum, the third in a series held throughout the 20th Assembly District before Election Day.

The Long Beach League of Women Voters hosted the forum, which attracted about 50 attendees who submitted more than a dozen questions to moderator Marion Flemming of Hempstead. The issues included the city’s deficit financing bill that died in the senate last June, water quality in west end bays, eliminating the Atlantic Beach Bridge toll, flood maps, MTA reform, hydro fracturing, alleged gas station "gouging," and campaign finance reform. Other questions touched on more personal issues, such as the candidates’ motivations for running for assembly, as well as their involvement in charities.

Both candidates running for the 20th Assembly District — which covers the entire Long Beach barrier island, Five Towns, Oceanside, Island Park and parts of East Rockaway and Valley Stream  — are educators. Weisenberg is a former teacher and school administrator in East Meadow, while Sussman has sat on the Lawrence Board of Education for the past 18 years. Weisenberg is a lifelong Long Beach resident and was first elected to the assembly in 1989. Sussman, a physician who grew up in Cedarhurst and lives in Lawrence, is making his first run at an assembly seat.  

Over the coming days, Patch will highlight some individual questions that the candidates answered at the Oct. 18 forum. 

What is the most pressing problem in our district?

Weisenberg, who was the first in order to answer this particular question, said that while the district is “taxed,” the most important issue right now is the ability of government officials and activists to protect Long Island's water supply. Touching on a subject that was raised earlier in the debate, Weisenberg cited the Lloyd Aquifer, considered one of the three most important aquifers on the island, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  

“If this Lloyd is damaged, because we have salt-water intrusion, we’re going to end up losing our ability to have our drinking water,” Weisenberg said. “Again, this is a really very important issue, because it is only a question of time after we find what that contamination is that exists in our water supply.”

Weisenberg also pointed to a problem with hydrogen sulfide, a poisonous gas that emits an odor of rotten eggs, in Point Lookout last summer, in which he said people who dined at restaurants on the bay were unable to breath, coughing and choking from the pungent smell.

“We ended up having the DEC come down there,” Weisenberg explained. “They said they couldn’t get a permit. I had a hearing down there; the next day they had a permit, and they started to clean up the problem that existed there.”

The incumbent assemblyman predicted that the problem would reoccur. “I’m telling you, the public and the conservationists have to really rally in support to make sure that we have the oversight of local governments, the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County and people from the environmental community, advocating to make sure that we get what’s necessary to protect our water supply.”

But Sussman said he couldn’t disagree more. He emphasized that the most important problems facing the district are “taxes, taxes, and taxes, and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Sussman said that all the district’s residents have neighbors on their streets who are in danger of moving because they can’t pay their taxes, and that college graduates who return home can’t find work.

“We want our children to come back here, and we want to be able to keep our promises to unions and to pensions, and the only way we can do that is to decrease taxes and decrease the structure from Albany and bring business here,” he said.  

When Weisenberg was first elected assemblyman more than twenty years ago, Sussman said, there were 34 Congressman from New York, but today there are 27, suggesting that constituencies have declined due to people who have fled the state.  

“If we are doing everything right, why are we losing relative population and losing influence,” Sussman asked. “If we’re the model, then why isn’t everyone coming? It’s because of taxes, regulations and being business un-friendly. And this is job number one for every legislator.”  

The next Candidate Forum with Wesienberg and Sussman will be held at the Island Park Library, 176 Long Beach Road, at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. 
Bojames October 22, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Are either of them going to do something about NYS Real Property Law 460 which gives "clergy" whopping tax exemptions on their PRIVATE homes. It is a flawed law that allows what should be a $1,500 ( as it is elsewhere) to be inflated to an average of $12,000+ in Hewlett-Woodmere UFSD #14. 32 homeowners in H/W pay NO SCHOOL TAXES. Some exemptions approach $15,000. The law needs a rewrite and Harvey has done nothing about it. Why? more info ? write ...clergyexemption@gmail.com
Stanley Borensohn October 22, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Drinking water? I'll tell you that when I heard that I needed a drink myself. something a little stronger than tap water. I wasn't the only one. I swear, there was an audible gasp inthe room when he said that.
The ghost of Saint Brendan October 22, 2012 at 02:47 PM
@Stanley Borensohn Very true Harvey the only time you see him if he's naming something (after himself),, promoting Suntan lotion ( remember his billboard in five towns) or riding in a parade strategically located in the front wearing a clothing ensemble corresponding with the theme. He's been in the State Assembly since 1989 a few years ago his campaign theme was his experience and tenure was needed in Albany to protect in Albany and the Beach. Harvey is full of Marlarkey
Tideline October 22, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Of the thousands of bill boards that I have seen in my lifetime, Harvey's annual bathing suit one by JFK, that I had to drive past twice per day was the worst one, by far that I have ever seen. Did he ever even work in L.B. as a Lifeguard ?
Carmela Soprano October 23, 2012 at 06:42 PM
David Sussman going to take on your fight Bojames? He advocates for private schools and has stripped District 15 schools of services for all the public school students. David Sussman has been a board member for 18 years and the test scores in the district has plummeted to next to the last of all Nassau County schools. But he will hand out free bookbags and supplies to private school students nearby. Some public school students have NO SUPPLIES!


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