Zuckerman touts fiscal responsibility, tax cuts in re-election bid for North Hempstead Town Board

Zuckerman touts fiscal responsibility, tax cuts in re-election bid for North Hempstead Town Board
Councilman Peter Zuckerman

North Hempstead Council Member Peter Zuckerman is vying for re-election to the Town Board, running on fiscal responsibility and committed to securing a tax cut in the Town’s budget proposed this year.

The East Hills resident joined the board in 2014 to fill the unfinished term of Thomas Dwyer, who resigned from the board to take a job in the private sector. He is running for a third four-year term against Republican challenger Edward Scott, a commissioner of the Albertson Water District.

Zuckerman said the most important issues that he is addressing are the Town’s fiscal responsibility and upholding the quality of life in the Town through services and affordability.

“Specifically in my district, during my tenure, we’ve done some amazing things,” Zuckerman told Blank Slate Media.

Last year, Zuckerman, along with Democrats Veronica Lurvey and Mariann Dalimonte, co-sponsored a 5% tax cut with a budget that added $2 million to roads, $1 million for tree removals and replantings and $1 million for sidewalks.

He said Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena initially proposed a budget last year with a 2% tax increase, which was shot down by Town Democrats. After that, DeSena submitted a second budget which had a higher tax cut than the Dems’ proposal at 11%.

“So there was some political, whatever you want to call it, jockeying on the supervisor’s part with respect to that,” Zuckerman said.

On Sept. 29 DeSena submitted her second tentative budget that includes a 10% tax cut and said the Town is projecting a $2 million surplus in this year’s budget.

Zuckerman said he is still reviewing the tentative budget but is concerned she may submit a second one as she did last year.

“I’m committed to a tax cut, but I need to review this budget further so that I can get into it a little bit,” Zuckerman said.

Democrat supervisor candidate Jon Kaiman has been criticized for increasing taxes over his tenure as North Hempstead’s supervisor by 44%, but Zuckerman said he would still be comfortable working with him if he is elected supervisor.

He said that Kaiman’s pattern of increasing taxes can be attributed to other issues. He said he would take Kaiman’s tax increase “with a grain of salt.”

The Town’s budget comes amid controversy over the sudden resignation of the comptroller and the Town’s lack of two deputy comptrollers. Both DeSena and Town Democrats have blamed each other for the comptroller’s resignation.

DeSena previously said it was due to Democrats and a broken chain of command. Zuckerman said he believes DeSena’s side of the story is inaccurate.

“The fact that she’s indicated an opinion like that is typical of the things that we’ve been dealing with,” Zuckerman said.

He said he does not appreciate the supervisor making a statement that he does not believe to be true.

“I’ll let my record and the record of my Democratic council people stand on its own because we believe we’ve done everything in accordance to make the Town of North Hempstead government function appropriately despite roadblocks,” Zuckerman said.

He said the town needs to push ahead to continue serving residents.

“We must go on and move forward,” Zuckerman said. “We have a government to run and we can’t sit here and delve into what we have and what we don’t have. It’s all hands on deck and we need to move forward.”

Despite the fighting between the Town’s Republicans and Democrats, Zuckerman said that he would be able to work alongside DeSena if they both are re-elected.

“I have a job to do. You know me, and I’m going to do that job regardless of who I’m working with,” Zuckerman said. “I’m going to treat them professionally and act in an appropriate way and move forward for the good of the Town of North Hempstead.”

Zuckerman also said the building department needs to be improved in order to speed up operations to get permits approved. He said while it has improved as of late, the department can still be better.

“We need our local businesses, we need our storefronts, we need to have local businesses,” Zuckerman said. “We want people to shop local, we want to entice local businesses to open in our town and we need to do better.”

Zuckerman said that in response to calls for increased housing, he along with the rest of the Town Board opposed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s state plan to expand housing on the island.

He said the decision should be up to the local government municipalities.

“The local municipalities and authorities know the communities best and I think it’s more suited for these local entities,” Zuckerman said.

He said local control with incentives is the best approach to increase housing while still catering to the desires and abilities of a community.

Zuckerman said he opposes the idea of rezoning areas to allow mixed-use buildings, instead rather favoring the case-by-case approach to review plans.

“I’m concerned that in the mass sweep, so to speak, that things will get lost,” Zuckerman said.

Zuckerman recently presented a Town resolution to authorize funding for a flight plan analysis, the first step in presenting potential litigation against the FAA to address air traffic issues that have plagued the Town.

“It’s not just Roslyn or Great Neck or Mineola or Albertson or Port Washington,” Zuckerman said. “It’s everywhere.”

The analysis, which was passed by the town board, will allow the Town to submit documentation to the federal government to show the degree to which planes fly over the Town.

“There needs to be equitable distribution,” Zuckerman said. “That’s what we need. We’re only asking for equitable distribution.”

He said the Town is still awaiting the results of the flight plan analysis.

Zuckerman said voters should re-elect him because he is fiscally responsible and is committed to maintaining the quality of life for residents.

In his most recent term, Zuckerman has sponsored improvements at Clark Botanic Garden in Roslyn Heights, which he called a jewel of his district. Specifically, the garden had installed a new greenhouse, all trails were made ADA-compliant and the Clark House’s roof was replaced, Zuckerman said. 

The council member said he plans to put out to bid a contract for new windows, siding and plumbing at the Clark House early next year with construction beginning in the spring. 

At John D. Caemmerer Park in Albertson, Zuckerman said a new playground and fencing were put in, trails were made ADA-compliant and that he is working with state Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) to renovate the fields. 

At Donald Street Park in Roslyn Heights, Zuckerman said new basketball hoops and pavement were installed alongside outdoor exercise equipment with playground renovations. 

“I am in this community and I am part of this community and I look forward to representing this community to the best of my knowledge and to the best that I can do going forward,” Zuckerman said.

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