What Nassau County Democratic Legislator Judy Jacobs calls “caring for her communities,” her Republican opponent Angel Cepeda calls “reactionary.”
Cepeda is running against Jacobs to become legislator for Nassau County’s 16th district.
The 16th district encompasses Plainview, Old Bethpage, Jericho, Syosset, Woodbury, Hicksville, Old Westbury and Roslyn Heights.
“These [legislative] positions should be more visionary than reactionary,” Cepeda said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Cepeda, a Plainview resident who came to America from Ecuador when was he two years old, described Jacobs office’s approach to helping residents as “a call center,” where residents tell Jacobs what they need, rather than Jacobs reaching out to help residents.
Jacobs, a Woodbury resident who is currently serving her tenth term as legislator, said that “just because the administration that is in place right now has made a lot of errors, it doesn’t mean that the players in there are all tainted.”
“[I] care about [my] community’s problems,” she said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “I solve their problems. I deliver for them. I [am] compassionate and caring. I make certain what they need, they get. You don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.”
During her 20 years as county legislator, which included a stint as presiding officers when the Democrats controlled the Legislature, Jacobs has been at the forefront of a number of legislative efforts.
Jacobs said she helped ban smoking in all restaurants, bars and workplaces in the county. She said she has also worked with leaders from Suffolk County on issues like Medicaid reform and economic development that affect residents across Long Island.
Recently, Jacobs has been working on the final phase of the Roslyn Road improvement.
Jacobs said the proposed changes would condense Roslyn Road from I.U. Willets Road to the Long Island Expressway Service Road from four lanes to two.
The cutoff for Locust Lane would also be eliminated and a traffic light would be installed the intersection of Roslyn Road and Locust Lane. Jacobs said drivers would have the ability to “stack up” and make a normal right turn with the help of a traffic a light, Jacobs said.
“You’re going to see a traffic light at Roslyn Rd. and Locust Lane,” Jacobs said. “You’re going to see normal turning. You’re going to see two lanes, one in each direction, hopefully going the speed limit, and hopefully curing the problem.”
Jacobs is hopeful that the final phase of the improvement will be heard and voted on by the Rules Committee at the meeting of the Nassau County Legislature on Oct. 29.
Despite Jacobs’ effort, Cepeda said that problem on Roslyn Road “should have been anticipated.”
“The truth of the matter is [Jacobs] should have been on top of it,” Cepeda said.
Cepeda, who said he has “never been involved in the political machinery,” comes from a financial background.
He has worked for Bank America, and as an IT Audit Director at the accounting firm of Paul Scherer & Company LLP in New York City.
Since 2010, Cepeda has served as the president of Blue Mountain Consulting Group. As president, he was worked to help small businesses.
Cepeda said he began to get involved in the community eight years ago, when he began to “[feel] the bite of property taxes.”
“I started looking at my bill and realized that 70-75 percent [of it] comes from the school district,” he said. “So I went to my school board and I realized the board members were the ones who made the decisions on financial issues. As I saw the makeup of the board I quickly realized that they were fine people, [with] good hearts but none of them had financial backgrounds to deal with $120-$130 million budgets. [It] seems a little odd that folks who are determining a big part of the impact on my home finances are not really skilled in those areas to do a lot.”
After serving two terms as a trustee on the Plainview-Old Bethpage Board of Education from 2007-2012, Cepeda said, his time spent there “helped [him] to add fiscal discipline.”
Despite a projected $100 million-$200 million deficit predicted by the Nassau Interim Finance Authority for the 2016 county budget, Cepeda said he is not in favor of raising taxes.
“My campaign was against higher taxes because, in my opinion, [in order to get out of] a recession, you can’t [raise] taxes, you can’t [borrow] and you cant do that simply by cutting,” he said.
Cepeda said that he is hopeful that the legislators already in office will be able to get a budget passed.
But, if a budget is not passed, and Cepeda is elected, he said he is ready to “jump in feet first” to get up to speed on helping craft a balanced budget.
Jacobs said that she “[doesn’t] see a way out” when it comes to balancing the budget.
“I told one of NIFA staff people take [over the budget],” she said. “I hope I’m wrong [about the budget]. I would be thrilled if I was wrong. Right now, I don’t see the drive, on the administration’s part, to do what has to be done. What they’ve been doing and they way they’ve done it has created more of a hole. To me, this is exceptionally disturbing.”
Jacobs said that the county Legislature should “never have been in this position.”
“Raising taxes like [County Executive Ed Mangano] is doing is not going to balance this budget,” she said. “We’re going to come up with a plan where we will find heaviness in the budget that could be cut. Certainly no one wants us to touch social services. No one wants child care [or] senior care taken [cut.] There’s not much fluff left in the budget.”
In the end, Cepeda said, “this legislative race boils down to two things: energy and capacity.”
“The truth of the matter is that we are in two different seasons of life,” Cepeda said. “I think I bring a great deal to the table.
Jacobs, who said her family is her “main priority,” said she feels she is well equipped to handle whatever issue she comes across.
“If I can handle nine grandchildren, I can handle any problem that comes my way,” she said.