Arnold Drucker touts need to cut taxes in re-election bid

Arnold Drucker touts need to cut taxes in re-election bid

Nassau County Democrat Legislator Arnold Drucker says one of the most important issues he sees in his bid for re-election is fighting against any moves to raise taxes.

Drucker, of Plainview, is running for re-election for a fourth two-year term on the Democrat and Working Family Party lines. Drucker was first elected to the county Legislature during a special election in 2016 and is being challenged by Jericho Water Commissioner James Asmus, who is running on the Republican and Conservative Party lines. 

“When I talk to my constituents, the most important thing is we need to find a way to hold the line on taxes,” Drucker said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.

Drucker was one of five county Democrats to call on Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to fulfill a campaign promise and deliver $128 million in tax relief for this year’s county budget, which did not come to fruition. 

Drucker criticized the county’s Department of Assessment as “a rudderless ship adrift at sea” that needs a qualified county assessor in charge. Earlier this year, Nassau County Acting Assessor Matthew Cronin resigned from his position to become the director of asset management for Suffolk County.

“We have inaccurate assessments and that results in grievances, which results in refunds and creates a big economic drain,” Drucker said. “We have to now borrow money each year to pay for these tax refunds.”

The legislator said to help remedy the county’s assessment system the tax roll should be “unfrozen immediately.” Drucker added that when former Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, froze the tax roll in 2022, it was supposed to be temporary due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I don’t see any justifiable reason to keep the rolls frozen anymore,” Drucker said. “We should start giving back to the people that have been overpaying and the people that have been underpaying should start paying their rightful share.”

Nassau began to freeze tax rolls in 2008, a practice that was continued by former Executive Ed Mangano for eight years before his successor, Laura Curran, lifted it in 2018.

During that period, thousands of residents filed grievances on the value of their homes, winning reduced assessments and shifting the tax burden onto others who did not challenge their assessments.

A Newsday report from 2019 showed some $2.7 billion in property taxes were shifted over the eight years and people who did not challenge their property taxes were assessed at a level 29.2% greater than those who did.

With New York State pushing for an increase in housing, Drucker said Gov. Kathy Hochul started the conversation officially and that he has been a major proponent of affordable housing in Nassau.

“We have an unsustainable economy because of the lack of affordable housing,” he said. “We have the brightest and best minds who are educated in the highest performing high schools in the country and they never come back because they can’t afford it.”

Drucker added that he was one of the only Democrats in the county Legislature who supported the push for affordable housing while acknowledging why it received so much pushback by local officials. 

“I think when push comes to shove we will support projects that promote transit-oriented development that’s affordable,” Drucker said. “That’s the only way to get it done.”

On police reform, Drucker said he believes state Attorney General Letitia James can provide adequate oversight against excessive force that results in injuries after speaking with her a few years ago before the county adopted sweeping police reforms ordered by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. 

Drucker pointed to the department’s new training center in Uniondale in 2021 and increased training for situations such as crowd control among the reasons for better policing. 

In 2021, James denied the request of Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), Legislator Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) and Legislator Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence) to establish a third-party oversight committee for the county’s Police Department. 

In a letter at the time, James acknowledged the benefits of establishing a remote office and criticized the county for not including “meaningful checks on law enforcement.” She also cited the lack of necessary funding to establish a remote oversight office in Nassau. 

Drucker said he took issue with the letter sent by the three legislators, who are people of color, without consulting the four other minority legislators in the county. 

“Now you’re creating a real racial division within the caucus,” Drucker said. “That was a big problem and I still think it’s a big problem because that wasn’t the only example of things that were done by those three legislators intending to be representative of the whole caucus.”

On the state’s migrant crisis, Drucker said he does not believe the Legislature has a say in the matter, but Executive Bruce Blakeman–who is not allowing migrants to be housed in Nassau–does.

Drucker said he is an advocate for addressing the opioid issue exacerbated by the presence of fentanyl on Long Island and that he would support any initiative to support opioid treatment. 

He said the pros outweigh the cons by a lot when considering the Sands Las Vegas casino and resort proposal in Uniondale.

Drucker said he is a staunch advocate for addressing the opioid issue exacerbated by the presence of fentanyl in Long Island, pushing for fentanyl test strips throughout the county and hosting Narcan training sessions.

On the Nassau County Police Department’s website, the most up-to-date information on year-to-date crime statistics is only through May 29 of this year. Drucker said he can’t answer why the Police Department won’t make their statistics public on a monthly basis, but pointed out that Nassau County has been voted the safest county in the country two years in a row, according to U.S. News & World Report. 

Nevertheless, there has been a surge in automobile and catalytic converter thefts, which Drucker said has been tackled by increasing engagement with constituents and community leaders to raise awareness while also working with law enforcement. 

“Once people were alerted to the fact that this was an easy crime to mitigate against, they’ve cracked down on it,” he said. 

Drucker said residents should vote for him instead of his opponent since he believes he’s good at his job because of a unique combination of ability, perspective and passion. The legislator said he thinks he’s one of the only legislators who was born, raised, married and started a family all in one community.

“I feel like I have my finger on the pulse of this community with my eyes shut,” Drucker said. “And I think that gives me a great perspective.”

Drucker’s interview with Blank Slate Media can be seen on YouTube.

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