Barbara Hafner, a retired teacher and candidate for the Nassau County Legislature, said that more communication is needed between the county government and residents.
Hafner, who is running as a Democrat, said in a sitdown interview with Blank Slate Media that she retired from teaching in the West Hempstead school district in June and sees serving as a representative of the 8th District to be her full-time job.
As an educator, Hafner said that a successful school did not depend only on the work of a single faculty member but that she had to communicate with her colleagues, parents, administrators and the school superintendent.
“Communication and relationships are key,” Hafner said.
Hafner said that while her opponent, Legislator Vincent Muscarella(R-West Hempstead), whom she calls “Vinny” because they grew up on the same block, said he attends civic meetings and other events, she found that a lot of people she met while campaigning didn’t even know who their legislator was.
“When you take on a position to serve you have to be there for [the residents],” Hafner said.
Muscarella did not respond to requests for an interview.
The 8th District encompasses Franklin Square, Floral Park, Bellerose, Bellerose Terrace, West Hempstead and portions of Elmont, New Hyde Park and Stewart Manor.
On assessment, Hafner voiced her support for County Executive Laura Curran’s “Taxpayer Protection Plan,” which would bring an incremental five-year phase-in of property tax values of homes in Nassau County. Hafner said, however, that Curran’s office could communicate better with county residents on the issue.
Hafner said she was in favor of downtown revitalization efforts in her district, saying that while incorporated villages have a lot of power in what they can do in their areas, unincorporated areas may not have that power. What’s important is learning how we can help grow our towns, she said.
Hafner said she is in favor of redistricting in Nassau County in 2020, saying that Legislator Laura Schaefer’s (R-Westbury) district looks like a “lizard,” due to gerrymandering in 2010.
Hafner said that she did not know Floral Park well until she went door to door campaigning and said that the village’s Article 78 lawsuit against the state agency overseeing an Islanders arena project at Belmont Park is a “wait and see.”
She said that she is not against the project, but stressed that the land must best serve the people of the area.
“If that’s going to bring in businesses and money into our community, then I think it’s a good thing,” Hafner said. “But I think how it’s built should be based on the community needs.”
Hafner, who said she was active in her union and that her father was a crane operator, said she did not attend the “groundbreaking” ceremony at Belmont Park, but criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not mentioning labor workers during his speech.
“This guy wants our support as unions. Pay attention to the people that you want support from,” Hafner said.