Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) said she is campaigning for her seventh term by promoting the results she has achieved for her district and her ability to work with the Republican members of the county Legislature to achieve more.
“I have a number of projects in my district that are coming to fruition,” she said in a sitdown interview with Blank Slate Media. “And I think that’s partially because I can work with Rich Nicolello and I think I have their respect, and I think they listen to me when I ask for something.”
She was referring to Richard Nicolello, the presiding officer of the Republican-controlled Legislature.
DeRiggi-Whitton is the Democratic incumbent running against James Greenberg, a Republican, for Nassau County’s 11th District, which comprises Port Washington, parts of Manhasset and Roslyn, the City of Glen Cove and a small portion of the Town of Oyster Bay.
She said she is particularly proud of the Democratic effort to reform the county procurement process such as the push to create an inspector general to oversee county contracts and introducing a law setting a maximum spending limit for county contracts.
County contracts previously only disclosed a minimum spending amount, to which DeRiggi-Whitton joked: “If I give my daughter my debit card, I don’t say spend at least $20.”
She said she has also stopped the passage of contracts that were signed by the previous administration. These contracts now require a second signature from a member of the current administration.
DeRiggi-Whitton said she is particularly worried over the impact reassessment will have on the high-end homes in her district, particularly the Village of Sea Cliff, where she said a large number of households will see an increase of over $5,000 on their property taxes.
She said when she initially voted for countywide reassessment, she thought assessors were going to go house to house to determine property values, but instead the Department of Assessment implemented a “neighborhood factor” which she said makes “no sense.”
She described an instance in Sea Cliff in which the neighborhood factor of homes facing the water is lower than those behind the commercial street.
The 12-year legislator said the Assessment Review Commission is seeing a record number of grievances this year, which are not being granted because the department is not finding an issue with comparative home sales not matching assessed values. But DeRiggi-Whitton said she has worries about those matters reaching the courts, which she said could uphold grievances.
“There’s a big percentage of people that we can’t justify the number,” she said.
DeRiggi-Whitton said she does not support the Republican-backed “Assessment Bill of Rights” but she did vote for the full release of the formula used to determine county home values because that is “transparent government.”
She said the county only released about 85 percent of the formula over the summer.
If re-elected, DeRiggi-Whitton said she would support the county’s use of an independent redistricting commission to redraw legislative districts, a process completed every 10 years based on data obtained through the U.S. Census.
Some of the county-funded projects DeRiggi-Whitton is executing in her district focus on the environment and downtown revitalization.
Some of that, she said, is just laying down the groundwork to support a growing downtown such as installing sewers along the main roads in her district, a basic requirement for an increased business presence.
“Ninety percent of Nassau County is sewered,” she said, “and I think almost all of it is in my district and a little bit in Great Neck that is not sewered.”
She said sewer work is underway in Sea Cliff but some areas such as Roslyn Harbor will pose a challenge.
DeRiggi-Whitton secured county money to revitalize the Village of Manorhaven’s main street, Manorhaven Boulevard. The road will see handicap-accessible sidewalks, new paving and enhance the area’s nautical charm among other efforts.
She said she was proud to announce that of the 112 trees situated along the boulevard, only nine will be cut down, all of which she said are being removed because of poor physical condition.
She said she believes the project will help economically stimulate and draw people to an area that she thinks has strong potential.
While she said she supports downtown growth and millennial housing, DeRiggi-Whitton said the approach needs to be implemented methodically and on a case-by-case basis.
“You want to say ‘let’s grow, let’s grow, let’s grow,” she said. But she said that must be done under the condition that it can be supported “with infrastructure and you know for sure the market is there.”
On the topic of how the county should regulate marijuana in the event it is legalized, she said she “isn’t sure what we should do.”
She said the county is in crisis from the opioid epidemic and she has concerns over marijuana’s possible classification as a “gateway drug,” one that opens the doors to additional drug use.
Elections will be held on Nov. 5 for all contested posts on the Nassau County Legislature and North Hempstead Town Board.