When Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker was elected last year in a special election, he saw it as an opportunity to give back.
A lawyer for 35 years, Drucker (D-Plainview) was elected to represent District 16 after the death of longtime Legislator Judy Jacobs.
Drucker is challenged by Angel Cepeda (R-Plainview) in the district covering Plainview, Old Bethpage, Jericho, Syosset, Woodbury, Hicksville, Old Westbury and Roslyn Heights.
During his year in office, Drucker said he has introduced three pieces of legislation: one to enhance police presence around places of worship year round, one to change the county’s tobacco age limit to 21 and one to add “transgender” to the county’s human rights policy.
In the police enforcement bill, Drucker said a provision led to more regular patrols of Roslyn Road at Locust Street, a site of many fatal accidents. Drucker said a traffic study was ordered before he took office but he has yet to see it.
Since May, Drucker said more than 300 tickets have been issued near the intersection.
Drucker, who sits in the minority caucus in the Legislature currently outnumbered 12 to seven by Republicans, said he is in favor of an independent redistricting commission to look at the Nassau County legislative districts to remove gerrymandering from the county.
“We shouldn’t have to wait until 2020 to do it,” Drucker said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “It should be done annually. We need to have an independent commission that can look at this thing fairly. There are districts that are disenfranchised.”
Drucker also said he would vote for an independent inspector general in the county to oversee contracts.
“We have a commissioner of investigation now who does nothing,” Drucker said. “We want to have an independent inspector general, and they would have subpoena power and be able to conduct investigations they can report to us on so they can root out these situations before the occur.”
Drucker said while it is a standard accounting measure to count borrowed money and bond proceeds to balance a budget, “it shouldn’t be done willy nilly for a municipality under extreme financial stress.”
Drucker said he sees many areas where the county’s budget could be cut to reduce the $58 million deficit that the Nassau Interim Finance Authority calculates.
Drucker said if the county stopped using physical payroll checks it would save $1.2 million, and reducing printing countywide could save another $1.87 million. Drucker also said the $330 million budgeted for outside contracts could likely be trimmed.
“The whole notion that the Mangano administration has done since day one is borrow, borrow, borrow and kick the can down the road,” Drucker said. “We have a $134 million debt service every year. The debt service is just interest payments on debt. That’s why our tax base is so high.”
Drucker said the property assessment department has split into two arms: the assessment side and the grievance side.
While many candidates have said the best plan for the assessment system is to turn it over to the town, Drucker said the county should work to fix the broken system with more accurate appraisals and annual assessments.
“We have an obligation to fix what’s broken first before we hand it over to the towns. I’d like to see it become more functional and then gradually turn it over to the towns, but the Town of Oyster Bay certainly isn’t prepared to do it now.”