By Joe Nikic
Anthony D’Urso, who was nominated last week by the Nassau Democratic Party to run for outgoing state Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel’s 16th district seat, said he could not guarantee results to his constituents, but promised to “fight like hell” to solve their problems.
“I hate being called a politician, I am a public servant,” D’Urso said in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media. “I get a natural high when someone calls me, has a problem and I’m successful in resolving that problem.”
D’Urso, 76, of Port Washington, looks set to face off with former Town of North Hempstead Public Safety Commissioner Andrew DeMartin in a Democratic primary to run for Schimel’s seat.
He said that both his administrative and legislative experiences have primed him to serve the 16th Assembly District.
D’Urso served as North Hempstead town councilman from 1992 through 2005.
Prior to that, he worked as assistant commissioner of New York City’s Housing Development Administration.
“I have records of accomplishment in the administrative side of government and the legislative side of government,” D’Urso said. “I have advocated always to work and defend the interests of the people.”
If elected, he said, he would fight against the “cultural corruption” that has overcome the state’s elected officials.
D’Urso said he would suggest taking away the pensions of elected officials who are indicted, which could prevent future instances of political corruption.
“When they get convicted, automatically strip their pension,” he said. “That can be a deterrent.”
D’Urso said he wanted to limit the outside income a state legislator could receive to 15 percent of the $79,500 salary that he or she collects each year.
He also said wanted to close the “LLC loophole,” which allows someone with multiple entities to donate to political campaigns from each business, by requiring name affiliation with each entity, so the same person can give no more than one donation.
Another issue D’Urso said he wanted to tackle was how public school districts are funded.
He said it would be “fair” to use an income tax percentage to fund public schools rather than the property tax system that is currently used.
“It is one of the most burdensome taxes that we pay,” D’Urso said of the school property tax system.
He said he wanted to intertwine affordable housing, education and sustainable development.
To do this, D’Urso said, he would look to improve some of the 16th Assembly district’s various downtown areas by building new “transportation hubs” that would create more affordable housing, jobs and more accessible transportation for Long Island’s residents.
“I want to make sure that our children, grandchildren and future generations can enjoy the same American Dream,” he said. “There is not only one factor to achieve that goal, I guarantee that.”
D’Urso said he supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $1.5 billion plan to add a track along 9.8 miles of the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, citing its environmental benefits for the community.
“In the scheme of things, I think it is a good thing,” he said. “If we do what I think is the right thing to do, we will also protect the environment because you would take a lot of cars off the road.”
D’Urso also said the third track would benefit working citizens because there is limited north-to-south transportation service on Long Island as most buses and trains just go east-to-west and vice versa.
While he is a Democrat, he said, he would be willing to work with Republican legislators if the issues within his district were being neglected by Democratic Assembly members.
“First of all, politics, government and the constitution of the United States is based on compromising if you want to get things done,” D’Urso said. “You can be as resolute as you want to achieve a certain means for your goals within the law, but there comes a point where you might have to bend a little to achieve that goal.”
“As long as I don’t have to sell my soul, my integrity,” he added.
D’Urso, who was unanimously nominated to run for the 16th Assembly District by the Nassau Democratic Committee last Wednesday, said he supports the legalization of marijuana.
He said he has never met Matt Varvaro, who the Nassau Republican Committee nominated on May 19 to run for Schimel’s seat.
The 16th Assembly district includes Great Neck, New Hyde Park, Port Washington, Manhasset, Williston Park, North Hills, East Hills, Old Westbury and a portion of Roslyn Estates.