State Sen. Craig Johnson, D - Port Washington, and Mayor Jack Martins, R, I, C, - Mineola, faced off in a second round of debates Wednesday night at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock Wednesday night moderated by the League of Women voters in a town hall style format.
Patch will be bringing you coverage of the debate over the course of five days, focusing on a different debate topic each day.
With many residents still feeling as though the economy has not turned around for them, the topic of jobs was a natural first topic of discussion. A resident questioned whether or not the candidates felt that the Federal stimulus had any lasting effect in creasting jobs, similar to the New Deal under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
While the $14 billion inFederal stimulus money "passes through" New York on its way to other locations, "the problem is," Johnson said, "is a lot of the money went upstate to projects that none of us see." Many "shovel ready" projects were located upstate and in New York City.
Johnson's solution is to "get government out of the business contraction" through an idea orignally put forth by senate Republicans in 2009: a "red tape commission" where business people are given authority to look through state statues, regulations and laws "and decide what works and what doesn't work and what doesn't work, give them the authority to get rid of it." Johnson cited the "power for jobs" initiative which he says has created "thousands of jobs" in the healthcare industry, notably North-Shore LIJ hospital.
"You can argue whether or not the New Deal actually made a difference," Martins said, "but lets look at the realities." The Mayor cited Jones Beach, Bethpage State Park, parkways, and school buildings, including several in Mineola as evidence of the New Deal's results. However, "we didn't see that with the stimulus money that came to New York State and certainly I can't point to anything that was built here on Long Island that resulted from the monies that were spent."
Martins concentrated on Mineola's revitalization project in the downtown area near the train station. Projects are slated to start within the next 12 months, "even during this economy, not only for condos but for rental houses, affordable senior houses, affordable next generation housing, and if we're going to create jobs, those jobs are going to come in our own backyards."
The seventh state senatorial district of New York includes Mineola, Port Washington, Great Neck, Roslyn, Westbury and Hicksville.