Harvey Weisenberg, a Democrat from Long Beach and the incumbent state assemblyman in the 20th District, squared off against Republican challenger Dr. David Sussman, a physician from Lawrence, in a debate at the Long Beach Public Library on Oct. 18.
More than 50 residents turned out for the forum, which was hosted by the Long Beach League of Woman Voters. The candidates fielded questions on subjects ranging from pollution in the Western Bays to state school aid to campaign finance reform to upstate mineral extraction.
The 20th District encompasses the entire Long Beach barrier island, Island Park, Oceanside, the Five Towns and parts of East Rockaway and Valley Stream.
In his first bid for the Assembly, Sussman, who grew up in Cedarhurst and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1966, said he wants to take a businessman’s approach to the problems facing Long Island and the state. A Lawrence Board of Education trustee for 18 years, Sussman is running on a platform of lowering taxes and making the district more “business friendly,” saying that seniors and young people can no longer afford to live in the area.
“The taxes are too high — we have the highest taxes in the country, the highest energy costs in the country … businesses aren’t coming, [and] the businesses that are here are having a hard time staying,” Sussman said. “We have to change the way we do business. We have to bring back much more money to our district and change the infrastructure of what’s going on to make us business friendly. I’m running because I believe in this area, I believe our future is in jeopardy and I want to fix it.”
Weisenberg, a former school administrator, Long Beach police officer and city councilman who has served in the Assembly for 23 years, said he is considered one of the most “prolific” legislators in Albany. He noted that he has worked across party lines to pass legislation ranging from Leandra’s Law, which requires those convicted of drunken driving to use an ignition interlock in their vehicles, to the lowering of speed limits to under 30 mph in parts of Long Beach and Lido Beach. He added that he is a staunch advocate for people with disabilities. “I am your voice in Albany,” he said.