Laura Burns challenges Bill Gaylor in Legislative District 6

Incumbent Bill Gaylor and challenger Laura Burns vie for a seat in Legislative District 6.
Incumbent Bill Gaylor and challenger Laura Burns vie for a seat in Legislative District 6.

For the second time in two years, Laura Burns challenges Bill Gaylor for county legislator of District 6.

Gaylor, from Lynbrook, has held his seat since 2015 and was re-elected in 2017 and 2019, when he defeated Burns, 7,936 to 6,674. Burns, of Rockville Centre, is a writer and advocate.

The Herald asked both candidates questions tackling issues that affect residents in District 6, which comprises Malverne, Lynbrook, North Lynbrook, Valley Stream and portions of Rockville Centre, Hewlett, Franklin Square and Woodmere.

Herald: What can be done to further hold the line on taxes and to fix the county’s tax-reassessment system?

Gaylor: I am proud to have never voted for a property tax increase as a legislator. We need to fix the tens of thousands of errors in County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment that resulted in massive property tax increases for South Shore homeowners. We also have to make the reassessment fair, accurate and transparent and provide relief to residents who desperately need it following economic uncertainty during the pandemic. That is why I proposed legislation to eliminate $100 million in fees that residents pay to deliver real financial relief for working class families. 

Burns: It’s all about staying on the path the Curran administration has put us on. Reassessment was absolutely necessary to address Nassau County’s financial woes, as was adopting the Taxpayer Protection Plan. Curran is calling for no additional property taxes for the next four years while the TPP is implemented, and the goal is, ultimately, to have accurate rolls and reduce the necessity of grieving. This is the correct course of action, and I’m concerned that the Republican Majority —which just this month demonstrated its willingness to play politics with the budget — will push the county off the path to fiscal stability by choosing short-term political gain over long-term responsible management.

Herald: Many local businesses took a financial hit during the coronavirus pandemic and have suffered from staffing shortages. What more can be done to help local businesses?  

Gaylor: Small businesses have been through a lot in the past year, but throughout the pandemic, I along with members of the majority, approved tens of millions of dollars in federal funding that went directly to small business relief. We also worked to ensure that businesses had personal protective equipment and created a special revenue fund to pay down county refund liability owed to small businesses. 

Burns: The Boost Nassau initiative is a good first step, connecting business owners with information about the resources available to them. I would push out more information from my office as well, making sure to have it available in the different languages spoken by business owners in the district. There are grants and loans available to help small businesses recover, and I look forward to helping constituents discover and access all helpful programming. We can also think creatively to make our downtowns more desirable destinations. There is Community Revitalization Program money available to help with beautification efforts, and we can expand the Open Streets program to create more walkable downtowns, and we can focus on building workforce housing near transit lines to bring more business to the Long Island Rail Road-adjacent downtowns in my district. For those who lost their jobs due to Covid-19, there are job training programs available.

Herald: What are some of your top priorities going forward if elected? 

Gaylor: As a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, I will continue to advocate for Nassau’s veterans, first responders and seniors to ensure their mental and physical health needs are being met. I will never vote to defund our police and make sure they always have the resources they need to return home safe at the end of their shift. I will also continue to never vote for property tax increases, and fight to make the county executive’s reassessment more fair, accurate and transparent.

Burns: My top priority is to maintain our fiscal health. The taxpayers’ money should be spent on infrastructure, programming and services to make taxpayers’ lives better. We must achieve financial stability and phase out the Nassau Interim Finance Authority so that we can move forward with more funding for the taxpayers.

My first order of business will be to set up a structure for constituent outreach. I plan to hold bimonthly town halls, both in person and via Zoom, and to have weekly “office hours” at different public spaces or small businesses around the district. It’s important that the diverse communities within Legislative District 6 know they have a legislator who wants to hear their concerns, and it’s important that I know what the district’s priorities are so that I can represent them well. There hasn’t been any outreach from the legislator’s office in this district, and it’s sorely needed.

My focus in office will be to assess the infrastructure needs in LD6 and begin work on addressing them, making sure to include constituents in the process. I want any development in the district to include renewable energy and to create good-paying jobs with benefits.

Herald: Why would you be a better fit for the position than your opponent? 

Gaylor: Unlike my opponent, I strongly denounce any legislation that supports defunding the police and oppose Albany’s dangerous cashless bail laws. I have a strong record of supporting law enforcement and will continue to work closely with them to keep our communities safe. Additionally, I will fight to cut taxes and create a more fair and transparent process concerning the current administration’s flawed reassessment system, and correct the numerous errors affecting tens of thousands of Nassau’s homeowners.

Burns: During my years as an advocate for gun violence prevention, I’ve become well-versed in building coalitions among community groups working on different aspects of a complex issue that spans legislation, cultural outreach, public education and community organizing. This grassroots experience is exactly what’s needed in local government — a willingness to seek out diverse voices, gather different points of view, and synthesize them into a plan for action to make people’s lives better. My opponent is content with the status quo, listens only to the voices of his own party, and has ignored 60 percent of the district’s population when it comes to CRP funding. My goal is to improve the quality of life in the district, throughout the entire district. Taxpayers deserve a legislator who represents them all, and we need something better than the status quo.