Nassau County Politics: A Promising New Face in Local Politics

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From the classroom to the courtroom to a candidate for Nassau County’s 19th District Legislator; Steve Rhoads got his first taste of politics when he was thirteen years old. Hoping to gain five extra credit points on his social studies grade and impress his homeroom teacher he decided to volunteer for her husband, state assemblyman Fred Perolla.

After volunteering in seventh grade, Rhoads found a future in local politics. He worked under Perolla for four more sessions in the state assembly in Albany before returning to Long Island to become a local committee person. Today he is running for Nassau County Legislator of the 19th district which runs from Freeport to Seaford, using many of the same techniques he learned from Perolla’s campaign.

“I made the decision to run, to be perfectly honest, because I am tired of seeing all the gridlock,” said Rhoads.

“I am tired of seeing all the Democrats refuse to work with Republicans, Republicans refuse to work with Democrats. People who are part of the middle, who are the ones that are paying the taxes, really need their government to work for them.”

Dave Denenberg has had control over the 19th district of Nassau County for the past 14 years and has easily become a household name. Rhoads, the underdog in the election, has had the difficult task of not only introducing his policies but enforcing his credibility as a politician.

“He doesn’t have the experience,” said Claudia Borecky, the Public Relations Manager for Dave Denenberg.

“You need to work with government, and in government, to understand people’s needs, the community’s needs, your constituent’s needs.”

Rhoads may not have 14 years as a legislator to tote on his resume, but he is not unfamiliar with holding leadership roles in the community. Rhoads was the former Deputy Bureau Chief of the Nassau County Attorney’s Bureau of Tort and Civil Rights Litigation. He currently practices law for Grey and Grey L. L. P. and is responsible for the firm’s Long Island personal injury matters.

Rhoads was also captain of the Wantagh Volunteer Fire Department  for five years, where he has served since 1992.

20 year old James Holman, a fellow Volunteer Firefighter for Nassau County and four year employee for Grey and Grey L.L.P. describes working with Rhoads as an enjoyable and learning experience.

“I believe that Steve’s friendship with myself and the other clerks in the office has opened his eyes to the problems us young people will face in the future,” said Holman.

“Housing in Nassau County is extremely expensive and the prospect of buying a house in the future for young people looks quite dim.”

Lowering property taxes is just one of the policies Rhoads would like to implement if he receives Election this Tuesday night. His primary goal is to ease the burden on taxpayers by controlling county spending, reducing the size of government, and using industrial development agencies to bring business into Nassau County so that the economy can be expanded and jobs created.

“I think what gives me an advantage over Denenberg is I am trying to apply common sense solutions to a very real problem for homeowners,” said Rhoads.

“Which is that between taxes, in every level of government, between increased expenses, it is getting very hard for them to be able to stay here in Nassau County. What’s the point of having one of the nicest counties in the world to live in if nobody can afford to stay here.”

The 19th district of Nassau County covers the towns of North Bellmore, Bellmore, Merrick, and parts of Freeport. Joan Brady, 55, has been a resident of the area of Freeport that runs under the 19th district for over 10 years. Her biggest problem with her district is the high taxes.

“God Almighty, the taxes are just so high! The school taxes, the real estate taxes, it just doesn’t stop. When will it be easier for the middle class?” said Brady.

“14 years is just too long of a time, for Denenberg. I think it’s time to get some new blood in the political scene.”

Whether or not Rhoads wins the 19th District Nassau County Legislative Race or not, he will continue to serve Nassau County like he has for over the past twenty years.

“I have a career I am perfectly happy with, I didn’t intend to run this year, “said Rhoads. “But I am because I’m frustrated with what I see and I’m trying to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” concluded Rhoads.

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