It won't be easy for Democrat Glenn Stephenson to upset seven-term incumbent Dennis Dunne Sr. in the 15th Legislative District.
Not only is the Republican candidate a founding member of the Nassau County Legislature, having been elected to his first two-year term in 1995, but the district's voter registration heavily favors him: There are 22,568 enrolled with the GOP to 12,518 Democrats. The district includes Levittown, Seaford, North Wantagh and Wantagh.
But Stephenson, 58, an attorney from Seaford making his second attempt at public office, said he thinks Dunne is vulnerable because of voter frustration over high taxes and what he says is Dunne's poor communication with his constituents.
"I am running," Stephenson said, because "he's done nothing. He's never introduced any legislation and rarely, if ever, holds a town meeting. I want to get the taxes down."
Dunne, 59, a Levittown resident and full-time legislator, says his opponent is misinformed. "I have fought against higher taxes and will continue to do that," he said. He said he wants to repeal the county's 2.5 percent energy tax and higher user fees imposed by the Democratic majority.
He pointed out that he successfully introduced legislation that provides free education for firefighters at Nassau Community College and allows members of the military free use of the pool and other facilities at Eisenhower Park for training.
But he added that much of the legislation he has proposed is bottled up in committee by the Democratic majority, so he concentrates on constituent service.
As to being out of touch, Dunne said, "I've had meetings on the heroin problem, driving safely for high school kids, prostate cancer, neighborhood watch programs." He said he mails out a quarterly newsletter augmented by postcard alerts.
Stephenson, who ran for a district court judgeship a decade ago, has been disabled by two strokes since 2002 but can now walk with a cane. He no longer actively practices law but occasionally takes on cases pro bono. He said he would be a full-time legislator.
"We need to consolidate administration wherever we can," Stephenson said, such as joint purchasing by different agencies and levels of government. "We need to get rid of all the special districts," he said.
Dunne said he wants to overhaul the county's assessment system to fix the problem of reimbursing companies for unnecessarily inflated tax payments.