Adam Haber is a man of many hats, in both the private and public sectors. He’s a former businessman, restaurant owner and venture capitalist. The East Hills Democrat has spent the last eight years on the Roslyn school board, and less than a year as a member of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
But despite previous runs for county executive and State Senate, he hasn’t yet reached elected office.
This should be his year.
Haber is running against Flower Hill Mayor Elaine Phillips for the State Senate seat vacated by Jack Martins, who is running for Congress.
Haber talks of the need for infrastructure improvements — and specifies places including Hempstead Turnpike and the Bay Park sewage plant. He understands how such efforts could boost Long Island’s construction industry, a critical component of the region’s economy. And he excitedly ticks off other ideas to improve the local economy by emphasizing tourism and expediting building permits for construction.
Haber prioritizes reform of “broken” industrial development agencies that squander tax breaks without being required to make sure that jobs are created and businesses stay. He’s keeping an open mind about adding a third train track between Floral Park and Hicksville, praising its potential economic importance, but he worries about its possible impact on local residents.
Haber speaks with passion and depth from his school board experience about trying to hold down taxes and fight for resources for less wealthy districts. Even though we differ with Haber on the role of standardized testing in schools, we think his clear knowledge and grasp of local district issues would be a plus.
His opponent brings a valuable understanding of village government and the needs of an individual municipality. Phillips, who worked on Wall Street as a financial analyst and business executive for more than two decades, says she would cut corporate tax rates and business regulation.
The Republican says she wants economic and infrastructure development but in an interview wasn’t able to point to specific efforts she’d endorse. On the one project she did discuss — the third track — Phillips is vehemently opposed. But she bases that opposition on assumptions, or what she “was told,” rather than evidence or plans. Indeed, although she recognizes that the project’s environmental impact studies, plans for parking and construction, and schedules aren’t yet complete, Phillips says she remains opposed to the project. That instinct to take the politically safest approach, rather than lead on the issue so that compromises can be found, concerns us.
Phillips, 56, is a strong elected official and an important local voice, but has a limited knowledge of key state issues and a lack of understanding of the region’s broader needs. She isn’t ready for the Albany stage.
She thinks a ban on outside income for state legislators is unnecessary as long as the rules are clear and lawmakers are open about the work they do. Haber has a better, but still not ideal position; he would establish a bipartisan committee to consider outside income bans on a by-occupation basis.
If elected, Haber, 51, would bring solid expertise to critical issues like education and finance, including economic development and IDA reform. Haber’s promise to be independent is particularly important on education, where we hope he’ll be willing to break from the public union rhetoric and make decisions rooted in his experience in business.
Newsday endorses Haber.