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Oct 25, 2011 1:06 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Jay Schneiderman Seeks Fifth Term Of Office

Oct 25, 2011 4:24 PM

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman is something of a renaissance man.

The Independence Party member, a former Republican who has been cross-endorsed by the Democratic and Working Family parties, has spent the past seven-plus years representing those living on the South Fork and, prior to that, served as supervisor of East Hampton Town.

But Mr. Schneiderman, a Montauk resident who is being challenged next month by Republican candidate Cornelius Kelly of East Quogue, also has an artistic side: He writes music, plays the drums and recently self-published his first children’s book, “The Stone Cutter,” which he also illustrated.

“The moral [of the story] is about really discovering your own power, knowing yourself and not trying to be someone you aren’t,” Mr. Schneiderman said this week. “It’s about loving who you are and celebrating your true gifts. True power lies within.”

A familiar face at Scouting and other community events, Mr. Schneiderman believes in hands-on interaction with his constituents. “We live in a representative society—we are placing our faith in an individual to make choices for us. That’s a big task,” he said. “You can send out all the mailers you want, but people take one look at you and trust their intuition. People vote on their feelings, and with their hearts.”

The father of two children—Magda, 12, and Ruben, 8—Mr. Schneiderman said he is seeking a fifth two-year term in office because he still has unfinished business to tend to, starting with addressing the Suffolk County’s looming deficit, which, this week, he estimated to be around $150 million. “I have a record of service in the district,” he said. “I have kept property taxes from going up my entire time in office. I have more that I want to accomplish.”

During a series of debates with his opponent, Cornelius Kelly, over the past month, Mr. Schneiderman has addressed a number of contentious issues, starting with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s decision to place both of the county’s homeless sex offender trailers in Southampton Town, and in Mr. Schneiderman’s legislative district—one in Riverside, the other in Westhampton. Mr. Schneiderman said he has tried, so far in vain, to have the facilities shuttered and the burden of housing the homeless offenders shared by other county residents, but current Mr. Levy has repeatedly stymied those efforts. “He continues to throw up roadblocks,” Mr. Schneiderman said of Mr. Levy, who will be leaving office on December 31. “This is not a problem I created. I have fought so hard to get rid of them.”

He added that he will continue to apply legislative pressure to make sure that the county moves forward with plans to replace the two trailers with permanent shelters that, officials have said, will be placed throughout Suffolk County and not just on the East End. Mr. Schneiderman did not rule out taking legal action if other county officials continue to drag their feet on the issue.

Still, the biggest issue facing the county is the deficit crisis and finding ways to eat away at the estimated $150 million shortfall.

“As far as the budget goes, there are no easy choices,” said Mr. Schneiderman, noting that he is collaborating with a budget working group of legislators. “We are trying to piece together the county budget. Unfortunately, what we have been handed by County Executive Steve Levy is a joke.”

Members of his working group are considering massive spending cuts, including significant layoffs and the elimination of grants to contract agencies, as well as a reduction in salaries for all non-union employees. Service reductions and eliminations of redundancies are also being considered, according to Mr. Schneiderman.

He blamed the county’s fiscal woes on the loss of an estimated $100 million in sales tax revenues, due largely to the economic decline, and unfunded state mandates. While discretionary spending has been significantly reduced already, the overall budget has grown at less the rate of inflation, or about 1 percent a year, he said.

“We do not have a spending problem, but we do have a revenue problem,” he said. “Once we have cut to the point where we can’t any further—you reach a point where you have to deliver certain services—we will have to look for new revenue sources.

“We want to make sure that whatever new revenue source we look at does not disproportionately hurt the poor,” he continued. “I’d rather not raise sales tax, but I think, realistically, we may have little choice. If we’re going to do it, I want to do it in a way that does not hurt the poor—perhaps gearing sales tax toward luxury items. Also, by creating incentives for people to shop locally, such as sales tax-free days, so that the money stays in our local economy and is not spent on the internet.”

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another powder puff peice for jay by the press! after all is is " the DARLING OF THE PRESS !!!" he boasts of 20 years of public service and yet has done little to solve our East end issues. Now we learn we are 150 MILLION in shortfalls and he says we don't have a spending problem! more promises and new studies, but no results. IT's TIME FOR A CHANGE . VOTE KELLY
By ernest wruck (10), eastport on Oct 25, 11 3:09 PM
Kinda like the puff piece for Angie Carpenter don't you think?
By NTiger (543), Southampton on Oct 25, 11 7:44 PM
bellone, carpenter, schneiderman, i geuss they just forgot CORNELIUS KELLY or maybe his peice goes in after the election!
By ernest wruck (10), eastport on Oct 26, 11 11:30 AM
Of course not Ernie, Cornelius's profile is here: http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/Westhampton-Beach-Surrounding-Areas/402801
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (117), Westhampton Beach on Oct 26, 11 12:16 PM
I stand corrected.
By ernest wruck (10), eastport on Oct 26, 11 1:28 PM