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“I will be the taxpayers’ watchdog in Nassau County”

By Parveen Chopra

Former New York State Senator Elaine Phillips is confident that she will be elected Nassau County Comptroller this November. Speaking to The South Asian Times, she said, “I have experience in both the public and private sector and the skills to be the taxpayers’ watchdog. To be the independent voice, to make sure that the taxpayers are told the truth of what is happening with the County government.”

Phillips is running on Republican, Conservative and Tax Revolt Party lines. Her opponent, Democrat Ryan Cronin is a corporate attorney who twice ran unsuccessfully for State Senate.

Elaine Phillips’ background in the financial sector stands out. An MBA in finance from Penn State, she worked for JP Morgan and in Goldman Sachs for a long time.  In 2010 she started a new phase, to give back to the community. “I got involved as a trustee in my village, Munsey. I served in many volunteer roles. I became Mayor in Flower Hill. I went on to get elected to the New York Senate, representing the northwest quadrant of Nassau County,” she says.

The Comptroller’s role, Phillips argues, is critical, because “we watch over our community’s taxes. To make sure that our tax dollars are used effectively, efficiently and transparently.” She cites the anomalous reassessment in the County.  “We were told that for 50% of people taxes will go up and for 50% they will go down. Instead, we found that for two-thirds of homeowners their assessment went up. This is where the Comptroller should step in and order an audit. Why did that happen? What changed and why were we not informed of the change? Then again, the legislature was told in last December that the County was going to have a deficit. And now we have a surplus!”

As Comptroller, she says her job will be to make sure that the county administration and the legislature do their job. To go in and do the analysis. And report to the people.

Phillips is critical of the Democratic Party which has not asked the sitting county Comptroller Jack Schnirman to step down even after District Attorney Madeline Singas, from his own Democratic party, issued public reports faulting him for accepting  payouts illegally when he worked as Long Beach city manager. He is not seeking re-election.

“I am proud to be a Republican,” Phillips says, “because I can go to bed every night knowing that I have always given my best to my community, in the most ethical standards that I can live by. People are concerned how far Democrats’ reforms have gone about the call to defund the police. They are concerned how an administration is raising taxes when that is the last thing we should be doing.”

Yet, she claims she is not a gotcha kind of person. “We need bipartisan effort, and I said it in the Senate, we need both parties, we need checks and balances. And that is exactly why I should be elected Comptroller. To bring the independent voice. County Executive Laura Curran has been at my house for dinner.  We know each other, we will work together. County legislative majority leader Rick Nicolello too has been to my house. We will work together to make sure that taxpayers of Nassau County get what they deserve,” she says.

Elaine Phillips has come to know the South Asian community in the past couple of years. “They have prospered here on Long Island, thanks to the economic support, the living environment, the school districts. All people want to live here.  We got to protect that. Here on Long Island, we can feel secure, financially and because of law enforcement support. Home ownerships is also important and keeping taxes as low as we can.”

Hicksville, she points out in particular, is a community which is vibrant with small and mid-sized businesses. “And we need to keep it that way. Incidentally, part of Hicksville was in my state Senate district.”

A month ago, she attended a press conference in Hicksville that talked about the need for America and Americans to support India and other South Asian countries devastated by Covid. Earlier this month,  she attended another press conference on the steps of the Nassau County legislative building in Mineola, to honor the young spiritual teacher Ishan Shivanand who donated PPE for India.

Phillips credits her widening knowledge of the South Asian community to her association with Ragini Srivastava, who is running on the Republican ticket for North Hempstead Town Clerk: “She is an inspiring woman who has worked hard with many community leaders for Covid relief efforts in India. She is the one who takes me to the community events.”

As County Comptroller, how can I help the South Asian community, Phillips asks rhetorically? “The same answer: to ensure that their tax dollars are used the way they should be. To have community groups, particularly businesses that come in like in Hicksville and in New Hyde Park where we can have forums to talk about how we can keep economic development going, how do we keep our religious communities vibrant. How do we keep our communities and our children to be able to afford to live near us? I did that as a Mayor, I believe I did that as a Senator. I want to continue to represent the people of Nassau County. And I do want my children and grandchildren to live here near me!”

Incidentally, two of Phillips’ three daughters have lived and done some volunteer work in India. And she recalls, “I have travelled with my family to India three years ago. I found it a vast country with so many different cultures just like the United States.”

Phillips’ final pitch to be elected Comptroller: “I got into public service, and I seek voters’ support to get back into public service because I care about our communities, and I want to ensure that  Nassau remains a safe and vibrant County.”

Contact: Elaine Phillips for Comptroller on Facebook.

In an exclusive interview with The South Asian Times, Elaine Phillips, running for Nassau County Comptroller, asserts that she has the requisite experience and skills for the job. (Photos provided)
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