I recently caught up with Leah Rosensweig-Tozer, who is running for Long Beach City Council this upcoming election. Leah, who is a local real estate broker, told me about her platform, why she’s running, as well issues that she feels are currently being ignored.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a mom of 2, a business owner, and very involved in the local business community. I am the founder and current president of the Long Beach chapter of BNI (business networking international); executive board member of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce; the founder and co-chair of the sustainable committee (aka the green chamber); member of the CAC committee, graduate of LULA (land use alliance training program given by Pace law school and Touro Law school) for the City of Long Beach; city liaison to the Long Beach school district; and member of the city liaison committee (working to advocate for Long Beach Businesses). I am also a former PTA president, and enjoy my work as a real estate broker for Engel & Völkers on West Park Avenue.
Why are you running for City Council?
I have built a life here. I have two children, and desire to stay here and have my children stay here, and have all the opportunities I had, and to enjoy the Long Beach that we all love. Plus, I want to bring a positive change to Long Beach. I can’t just sit around and complain. I want to make a difference.
What would you say are the most important challenges that our city must address that are presently being ignored?
We have many important priorities for our barrier island including protecting our environment, fixing our infrastructure, quality of life issues including dealing with the lack of adequate parking that plagues the West End, The Walks, the business district, etc. We need an open and transparent government. We need an open vetting process for all ZBA appointees so the public can hear from those interested in being on the board. We need to stop overdevelopment by getting the comprehensive plan adopted to ensure a structured and secure method of dealing with zoning and development issues.
Can you elaborate on our current state of zoning?
It’s so unfortunate that the ZBA has to work with building codes from 1982. We certainly need a planning board in place before anyone is allowed to go before the board for a variance, so that there is another level of protection, a group that’s looking at the bigger picture. We should have the comprehensive building code updated so the residents have control over the type of developments that can be built and also how they can be built. We must create a sustainable and resilient future for our beautiful city, our children and future generations.
Sustainability and resiliency sounds a plan:
I want to push Long Beach into becoming a renewable energy city so we can be at the forefront in protecting our island. One example of that is by adding a renewable energy component on new construction, not necessarily LEED certified, but in common areas, and with gray water systems, which also lowers the impact on our infrastructure. Another example would be creating electric car charging stations.
Going back to zoning, it sounds like you’re saying a comprehensive plan is important:
One issue that is extremely important is the ability for our city to go for state and federal grants to fix our infrastructure. Areas such as Hicksville, and last year Westbury, were just rewarded $10 million dollars for the revitalization of their downtowns. This money should have come to Long Beach. Because our current City Council tabled it in March, we lost it for another year. We need a living, breathing plan, that is flexible and that can be changed with the times. Currently, Long Beach has none. Our comprehensive plan was put on hold and no one from the CAC Committee was contacted as to why this happened. We have old zoning which is why we aren’t getting any of these particular grants. Long Beach has had more than double the amount of outreach meetings than other municipality in New York State. If we aren’t willing to plan for our city’s future, why should the state provide any funding? My team will change this immediately and make sure Long Beach comes first.
What are the specific criteria that you will apply in the search for our next City Manager?
We will have an application process that is public and open for anyone who fits the criteria. It should not be based on who you know. It must be based on merit. That’s how I hire people. We must take ownership of Long Beach and who we hire, not just the politically connected.
To elaborate on the hiring process, how will you deal with transparency?
We must follow the NY State Ethics disclosure, not just the Long Beach Ethics disclosure. When the board is close to choosing an applicant, a public meeting should be scheduled for residents to ask questions and meet the candidates. Transparency is completely gone — we need to get that back. Most importantly we will make sure that all residents can easily reach us with any issues.
Taxes are always an issue.
My running mates and I believe that holding the line on taxes is so important…all of our taxes have gone up 12% in the last 6 years. We must think outside the box to create revenue streams for the city without changing the charm of our neighborhood.
As a parent myself, I am always concerned over safety around town, especially with cycling.
It’s vital to get more people to get out of their cars and bike around town. We want to protect our children, bicyclists and pedestrians on all of our streets and boardwalk.
If elected, would you serve your full term?
Politicians, in general, are worried about their next political job. I have no further political aspirations, nor any agenda. This point is extremely important because we have people running who will be leaving within a year to follow their own political futures and careers. This means that a political boss will be able to appoint his own people in these open spots. I’m very passionate about many different things which is why my running mates and I are putting ourselves out there to do the right thing for all of our futures here in the best place to live!!
Any other comments:
I am doing this because my life is here. My children are here and my job is here. I want to make Long Beach a better place.
Besides the Republican ticket, you can find Leah on the Independence, Reform Party, Conservative party lines. For more information on Leah Rosensweig-Tozer as well as her running mates, please visit: www.lbgop.com or facebook facebook.com/longbeachgop.