Nassau Democrat Campaigns Against Speed Cams in Bid for Senate Seat

Adam Haber, a Democrat challenging incumbent Republican State Senator Jack Martins in Nassau County, is out with a new attack ad blasting his opponent for supporting speed cameras.

In April, the Senate voted 49-11 for a bill that expanded New York City’s speed cam program and brought automated speeding enforcement to Long Island for the first time. As in NYC, the law restricts Nassau County’s cameras to streets with school entrances nearby, during specific daytime hours. Drivers can get tickets only if they are going more than 10 mph over the limit.

The Nassau County program got off to a rocky start soon after its August launch, incorrectly issuing tickets near six schools during hours when the cameras should have been shut off. County Executive Ed Mangano later voided all of the county’s speed cam tickets, valid or not, and the program restarted in September near 77 schools [PDF].

State Senate candidate Adam Haber is going for the road rage vote. Image: Haber for NY/Facebook
State Senate candidate Adam Haber is going for the road rage vote. Image: Haber for NY/Facebook

With its latest ad and press release, the Haber campaign is betting that Nassau residents think drivers speeding through school zones shouldn’t get tickets. The campaign has purchased what it calls a “significant” amount of air time for the anti-speed cam advertisement, which will run until election day.

Haber has sent out mailers and lawn signs against the speed cameras. The Senate district, covering Great Neck, Port Washington, Floral Park, Mineola, and Hicksville, borders much of eastern Queens. Clarence Eckerson Jr. of Streetfilms reported seeing the signs on streets just over the city line in Little Neck yesterday.

“Adam Haber supports measures that would actually increase safety in school zones, like speed bumps, warning signs and signs that tell drivers their current speed,” said campaign spokesperson Jacob Tugendrajch. “However, Haber believes that Nassau County’s speed camera program is an effort designed to raise revenue, merely disguised as an effort to keep our children safe. Adam Haber will continue to fight against this backdoor tax and look for real solutions to promote traffic safety near our schools.”

The Martins campaign responded. “He puts our children’s safety in harm’s way for political purposes,” campaign spokesperson Chris Schneider told Newsday. “This was a bi-partisan bill cosponsored by Haber’s fellow Democrats.”

Martins joined the majority of Senate Republicans to vote for speed cameras. Of the eleven votes against the bill, three came from Long Island Republicans. Other than Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn senator who caucuses with the GOP, not a single registered Democrat voted against the bill.

I asked Tugendrajch, who also works for Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chair and speed camera supporter Michael Gianaris, if an automated enforcement program could ever be designed in a way that Haber would support. I haven’t received a reply.

Haber is trailing Martins in the polls, though what had been a 25-point gap has narrowed to 15 points in a recent survey.

StreetsPAC, which has made three endorsements on Long Island so far this election season, was not impressed with Haber’s ad. “While StreetsPAC hasn’t made an endorsement in this race, we have not endorsed any candidate anywhere who opposes the use of speed cameras,” said StreetsPAC treasurer Eric McClure. “The simple fact of the matter is that speed cameras save lives, and there’s an amazingly simple trick for avoiding a ticket from a speed camera: Don’t drive more than ten miles per hour over the speed limit in school zones during school hours.”