On Tuesday, Nov. 8, incumbent Angie Cullin will go up against challenger Claudia Borecky for the position of 5th district council member.
The 5th district is comprised of Barnum Island, Bellmore, Lido Beach, Merrick and Point Lookout and parts of Freeport, North Bellmore, North Merrick, Seaford and Wantagh.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Click here to find your polling station.
Candidates appear in alphabetical order.
- Hometown: Merrick
- Occupation: Nassau County Board of Elections
Borecky is president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association. She sits on the board of the Merrick Historical Society and is a member of the Merrick American Legion Auxiliary, as well as the Merrick Kiwanis, Operation SPLASH and the Surfrider Foundation. In 2011, Borecky was the recipient of the Geraldine A. Ferraro Award for Courage and Grace.
Borecky currently works for the Nassau County Board of Elections. Before her work at the board of elections, she was the former Chief of Staff to Legislator Dave Denenberg.
- Hometown: Freeport
- Occupation: Councilmember, 5th District
- Time in Office: 10 years (2001)
Cullin was re-elected to represent the Town of Hempstead's 5th Councilmanic District in November 2007, where she has served since her appointment in January 2001 and subsequent election in November 2003.
Cullin was the first woman to serve as receiver of taxes, having been appointed in April 1993 and subsequently elected to the position. She made history on Nov. 3, 1987 when she became the first woman in the history of the town to be elected to the town board. She served as a councilwoman since her appointment in January 1987 until being appointed Receiver of Taxes in 1993.
Prior to that, Cullin served as administrative assistant to the New York State Assembly for eight years.
Patch Question: Many areas in the Town of Hempstead are plagued by commercial vacancies. Is there a way to help fill these storefronts and is there any way to assist existing small businesses who may be struggling to stay afloat?
Claudia Borecky: The Town of Hempstead’s archaic codes stifle growth in our downtown commercial areas. We see nothing but strip mail after strip mall with a fast food restaurant and gas station in between. It may take as long as three years to build a small professional building in our downtown area, but a strip club is approved without blinking an eye. Hempstead’s own code does not allow for mixed-use development. In villages such as Rockville Centre and Garden City, small apartment buildings are built amidst mom and pop stores. Residents shop in their neighboring stores and develop a sense of pride in their community. Our young professional children have an affordable place to live and start a family. Businesses thrive under those circumstances and you see very few empty storefronts.
Angie Cullin: Actually, Hempstead Town’s commercial areas have weathered an international economic crisis far better than most other places throughout the nation and across Long Island. Anyone who drives through local business districts on Long Island can clearly see that. Our township has helped local downtown business owners to persevere and remain viable. In my district, we have partnered with the business community to revitalize downtowns in Bellmore, Merrick and Seaford. We have created attractive destinations with brick-paved walkways, Victorian street lamps, beautiful benches and plantings, as well as new storefront facades and coordinated signage. What’s more, we’ve added “village green” elements such as gazebos and veterans plazas, inviting residents and visitors to walk downtown areas.
Additionally, our town’s planning department administers a small business revolving loan fund to assist entrepreneurs to set up shop and grow. Further, our “one-stop” career center provides resources such as training and conference facilities for employees and employers.
Patch Question: Many officials throughout the town believe the proposed HUB development will take business away from local downtowns, which are already hurting in this down economy. What will be done to mitigate concerns?
Borecky: First of all, there is no proposed HUB development at this point. The town board killed its opportunity for growth by rezoning the HUB. It is partisan politics at its worst. The Town of Hempstead has no vision. My first act in office would be to embrace our regional planning advisory boards and develop a long and short-term economic development plan. As any businessman knows, if you don’t grow, you will go under. We are losing jobs and revenue because of Hempstead’s lack of vision or willingness to change. We are blessed with some of the greatest minds in the country Hempstead’s Industrial Development Agency is short-sighted – allowing growth only in businesses that give to the Republican Party. That has to change. The Town of Islip’s Industrial Development Agency is providing incentives for bio-medical technologies to prosper in its town. The Town of Hempstead needs to do the same. Our children will have job opportunities available to them so that they will be able to come back home after college. And the new growth in revenue will lessen the amount that the county will need to raise from the homeowner’s property tax.
Smart growth in the HUB area will not take away from our local downtowns, but spread its wealth beyond its epicenter.
Cullin: Those who understand economics know that growth is essential to survival. The addition of new commercial and other development creates synergies with existing businesses, helping them to thrive. What’s more, I don’t know of anyone who has presented visions for the HUB that would be direct competitors for local downtowns. Actually, many of the elements mentioned by developers would enhance and support local merchants. Convention centers, hotels, minor league baseball stadiums, a revitalized Coliseum, technology facilities, offices, educational facilities and housing would all complement businesses in local downtowns and add more residents to patronize area shops.
Finally, even if construction started at the property surrounding the Coliseum today, the construction would take time to complete, mitigating any concerns about the impact of new businesses on the current economy. Obviously, developers don’t build based on the current economic conditions. Rather, they build with a vision for the future.
Patch: What is your position on the Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals approving Billy Dean's cabaret license at 3500 Sunrise Hwy., Wantagh in early 2010 and then a year later deciding to have a re-hearing and revoking his application? What type of business would you like to see operate on that property?
Borecky: As president of the North and Central Merrick Civic Association, I stood in solidarity with our neighbors in Wantagh and Seaford in opposition to the strip club. Thanks to the perseverance of a united community, the town board came out and opposed Billy Dean’s cabaret license. But that was more than a year after a permanent cabaret license was awarded to Billy Dean, who testified at the hearing that he intended to build the same kind of establishment that he had in Bellmore – advertised as Long Island’s Premiere Strip Club. Angie Cullin represents, not only Wantagh, but Bellmore as well. As a civic leader, I know when a 7-11 comes into my community, let alone a strip club. As our most local representative, it is Cullin’s responsibility to know what comes into our community. We write legislation to protect our families from sex offenders and yet, allow an establishment to be built within feet from our children that attracts sex offenders.
Because Cullin was asleep at the wheel, Billy Dean was awarded a permanent cabaret license. Because Cullin was asleep at the wheel, Billy Dean spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a strip club. Because Cullin was asleep at the wheel, it’s now in court. Cullin’s inaction has jeopardized an entire community and put our families at risk. And I’m afraid that because Cullin was asleep at the wheel, we will wake up with a strip club near our young families.
Cullin: Apparently, I strongly opposed the original board of appeals grant with regard to the property at 3500 Sunrise Hwy. in Wantagh. That’s precisely why Kate Murray and I called upon the board of appeals to rehear the case. I personally felt that the original hearing failed to provide for thorough and complete community input. I was pleased that the board listened to my testimony and that of Supervisor Murray and neighbors as they decided to deny the application for a cabaret at the site. The decision was right on the merits and right for Wantagh and Seaford neighbors.
While clearly a residential neighborhood was not the right place for the defeated cabaret, entrepreneurs are the proper people to determine development priorities within the local zoning framework, so long as they don’t adversely impact neighborhoods. Certainly, area residents have indicated support for a restaurant or similar use that could be harmonious with local homes and not overwhelm the area with traffic, noise or other undesirable effects.