On Tuesday, Nov. 8, Republican incumbent Kate Murray will go up against Democratic challenger Gary Port for the position of Hempstead Town Supervisor. 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: Levittown
- Occupation: Town Supervisor
- Time in Office: Eight years (2003)
Prior to serving as Hempstead Town Supervisor, Murray was the first attorney to be elected Hempstead Town Clerk. Elected in 2001, she established a full service passport facility that has grown to be the nation's largest passport processing center. On Feb. 3, 1998, Murray became the first woman elected to the New York State Assembly from the 19th District.
Before serving as an elected official, Murray worked as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Justice Section handling prisoner litigation. Prior to her work with the Attorney General, Murray served as advocate for Suffolk University Battered Women's Advocacy Project.
- Hometown: West Hempstead
- Occupation: Attorney
Port graduated cum laude from New York University in 1983 after only three years with a double major in psychology and history. After obtaining his Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School, Port decided against a Wall Street type job and joined the United States Army. After serving for a number of years as an Army captain, he joined the Kings County District Attorney’s office where he investigated and prosecuted serious felonies.
After he left active duty, Port continued his military service in the Army Reserves, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and is currently assigned to the 78th Training Division, where he serves as the legal advisor and Ethic Counselor to the commanding general.
In 2002, Port started his own law firm and thereafter formed Port & Sava, a small, local law firm, with a member of his military reserve unit. Port’s practice focuses on commercial litigation, matrimonial law, entertainment law and the protection of the rights of military veterans and their spouses.
Patch asked candidates the following questions. Their answers appear below:
Patch Question: According to data, there has been a significant increase in the discrepancy between the animal shelter's budget and that of all other town departments throughout the past eight years. Why has the animal shelter been a target of criticism and what can be done to correct this?
Kate Murray: Actually, there has been no discrepancy between the animal shelter’s budget and that of other departments. The animal shelter’s budget is a matter of public record. It is a component part of Hempstead’s overall budget, which can be viewed online.
With regard to why the animal shelter has been the target of criticism, you would have to ask the critics about their motivation. Indeed, the most vocal critics are comprised of two persons who have been prohibited from entering the shelter and a couple of activists for the opposing political party. Nonetheless, I have listened to critics and have taken the concerns of all parties seriously.
Gary Port: Supervisor Murray has increased the shelter budget by more than 100 percent. According to recent news articles:
"Nine Hempstead Animal Shelter employees – one third of the full-time staff – were paid more than $100,000 in 2010. Eight of them have GOP ties. Of those, six were elected to Nassau GOP committee seats in 2009, the last year elections were held. Three hold or have held leadership posts at GOP clubs. All but one has donated repeatedly to the local party, to Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, or to both, records show."
The shelter is being run as an employment agency of the Republican Party. As long as the shelter is a dumping ground for Republican Party flacks, it will continue to badly run and a drain on the town taxpayers.
Patch Question: The town board voted to reinstate the SENWA board. Do you agree with this decision? If so, what is the ultimate goal you hope they achieve with their studies?
Murray: Despite the fact that previous studies have expressed doubts about prospective savings that might be achieved under a public takeover, I believed the issue deserved a fresh look for the sake of residents currently served by Aqua New York, Inc.
The charge of the Southeastern Nassau Water Authority is to ascertain if a public takeover of the private water company, which serves residents along our south shore, would be in the best interests of ratepayers. Clearly, the overriding consideration in the Water Authority’s work is the determination of whether ratepayer savings can be achieved through a takeover. Another key feature of the reactivated authority is the fact that it is empowered to effectuate a takeover should its findings indicate such an undertaking is warranted.
Port: The Aqua water issue needs to be resolved. Whether the South Eastern Nassau Water Authority (SENWA) should be reinstated or some other solution is found, the simply fact is that a private water company is overpricing and draining residents out of money. These residents already pay high taxes. The ultimate goal here must be to help these ratepayers. We can do this, but we must be proactive in looking for the right solutions. High water rates were also an issue in 2009 when Supervisor Murray was then seeking re-election.
Patch Question: HUB plans have either lost steam or been rejected by voters. What would you ideally like to see at the Coliseum location?
Murray: It is true, Nassau voters rejected the county’s proposal to issue bonds for the renovation of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Hempstead Town, at the same time, has undertaken unprecedented steps to jumpstart a stalled development process. After the Lighthouse Group withdrew from the state-mandated review process of its proposal, our town proposed and adopted a new building development zone that clears the way for meaningful and substantial development. It also clears the way for a new or refurbished Coliseum. The building zone is flexible, allowing for business, retail, residential, educational, technology, hotel, convention and other types of development. Our progressive building zone allows for 5.5 million square feet of construction, a density level that far exceeds the iconic RXR towers.
Port: The HUB has been a political football, or in this case a hockey puck, and we need to end the political horse-trading. The property is 77 acres of an empty canvas and we are only limited by imagination and lack of leadership. During this campaign I have shared my ideas about possibly turning the area into a Bio-Medical hub. In addition, we must prioritize preserving/improving the quality of life, work to keep the Islanders on Long Island and create real, long-term sustainable jobs for residents at all levels of employment. To do this all, we must have a group effort. When elected, I will bring players to the table from government, workforce, business leaders and community organizations so that every idea is heard, so that we have a shovel ready project.
Patch Question: The unemployment rate in the Town of Hempstead has hovered around 7 percent. How can the town help reduce this number and get residents back in the job force?
Murray: Hempstead Town is a very mature community, more densely populated than any other township on Long Island. In fact, our township’s population is greater than four states, as well as the cities of Miami, Denver and Boston. As such, our area has confronted the same bruising effects of a national economic crisis as other major population centers. To be sure, Hempstead Town is taking major steps to jumpstart the economy, create jobs and support both the workers and employers.
HempsteadWorks, the town’s one-stop career resource center, is providing valuable services during this difficult time. Resume writing, career counseling, career transitioning, interview skills assessment, computer, copier and fax services, as well as job listings, meeting rooms for employers and workers are all available to residents. Training in areas such as computer literacy are also available. The center has placed over 7,000 workers in jobs during a one-year period.
At the same time, Hempstead Town’s Planning Department has a low-interest loan fund which provides funds for small business start-up and expansion.
Our government has embarked upon a “job-boosting” $50 million capital upgrade plan for this year. Real construction, engineering and other jobs will be created as a result of the capital projects we will undertake. Road repaving, marine bulkhead refurbishment, computer engineering and the construction of a recreation center for children with special needs are among the capital projects.
Along with town board colleagues, I’ve been aggressive in attracting major private-sector construction/development projects in our town. These projects are creating construction, marketing, engineering, architectural, management services and other jobs, not to mention the ancillary jobs that will be created to serve the workers who are directly involved in development projects. Local delis, construction material suppliers and more will benefit from our new construction initiatives. A 315,000 square foot project in Garden City will offer 600 permanent jobs when completed. Other major projects in East Garden City, Westbury, North Valley Stream and West Hempstead are helping to reduce unemployment and stimulate the local economy.
Port: The actual unemployment figure is much higher, at least 14.9 percent, when people who have stopped looking for work, and those trapped in part time work are factored in (The Dept of Law calls this the U6). We need to remarket and redefine the town. We must rewrite the zoning and building codes from ground up. We need to work with the special districts, schools districts and county to restructure the tax burden. We need more than one-time tax breaks. We need to encourage long-term investment in the community and that involves the overall lowing of taxes. We must put forth a unified vision of the town's economic future and then work with our communities to bring that vision into reality. I have put forth a "JOBS NOW!" plan which is outlined on my website and on my YouTube page. We have the solution to get people back to work and I am asking voters to elect me so that I can go to work for them.