Democratic candidate Emily Beys said last Thursday that her opponent in the race for North Hempstead’s 6th district council seat, Republican Dina De Giorgio, had interests in her district other than to serve her community because of her involvement with a family-owned business.
“What I’ve heard people say is that there is a little bit of a conflict in that her family owns a significant business in Port Washington,” Beys said. “I believe that in order for you to actually serve your community, you should not have any other interests in the community other than to serve. That’s where we differentiate.”
Beys went on to claim that De Giorgio had acted to include Cow Bay Contracting, a business operated by her husband on Harbor Road — in a storefront improvement project on Main Street.
De Giorgio, who operates a law practice in Port Washington, called the claims “potential slander” and a “blatant lie.”
“This issue continues to come up and there has never been one shred of proof that there has ever been a conflict or ever been anything appropriate. If there was any proof, it would have already come out,” she said. “It’s just a way to smear me and to suggest to people that my interests in being councilwoman are not in what’s best for my community.”
De Giorgio, who is seeking re-election for her second term as councilwoman, said it was a positive thing that she owns a small business in the district.
“I am a small-business owner. I have the small-business owner perspective and so does my husband,” she said. “We understand what it is to own and operate a small business in North Hempstead. The challenges of property taxes, paying property taxes. I know about how much different regulations and requirements effect your bottom line. I see that as a positive.”
In an interview with Blank Slate Media, Beys, a former vice president of Sales for Interep Radio Sales Inc, said residents told her they were concerned about De Giorgio’s alleged interests after the Model Blocks project, a revitalizing plan aimed to improve Port Washington’s Main Street businesses and streetscaping, began in 2011.
Beys said De Giorgio had ownership of a property on Main Street that was not supposed to be part of the project but “somehow got included.”
“That created a lot of anger in Port Washington. And a lot of questions,” she said. “What I’ve heard is a lot of people were angry and saying either you’re representing our interests or you’re not.”
De Giorgio said her family had no business interest on Main Street.
“They’re not on Main Street. They’re nowhere near Main Street. We don’t own any property on Main Street” she said of both her practice and Cow Bay. “Whatever I am doing for streetscaping has zero effect.”
Both De Giorgio and Beys said they want to improve business in the district by filling empty storefronts with thriving businesses.
Beys said she wanted to meet with various landlords and real estate brokers for vacant stores to figure out what is preventing businesses from opening.
“I’d like to get landlords in a room, with the real estate brokers that are actually showing the store, and some of the store owners that currently have businesses. And I’d like to have a real discussion and see what are the problems,” she said. “What are you seeing? What are the requests? Why are people walking away? Lets all get in a room and sit down and brainstorm.”
De Giorgio said she would help new business owners through the town building department’s expedited review process for new businesses.
“It helps because time is money and the longer it takes you to get your building permits and get your store opened, the more soft costs you have,” she said.
De Giorgio also said she wanted to continue working with the surrounding village’s mayors as she has during her first term, which led to her involvement in three separate projects.
The repair of Plandome Pond Park, the repair of a culvert at Leeds Pond, and opening a drain to prevent flooding on Plandome Road were all made possible through work with mayors from the different villages, De Giorgio said.
Beys said if she wins the election, she would make sure to be available not just to her constituents, but to residents who are unsure if certain areas are village or town property.
“It may not be my problem because it may not be a town problem. But I don’t want to say to anyone, ‘well its not my job,’” she said. “What I want to be able to say to people is ‘it’s not a town issue but let me call the legislator for you or let me call the state person for you.’ Let me try to see what the resolution is.”
While she said she did not see the preliminary town budget, Beys said she attended every town meeting since May and both town budget hearings.
She added the current town board has been doing a good job of staying under the .73 percent tax cap.
De Giorgio said she identified areas of the budget where the town could save money including a 10 percent decrease in the town’s current $3.4 million spent on outside consultants, as well as quarterly mailers sent out to residents.
“Some of the mailers that we do, for example Project Independence mailers and the Pioneer Newsletter, are very well received and provide a lot of information. That should continue,” she said. “We do other townwide mailers that we need to think about eliminating. We have a great new website, we have an e-newsletter. I think we should go paperless as much as possible. We send several hundred thousand dollars on those things.”
De Giorgio, who ran against Judi Bosworth for North Hempstead Town Supervisor in 2013, also raised concerns about Beys’ ability to be a councilwoman since she never voted in local elections.
“How can you say that you’re engaged in local issues when you’ve never voted in a town race,” she said. “How engaged can you be? How can you run for an office that you’ve never even cast a vote for. I mean, she never voted for Judi Bosworth when I ran against her in 2013.”
Beys, who had been involved with Port Washington schools for more than 14 years holding positions such as Home School Association president for Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School and Paul D. Schreiber High School, said she did not vote in local elections because of a lack of understanding of the positions.
“I did not vote in local elections. I spent 14-15 years truly focused on the schools. I was very active in the school elections. But I did not fully grasp what it means to be on the next level,” she said. “I take responsibility for not having voted, but that to me seems like an opportunity because if you can take someone like me, who hasn’t voted, and turn them into a believer in local government, that would actually be one of my goals.”
Beys also said that residents should vote for her because she would be an efficient partner to the council.
“I believe that I will be the efficient partner and true partner to Supervisor Bosworth and the entire town board,” she said. “I have the ability to listen and advocate proactively for the entire community. I have no interests other than to serve.”
De Giorgio said her record as councilwoman is the reason she should be voted to represent the 6th district.
“I have a proven track record. I made certain commitments when I was running and I fulfilled those commitments,” she said.“I am involved in the community in ways my opponent frankly is not. I’ve delivered on my promises. I don’t think there’s any reason to replace me.”