Manhasset resident and stay-at-home father David Chiang is looking to “shake things up” if he is elected to the North Hempstead Town Board in November, he said during a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media.
“I think we need some change on the town council,” he said. “We need somebody with a fresh perspective and a different background.”
Chiang, a Republican, is running against Democratic incumbent Veronica Lurvey for the District 4 seat. The district incorporates the villages of Kings Point, Great Neck, Great Neck Gardens, Kensington, Thomaston, Manhasset, North Hills, Roslyn and Roslyn Estates.
Chiang has spent the past five years becoming more integrated within the town’s community, contributing as a vocal member of the Chinese-American Association of North Hempstead.
“The association started out as a bridge between the Chinese parents and the school administration,” he said. “We also just had a co-event and do good work with the Great Neck Chinese Association.”
He believes that his ethnic background is something that is much needed for the town council. Asian-Americans made up over 18% of the town’s population as of 2018, according to the U.S. Census.
“The only real focus right now for the Asian community, from what I’ve seen and heard, is education,” he said. “I want to be that person to provide those residents with a different perspective and help them understand the other issues the town faces.”
Chiang says that the transition from education advocate to Town Board hopeful is a “natural next step.”
One of the aspects of the town that Chiang looks to immediately address is the “inefficiency” of the Building Department.
“I think we need to put people in there that are more efficient,” he said. “I feel like a lot of these jobs are given to people who know people. I would definitely re-evaluate these people and make sure they are professionals who are running this department efficiently.”
Chiang mentioned hearing complaints from residents that it could take over six months to obtain a residential permit and over a year to obtain one for commercial purposes.
He mentioned that making the department’s permit application process more streamlined, user-friendly, and technologically up-to-par would be a potential solution.
“We have so many vacancies on just Plandome and Middle Neck Road,” Chiang said. “You have to be partners with the businesses, and ask what we can do to speed up this process?”
When asked about the development and revitalization of Middle Neck Road, Chiang suggested that it must be run “like a mall” by putting an attraction in the center of business districts. However, he mentioned later that it does not matter what is put up in Great Neck, as it will no longer attract outside visitors like it used to.
“I think that’s past and done with,” he said. “People from Bayside or other areas like that won’t come to Great Neck no matter what you put up. I think we can revitalize this downtown with just our local residents.”
Chiang stressed that projects such as the proposed Macy’s development in Manhasset would “overwhelm” the local traffic patterns on streets like Northern Boulevard. The proposed development would transform the store’s 16-acre parking lot into a multiuse development with 355 luxury residential apartments.
“I think that the current proposal of bringing in a lot of families with kids is unattainable,” he said. “I think about maybe putting in studio apartments to attract the younger crowd. I feel like we all moved out here for a certain way of life. When we change that, we lose why we came here in the first place.”
As a member of the Manhasset Association of Chinese Americans, Chiang was active in pushing for legislation to ban the recreational sale of marijuana in the town in January.
“Aside from it sending a wrong message to the kids,” he explained, “I also felt that from an economical standpoint, it would be able to be purchased over the internet. That would kill any potential local shops from opening up, hurting local businesses more.”
He said he had “no issue” with medical marijuana stores coming to the town.
If elected to the board, Chiang said he will take strides to make the town more vibrant and to work with all levels of government to work on ideas to make that happen.