Jason Abelove said his top priority will be to lower taxes and bring transparency to the taxpayers if elected Town of Hempstead supervisor in November.
Abelove, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Donald Clavin, who was elected in 2019 after defeating Laura Gillen, also a Democrat, following two decades as the town’s receiver of taxes.
In an interview with Blank Slate Media, Abelove, a discrimination lawyer, said he will focus on taxes and more efficient spending. He said the wasteful use of funds has plagued town operations.
“I have been fighting in the court system for equality and fairness my entire life,” Abelove said. “If you have people that are there to get in, serve and get out, that’s how your community is best served.”
Much of Abelove’s priorities stem from what he called the town’s misuse of federal funds given for COVID-19 relief. Hempstead was the only town in the nation to receive CARES Act funding, up to $133 million, and spent much of it on payroll, among other things.
“You can’t use it for your bottom line,” Abelove said. “Our town took that money and gave out raises to political insiders, patronage jobs and no bid contracts.”
The 51-year-old Garden City resident said he wants to use any federal funding to help small businesses and downtown areas in the town.
Another issue Abelove sees, and is the question he tries to answer when knocking on doors, is “why are my taxes so high?” Abelove said he believes it is due to inflated salaries.
If elected, Abelove, who has lived in Hempstead since he was 12, said he will go to department heads and ask for resumes to confirm that whoever is in charge is the right person for the job.
“We have to get rid of the bloat at the top, and then we can provide those services,” Abelove said. “We just have to have the political will and not think of party first, but people first.”
In regard to COVID-19, Abelove said he would be in favor of mandating vaccinations for town employees. He made a connection between children getting vaccinated for a “myriad of reasons” to go to school and employee vaccine mandates.
A first-time candidate, Abelove said he has the energy and dedication to transparency that make him right for a role that has usually been held by Republicans. He said the town has gone downhill under Clavin and he will seek to bring back practices from Gillen’s term.
He said he would set up a grading system for roads in need of repair, put town contracts online and will disclose if the owners of companies that receive contracts have made political donations.
“My grandfather always told me ‘light is the best disinfectant’ so what can I do,” the candidate said. “I can make it public so taxpayers see who’s getting bids and were they the best fit? We are the largest town in America and we should be run like the largest town in America.”
Abelove also revealed that based on his last public filings, which totaled around $140,000, his campaign has raised the most money for a first-time political challenger at the town level.
“We’re all people that are boots on the ground, community activists and have the public first,” Abelove said. “We’re going to bring a whole new energy and way of doing business to the town government.”
On Nov. 2, when residents go to the voting booths, Abelove said, he wants them to know he believes he is the candidate who will bring his personal experiences into town government and work toward a better Hempstead.
“I have been fighting in the court system for equality and fairness my entire life and I’m excited to bring that energy,” Abelove said. “I believe once I’m elected, we’re going to make a lot of improvements in the town and it’s going to be very exciting to work hard with the community and bring those changes.”