Richard DeMartino, a resident of New Hyde Park for nearly 40 years, knows that registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 11,000 to 6,000 in the Town of North Hempstead’s 5th Council District.
But, DeMartino said, he believes he has a message that can appeal to everyone, whether Republican, Democrat or one of the district’s 6,000 independent voters.
“A lot of the people said they wanted change, that a lot of people have been there a long time,” DeMartino said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “That’s what I’m hearing.”
DeMartino, a businessman and banker, is running against Councilwoman Lee Seeman, the 12-year Democratic incumbent, in the 5th District.
District 5 includes North New Hyde Park, Garden City Park, Floral Park and the villages of Saddle Rock, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Russell Gardens, University Gardens, Lake Success, as well as other unincorporated areas.
DeMartino said that taxes are not something the Town Board has great control over, but he wants to do what he can to create a transit-family community for the younger generation.
“I see younger families coming in but they’re not staying like they did. They stay for five years and then they move on,” he said. “They don’t have the roots that we made here in the community.”
DeMartino also said that he has heard concerns regarding the Building Department, such as it taking months to simply get a sign, and about other small things like unfixed sidewalks and curbs.
DeMartino, a business development officer in banking, said that there needs to be more coordinated economic development in the area. He said he would meet with village mayors “and see if we can come to some consensus” to help small businesses.
“When I worked in Great Neck, there wasn’t one empty store and the traffic was tremendous, but the people [would] come in the evening, holiday times — forget about it, you couldn’t get a spot to park anywhere,” DeMartino said. “There wasn’t one empty store.”
DeMartino, drawing upon his decades with the Great Neck, Floral Park and Greater New Hyde Park Chambers of Commerce, said he could also give the business community a stronger voice.
DeMartino, a Vietnam War veteran who served aboard the USS Ticonderoga from 1969 to 1972, also noted the work of the North Hempstead Veterans Committee.
“We want to be sure we get all the services that are available to the veterans out to the community so they know what’s going on,” DeMartino said.
The committee has also been trying to foster the creation of a Veterans Affairs hospital satellite office connected with Long Island Jewish Medical Center, he added.
DeMartino also expressed interest in maintaining the town’s programs geared towards its senior citizens, who make up roughly a quarter of the town’s population.
“We want to make sure those programs continue and we need to be aware of what their needs are,” he said. “They’re an important part of our community.”
In addition to his time on the Chambers of Commerce and Veterans Committee, DeMartino is the second vice president of the Herricks Community Fund, an advisory board member of the Academy of Finance at New Hyde Park Memorial High School and commander of VFW Post 120 in Garden City Park.
He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus, Lakeville Civic Association and Cellini Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America.
Ultimately, DeMartino said one thing is truly driving him to run for the seat.
“I have a love for my community,” DeMartino said, “and really that’s why I want to do this.”
DeMartino lives with his wife, Vivian, in New Hyde Park, where his daughters Denise and Jennifer attended the local schools and later graduated from Molloy College.
Vivian just retired after working in the Great Neck Schools for 32 years, he added.