Both Judi Bosworth and Stephen Nasta, candidates for North Hempstead town supervisor, argue that they bring the right kind of record for the role.
Nasta, a registered Conservative running on Republican, Conservative and Reform lines, said his experience in the New York Police Department shows he can be the leader North Hempstead needs.
He said he commanded two active and diverse precincts, served as the chief of the Investigators Bureau in the office of the Bronx district attorney and managed investigations into political and government corruption cases, as well as opioid drug gangs and other crimes.
“It’s time for change,” Nasta, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College for Criminal Justice, said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “It’s good to have someone come from the outside with a different view of government.”
Bosworth took office as town supervisor in 2014, following six years in the county Legislature and 16 years as a trustee on the Great Neck Board of Education.
She said that the town, under her leadership, has greatly improved. She pointed to its Aaa bond rating, the highest a municipality can get, and its fiscal stress score, the second lowest on Long Island, as well as the programs the town continues to offer.
“Your best campaign is doing a good job,” Bosworth said in an interview with Blank Slate Media.
Nasta said that one of the issues the town currently faces involves the Building Department. Based on people he’s spoken to, Nasta said, the department has been slow to respond and then strict with regulations.
“I’m all in favor of the Building Department – we need regulations, we need rules and we need safety,” Nasta said. “But from what I’ve been hearing, people haven’t been treated the way they should be treated.”
Nasta said his solution would be to bring people knowledgeable about the business of building, inspectors, residents and council members together to come up with solutions.
Bosworth debated Nasta’s characterization of the Building Department. She said the department has transformed from adversary to advocate, with the department also having mobile offices and evening hours.
Bosworth also said that the department is adding staff, like a second deputy commissioner, and accomplishing more, with 5,720 certificates of occupancy being issued in 2016. This was more than 1,000 more than in 2013, Bosworth said.
“That is an indication of the fact that more is being done,” Bosworth said.
Nasta also raised concerns about ethics in the town. He referred to Gerard Terry, the former head of the North Hempstead Democratic Committee who pleaded guilty to tax fraud, and his wife Concetta Terry, who held a position as the deputy town clerk.
He also implied that Kim Kaiman, the former head of the town’s Business Tourism and Development Corporation and wife of former Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, received favorable treatment under her watch.
“It’s not a failing of Judi Bosworth,” Nasta said. “But she is part of the organization.”
Bosworth said that she believed Kim Kaiman was truly qualified to head the tourism agency. She also said that she initially was unaware of Terry’s situation, but when called, suggested he step down.
“You can make the call, or I will make the call,” Bosworth recalled herself saying.
These two situations helped spawn major reforms, Bosworth said. Among them are people only being allowed in Town Hall on official business, candidates needing to file financial disclosure forms and requiring elected officials to list all the people they are related to on a form. Any relative or spouse must be in a different department.
Additionally, Bosworth said the town has centralized the contract procurement process.
In regard to economic development, both candidates expressed support for meeting with people to try to find a means to spur growth.
Bosworth said she is a “tremendous believer of ‘shop local,'” but also noted that online shopping has made economic development “more of a challenge now than ever.” She said that the town should have more diverse businesses that focus on the goods and services residents need.
Bosworth also said town officials want to use software to identify vacant storefronts so potential business owners are aware of new opportunities in the area.
Nasta said the town needs more “hub centers” to appeal to the younger generation and should investigate if funds are available for more affordable housing. He said he supports the addition of a third track to the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line.
Nasta also noted that some areas like New Cassel have been “underserved,” with dirty streets, abandoned cars and residents who purportedly have not seen a town official visit there.
“To me, it sounds like they don’t have as much voice as they should have,” Nasta said.
Bosworth said that it is “patently untrue” that southern portions of North Hempstead have been neglected. She said she frequently went to New Cassel for events and that she recently visited Charles J. Fuschillo Park to review possible improvements.
Ultimately, Bosworth said she hopes to continue to serve the town by further reviewing the Building Department, modernizing the town code, pursuing grants and maintaining a fiscally responsible government.
“We’re not cutting services,” Bosworth said. “We’re looking for ways of providing the services that our residents so deserve, but being very mindful of the fact that taxes are an issue.”
Nasta, meanwhile, said he hopes to continue a career of public service and maintain the town’s successful programs.
“I never served as an elected official. However, I was on the other end: I was a precinct commander,” Nasta said. “I know how to work with people, not only in my office but with the community.”