Zuckerman, Lems talk issues in District 2 race

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Town of North Hempstead Councilman Peter Zuckerman (left) and Green Party candidate Cassandra Lems (right) sat for interviews with Blank Slate Media. Both are running for the 2nd District seat on the Town Council. (Left photo by Rose Weldon, right photo courtesy of Cassandra Lems)

Two-term Town of North Hempstead Councilman Peter Zuckerman (D-Roslyn) and Green Party opponent Cassandra Lems differed in recent interviews over whether enough has been done to improve the Building Department.

Zuckerman and Lems, who are running in the 2nd District, sat down for separate interviews with Blank Slate Media. The Republican candidate, Ragini Srivastavra, was not available for an interview.

The 2nd District encompasses Albertson, East Hills, East Williston, Glenwood Landing, Greenvale, Herricks, Manhasset Hills, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Heights and Searingtown.

“Since myself and Supervisor [Judi] Bosworth came in to office here in North Hempstead, we made it a point to try to improve the procedural items relating to the Building Department,” Zuckerman said. “We’ve added more examiners, we have an applicant advocate. We’re trying to make things more efficient and more user-friendly. I realize it’s not a perfect situation but we’re trying to make it better and I’m dedicated to that.”

For her part, Lems said that it appears not enough is being done.

“It sounds like the Building Department is just not good enough yet,” Lems said. “Everyone that I talked to says they tried to get a permit for a new garage or something and it took three or four years and it made them want to move.”

Zuckerman, a Roslyn native who graduated from Roslyn High School in 1986, worked as an attorney before being elected to the Board of Trustees for the Village of East Hills, where he stayed for 11 years before being elected to the Town Board in 2013. He lives with his wife and three children in East Hills. In addition to running on the Democratic line, Zuckerman is running on the Independent line and the Working Families line.

Lems grew up in Cockeysville, Maryland, and attended Goucher College in Baltimore for her undergraduate degree. Afterward, she worked in Washington, D.C., for 19 years, and moved to New Hyde Park with her husband soon after they married. Since then, Lems has worked as a patent paralegal for local law firms. She registered with the Green Party in 2011, and became active with the party later in the decade, running on its tickets for state Senate in 2013, Nassau County executive in 2015, and District 10 of the Nassau County Legislature in 2017.

Zuckerman would not discuss the issues of Roslyn Country Club and Clinton G. Martin Park, which are both in litigation. Additionally, he did not comment on the proposed Macy’s Brookfield development in Manhasset, but did state that he was “looking forward” for the plans to be presented to the town council.

Concerning possible mixed-use or transit-oriented developments in areas like Roslyn, Zuckerman said each application should be looked at “on a case-by-case basis.”

“It’s not an easy process, but we need to protect our residents, we need to protect the areas that are part and parcel of our district, part and parcel of what the Town of North Hempstead is, and if a particular builder is unhappy, then I’m sorry that’s the case, but we’re all committed to working with those builders to overcome any obstacles,” Zuckerman said.

Both candidates support availability for medical marijuana, but only Lems supported recreational sales.

“A lot of people are saying we should opt out of recreational marijuana sales. I think that’s a mistake,” Lems said. “When the state legalizes marijuana, we should absolutely opt in and control where it’s sold so that it’s kept away from children.”

One issue that Lems said she is particularly concerned with is “cronyism” in local government, specifically members of the Board of Elections being named by those currently in office, which she says is detrimental to third parties like hers.

“The people on the Board of Elections are, of course, appointed by the Democratic and Republican parties,” Lems said. “They’re not hostile to [third party members], but they’re not as helpful as they could be.”

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