Viviana L. Russell is the town councilwoman for North Hempstead’s 1st District.
Elected in November 2009, and now in her third term as Councilwoman for the 1st District, she serves the hamlets of New Cassel and Carle Place as well as the Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury. Viviana holds the distinction as the first African American woman ever elected to the North Hempstead Town Board.
Throughout her tenure as Councilwoman, Viviana has worked tirelessly to carry out the visions set forth by the communities she represents, placing a high priority on environmental sensitivity, responsibility, and sustainability.
She has been a staunch supporter of affordable and workforce housing in her district, helping to bring in more than 250 affordable and workforce rental units, consisting of both family and senior housing, as well as 15 affordable single-family homes. Within the last year alone, more than 70 new affordable senior units have been completed and are fully occupied.
Some of her accomplishments include implementing the development and construction of the $26 million “Yes We Can” Community Center, working to put blighted properties back on the tax roll, and fighting to stop the casino at the former Fortunoff property and ensuring the Bristal Assisted Living facility did not abuse tax incentives to the detriment of the residents of the Westbury community.
Viviana has also consistently worked to promote clean air and quality living conditions. She introduced and passed local law changes establishing strict environmental performance standards in the town’s industrial areas, with particular emphasis on those that abut residential communities and guided town departments through enforcement efforts.
Through bipartisan efforts along with state and county officials, Viviana mitigated years of flooding and drainage issues for residents of both the Carle Place and Mineola communities. Additionally, she oversaw, to completion, the opening of the Homewood Suites and Springhill Suites Hotel on the former blighted BOCES property to ensure that its planned use is consistent with the community’s wishes.
Viviana has been intricately involved in the effort of rejuvenating revitalization through vision plan updates and Brownfield Opportunity Area projects, and she continues to work with residents and business owners to improve the downtown district, roadway infrastructure and parks for the hamlets of Carle Place and New Cassel.
Prior to becoming councilwoman, Viviana gained governmental experience working at the Town of North Hempstead’s 311 Call Center from its inception onboarding the Town departments and aiding residents with service requests and as a Constituent Liaison for New York State 13th Assembly District.
Earlier in her career, Viviana was the Professional Development and Communications Manager for Mom-mentum where she was responsible for devising, implementing, and maintaining all professional development initiatives, researching and securing additional grant funding, along with establishing and cultivating relationships with partners and supporters.
Her advocacy included supporting the Women’s Equality Act, Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Paid Family Leave Act, and fighting for minimum wage increases. Viviana has also worked in New Cassel-Westbury as a community advocate, helping to empower senior citizens to improve their quality of life, by expressing their concerns and ensuring they were treated fairly.
She has been named one of the Top 50 Influential Women on Long Island by the Long Island Business News and has served as a distinguished panelist at numerous conferences on the topic of women in politics.
Her community work has included partnering with Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc., Toys for Tots, the NY Islanders, and EGC Marketing Group to bring holiday cheer and gifts to more than 200 families in need during the holiday season. Viviana initiated an annual basketball and life skills program with NBA basketball player Tobias Harris of the Los Angeles Clippers for youth in North Hempstead. She also started annual ethnic and cultural celebrations among a host of other community enrichment programs.
Viviana and her husband, Gary, reside in New Cassel/Westbury. They have three children, Gary Jr., Imani, and Malachi, and two grandchildren. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science from the College of New Rochelle. Viviana is also a certified Para-Chaplain, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson, and a Notary Public. Deaconess in her church.
In the Role Of Town Clerk:
The Town Clerk performs four basic functions for the Town that includes records management of all departments with the exception of the Building Department, registrar of vital statistics including 21 of the 31 Villages, marriage officer, and licensing officer. It is one of the most efficient offices of the Town Government.
The clerk’s office interacts with every level of government in one way or another through the services it provides, such as Passports which are regulated by the Federal government; birth and death certificates, marriage, dog, hunting and fishing licenses, and games of chance permitting that are regulated through New York State; and interacts with Nassau County for filming, peddlers licenses, underground storage tanks, block parties and sidewalk sales.
Environmental sensitivity, accessibility and efficiency are vital to the Town Clerk’s office.
As the keeper of records (excluding the Building Department), I will continue to provide easy access to services that are also environmentally sound by eliminating paper waste and providing more online services. I have worked with the people that have come into my office but also those that I encounter in the places where they are most comfortable in their community and as Town Clerk it would be the same.
Keeping in mind that a number of people in the Town’s constituency are not comfortable with using technology or may not necessarily have the ability to reach our office during the current business hours, I will go out into the community to ensure that the residents are receiving the services they want and need.
Implementing late night office hours and on-the-go services in places such as senior programs, houses of worship and community centers within the Town will accomplish this.
As registrar, the office of the Town Clerk issues birth certificates, death records and marriage licenses, impacting people during the most crucial times of their lives. Whether it is the birth of a child, the death of a loved one or through marriage I will make the Office of the Town Clerk more convenient while ensuring the most positive interactions possible between the office and the public.
Due to the nature of sensitivity of these roles, I will seek modern techniques to centralize tools such as databases, software platforms and opportunities for technological growth and training resources for staff in a safe and secure manner that maintains the public’s privacy while bringing all systems and processes into the 21st Century, thus enhancing the operations.
While the Clerk’s Office is one of the most efficient offices of the Town, I will improve office efficiency by continuing to maintain redundancy and accountability amongst staff while remaining compliant with all federal, state and local guidelines.
In addition to the above some of the initiatives I would work on would be to add to more diversity to staffing as the town is a great mosaic of people and cultures, as well as seek to reduce the propensity for identity theft and fraud by working with local and state agencies to implement a program to clean up outdated records.
I would also look to bring on services such as the Trusted Travelers program, EZ- Pass, Handicap Parking Permits and increased language access.
I have a proven record of successfully working with federal, state, county and village governments as well being there to assist the communities that I serve. I ask the voters to choose a leader that has the experience and knows the responsibilities of the office. Vote for Viviana Russell for North Hempstead Town Clerk.