Written by Carisa Giardino Friday, 30 October 2009 00:00
Republican incumbent Kate Murray is seeking re-election to her fourth term as Hempstead Town supervisor. Challenging her this year is Garden City resident and Democratic candidate Kristen McElroy. They are seeking a two-year term as town leader.
Levittown resident Kate Murray has served as Hempstead Town’s first female supervisor since 2003. She said she is seeking another two-year term because taxpayers are looking to their elected officials for real leadership.
“That’s also why I’m freezing all town taxes for the second time in three years. I am seeking re-election to expand my initiatives to protect the environment and revitalize our local downtowns. Moreover, I am committed to providing the best government services at the lowest possible cost,” Murray said.
If re-elected, Murray hopes to continue offering “top-notch” services while presenting budgets that are fiscally responsible. She wants to maintain the town’s Wall Street credit ratings while supporting economic revitalization in impacted communities. She is also eager to continue Hempstead Town’s $40 million local stimulus program, which provides for area road improvements, supports construction jobs and stimulates the economy.
“Pursuing innovative development like the transit (commuter) oriented homes that the town has approved at the West Hempstead Train Station is a priority,” Murray said. “Pursuing reasonable development at the site surrounding the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is also high on my governmental agenda. Finally, I am working to expand the town’s green energy park, which will serve as a model for others who wish to reduce our carbon footprint, conserve precious resources and seriously confront the issue of how our environmental choices will impact future generations.”
Murray’s first priority is holding the line on all town taxes for 2010 while continuing a “full complement of services and programs to town residents.”
Right now, the town is dealing with some pressing issues, including the proposed Lighthouse Project.
“Development is coming to the site surrounding the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Murray said. “At the same time, the town board must take the time to make sure that any development that takes place at the site is done right.”
Murray said the town board must ensure major roadways don’t become parking lots due to traffic congestion, plentiful and pure drinking water is available and that the Lighthouse Group is clear on the number of structures, the height of all buildings and all related construction details.
For the record, Murray is “adamantly” opposed to any light rail system running through the Village of Garden City, a Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi proposal some critics say is only on the table to complement the Lighthouse Project.
“I believe that such a proposal would destroy the suburban character of a beautiful bedroom community,” Murray said.
Murray said she has spoken “forcefully and clearly” against the attorney general’s legislation that had as one of its goals the dissolution of village governments.
“Many people selected to purchase homes in villages because they favored highly localized control over zoning and other community decision making,” Murray said. “I support the choice of residents to retain their village governments, which are part and parcel of local communities’ identities.”
Murray believes keeping young people on Long Island is vital if the region is to thrive and prosper. “Hempstead Town is the first town in Nassau County to include an affordable housing component in its zoning ordinance,” Murray said. “As a result, the Archstone development represented Nassau’s first mixed-income rental home development, boasting a 20 percent affordable set-aside.”
Further, Murray noted that the approved transit-oriented rental housing project at the West Hempstead Train Station is specifically geared to young workers unable or not interested in purchasing their own home.
The mother-daughter in-house apartment law the town also recently approved now includes siblings. The construction of numerous Golden Age senior condominiums has allowed many seniors to leave their houses for a more affordable alternative. This has, in turn, opened up the stock of homes for young families, Murray said.
Finally, the town’s affordable single-family homes program has provided for the construction of over 200 homes with a sales price in the range of $150,000.
With all these issues and more at the forefront, Murray believes the biggest issue confronting Hempstead residents is still property taxes and the area’s cost of living. “I am holding the line on taxes in a responsible, gimmick-free manner. Hempstead Town is cutting spending by 3 percent. We’re holding managers accountable and pursuing federal and state grants to minimize the direct costs of local projects on our taxpayers,” Murray said.
“At the same time, neighbors across the town are confronting Nassau County assessment changes and updates that are increasing their share of the property tax burden while reducing the total share shouldered by commercial and industrial property owners,” Murray said.
Challenges lie ahead. Controlling government costs, maintaining the same high-level of government service and finding new environmentally responsible ways to meet energy needs are all challenges government leaders must face. Murray said she intends to meet these challenges head on.
Long active in community organizations and politics, Murray is a member of the Nassau County Bar Association, the Levittown Historical Society, Levittown Kiwanis and Friends of the Hofstra Arboretum, to name a few.
A graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School, Murray has received numerous awards over the years, including The Nassau County Trailblazer Award and the East Meadow Civic Association’s Woman of the Year Award (2003) and was named to the Long Island Press’ Power List Hall of Fame this past year.
She is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines.
Kristen McElroy, a lifelong resident of the Town of Hempstead, is challenging Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray for the two-year leadership post.
She hopes to unseat her Republican opponent because she is concerned about the town’s future. She believes the current leadership is “short changing” the town by putting the priorities of the Republican Party first.
“The continued patronage in the town’s special districts continue to place an unfair burden on the taxpayers of the town and simply reward the
Republicans and their friends,” McElroy said. “Town government can work more efficiently for the people. The government of the Town of Hempstead should be accountable to the people, not the political leaders in Westbury.”
If elected, McElroy said she wants to put an end to politicizing the supervisor’s office. As town leader, McElroy said she would not take direction from Democratic Party leaders but would make decisions on what truly benefits the residents of the town, allowing her judgment to be clear of all unnecessary influences.
First things first, McElroy said she would see the approval of the zoning application for the Lighthouse Project.
“The development is too important to the future of the town to be held up in political games and would go a long way to solve the systemic problems currently hitting the county and the town,” McElroy said.
McElroy believes the project is the “engine of economic revitalization” the Town of Hempstead needs.
“The current area surrounding the coliseum is a blighted parking lot, which will only continue to deteriorate if nothing is done. We have two visionaries willing to raise private money to the tune of $3.8 billion and the town is not even being hospitable. We should be rolling out the carpet for the developers, not continuing to put up roadblocks, when we should be looking for solutions,” she said.
Many, especially residents in Garden City, believe the county executive’s proposal for a light rail system goes hand in hand with the Lighthouse Project. McElroy, however, said the light rail system is not something currently being discussed and is actually a “talking point for Lighthouse opponents with no real facts on to which they base their opposition.”
“It is purely a scare tactic being exploited by opportune politicians in order to distract from the real conversation that should be taking place,” McElroy said.
She disagrees with the dissolution of villages. “Villages and fire districts should be left alone,” McElroy said. “Special taxing districts should be consolidated where it makes sense and saves taxpayers money.”
She believes so much more can be done to keep young people on Long Island. As Town of Hempstead supervisor, McElroy said she would do her best to implement County Executive Tom Suozzi’s 90/10 plan, which would allow 90 percent of Nassau County to remain as single-family neighborhoods, parks and open space while the remaining 10 percent, comprised of 18 downtowns, four mega projects and the reuse of underperforming malls, would be re-imagined to create “vibrant, attractive downtowns, with shops, restaurants, businesses, parks, and housing all within easy access to public transportation and major new redevelopment at the mega projects sites.”
McElroy said she understands that a project like the Lighthouse, as well as revitalizing downtowns situated near train stations, will provide the type of 21st century living today’s youth desire.
A lifelong resident of Garden City, McElroy said she knows challenges lie ahead, like “combating the entrenched interests that currently hold the town captive.” The biggest issue for her prospective constituents, according to McElroy, is a lack of political will power to tackle patronage, which, she said, increases the tax burden on residents and is currently holding up the Lighthouse project.
“Both of these issues go hand in hand as the Republican political leaders use the special districts to keep their friends and family wealthy and employed, and use the future of the town, the Lighthouse Project, to try and score cheap political points,” she said.
Married with three children, McElroy graduated Loyola in Maryland, attained a law degree from St. John’s University and began work in the Nassau DA’s office, which lasted four years. She then spent a year in Manhattan practicing medical insurance law before returning to Long Island and working as a defense lawyer representing the interests of underprivileged individuals and their families, which she has been doing for the past four years. McElroy ran for Senate back in 2008 but was unsuccessful.
She is currently running on the Democratic and Working Families party line.