Written by Betsy Abraham Thursday, 20 June 2013 00:00
Wayne Wink, Town of North Hempstead town clerk candidate, sat down with Anton reporters recently to talk about what makes him good for the job and the current administration’s shortcomings.
Wink was originally running for county comptroller, however, he decided to step down after a lack of union backing. Wink said that a number of big unions decided to endorse Howard Weitzman and also garnered the support of the working families party for Weitzman.
Even if Wink had won the Democratic primary, he would have faced Weitzman in the general election in November.
“It seemed to me that Howard, George Maragos and I in the same race would almost guarantee Maragos’ re-election. And I don’t think that’s in the best interest of the tax payers of Nassau County,” Wink said.
When the opportunity to run for town clerk presented itself, Wink said he felt it would be a good fit.
“Town government is something I’ve always held near and dear to me. I think because for so many people it’s the first line of government, in some respects it’s the most important line of government,” Wink said.
Wink is running against incumbent Leslie Gross. Gross, who has always associated herself with the Democratic party, recently announced that she would be running on the Republican ticket.
Wink credits the switch to the GOP ticket to tensions that may exist between Gross and Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman.
“I think it’s unfortunate because people identify themselves as a believer in the tenets of a particular party. When you switch, it puts a lot of that into question. And when you switch just for the purpose of keeping your job, it raises concerns on the part of typical voters who think they know you for standing for certain things,” Wink said.
The town clerk is responsible for the most essential functions of local government, including issuing licenses and maintaining birth and death certificates and town records. But Wink says that the role is more than just administrative.
“I think the town clerk can be a policy person as well. The town clerk’s unofficial function has been the goodwill ambassador and eyes and ears of the town. The clerk’s position can be much more proactive and helpful in running town government,” Wink said. “Being a partner in government is an important part of being a town clerk.”
And because of what Wink called an “adversarial” relationship with the supervisor, Gross hasn’t been able to have that type of partnership.
“The system in place right now is competent. Licenses are issued and regulations are meted out. Do I think there could be better coordination within the government dealing with the clerk’s office and how they interact with all the other levels of government?
Absolutely,” Wink said. “Right now there’s been a fairly testy relationship between the supervisor and clerk’s office. I don’t think it needs to be that way or benefits anybody to have that internal tension.”
Wink said that the clerk could also help clear up the overlap in the government, a problem that presented itself with the Bruce Terrace Flood Remediation Project in Mineola. In a situation like Bruce Terrace, which is village-owned but town property, Wink says that the town clerk could have helped in providing town archives.
“To have the village say it’s the town, to have the town say it’s the county and the county say it’s the village does nobody any good. All of the historic documents of the town reside with the town clerk. Some of those documents could have been readily available to smooth out some of the questions. I think the clerk’s role can be to untie those knots, or at the minimum cut through the red tape and find a solution,” Wink said.