The difference a year can make was apparent on Tuesday night at Republican Headquarters as people anxiously awaited election results. In a hotly contested battle for control of the Town of Hempstead, Republicans won five out of the six newly created councilmanic district seats. Among those winning were Gary Hudes and Angie Cullin who will be representing the local area.
Last November the Republicans lost the three incumbents who were up for re-election, allowing Democrats a role on the board for the first time since 1905. Now, one year later, Dorothy Goosby, who was the lead plaintiff in the landmark class action lawsuit against the town claiming that the at-large voting system was racially biased thus leading to the division of the township into six councilmanic districts, is the only of those three Democrats to remain on the board. Serving along with Goosby, who will represent the 1st Councilmanic District, will be Republicans Joseph Kearney, James Darcy, Anthony Santino, Angie Cullin, and Gary Hudes.
Cullin, who will be giving up her position as town receiver of taxes to assume the role of councilwoman of the 5th Councilmanic District as of Jan. 1, 2001, defeated Democratic incumbent Rita Kestenbaum. Cullin made history in 1987 when she became the first councilwoman for the town and then made history again when she became the first female receiver of taxes. The 5th Councilmanic District includes Wantagh, North Wantagh, Seaford, Freeport, Bellmore, North Bellmore, Merrick, and Lido Beach. According to unofficial totals Cullin received 25,978 votes to Kestenbaum's 23,024.
Hudes, who had been appointed to the Town of Hempstead board in July 1999 and subsequently lost that position in the wake of Nassau County fiscal troubles in the November election last year, defeated Westbury resident Viki DeJong to win the position of town councilman for the 6th Councilmanic District. This district encompasses Levittown, East Meadow, Salisbury, and North Merrick. According to the unofficial totals Hudes received 27,638 votes to DeJong's 19,229.
Following her win, Cullin stated, "I'm very happy that I'm able to be councilwoman again so I can work with all of the people in not only my district but in the entire Town of Hempstead. I hope that we can all work together for the good of the town and to keep our taxes down and our bond ratings up." Cullin said that she would like to thank all of the people who went out and voted for her, and added that she believes that they sent a message with their vote. "I want to be there for the residents," said Cullin. "I have always worked for them and I want to continue to do so. I'm only a telephone call away and anyone who wants to call me can feel free to do so at any time."
Following his election, Hudes, a Levittown resident, stated, "I think that the residents of the 6th District have sent a clear message that they want someone to represent them who has a long history of dealing with their needs and community problems from the environment to our local mom and pop stores, to the potholes in front of their houses."
Hudes concluded, "I'm committed to the quality of life at the town level. I'm committed to keeping taxes down and to making the Town of Hempstead responsive to their every need. The future is important to my wife and three children and I know that it is important to every family and senior citizen in the district."