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Wink Stumps For Votes

Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink is truly a busy man these days, busier still now that he is running for Town Clerk of North Hempstead. In addition to serving as a Nassau County Legislator, which is considered a part time job with part time pay, Wink is a practicing attorney. While many people in today’s economic environment may work at two jobs, very few of them are likely to be on call 24/7 as is standard for a county legislator.

Wink is not complaining. He says he loves his law practice and he loves representing the people of the 11th legislative district even though most of his work days are 12 hours long.

When Legislator Wink is asked why he is seeking the position of Town Clerk, which is now held by Leslie Gross, he says “It has been frustrating to be part of the minority in the legislature during the past four years.  The democrats have had to be watch dogs over the majority, trying to keep spending and borrowing in check, but have had very little impact on policy.  It has been frustrating to me personally.”  

Wink points out that he loves meeting constituents and translating their input into recommendations for programs and policies. He believes this is an integral part of the Town Clerk’s job. “As the head of the office of Clerk you are responsible for interpreting laws and making recommendations and these are important policy making decisions that can have an immediate impact on the quality of life in North Hempstead.”

Town Clerk Higher Profile

People “have the mistaken notion that moving from County government to town government is a step down in responsibility,” Wink said. “In fact I now represent approximately 70,000 people. As Town Clerk I would be accountable to more than 230,000 people.  My experience as a lawyer will be invaluable.”

Both candidates for town clerk have described the office as the “pulse of the town.”

Wink says the office is staffed by good, knowledge people that do their jobs well.  He agrees with incumbent Gross that one of the key responsibilities of the clerk is to set the tone and the vision for the “face of town government”.

Campaigning takes up whatever free time he had. The good news for Wink is that the roles of legislator and candidate often blend one into the other as was evident Friday morning as this reporter tried to keep pace with legislator/candidate Wink as he went from one meeting to another.

First up was a 9 a.m. meeting with Aline Khatchadourian C.P.A who is the minority finance director for the legislature. She is employed by the Nassau County Democratic Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to brief Legislator Wink on the issues that will be addressed during this week’s budget hearings which will focus on social service issues. Initially, the discussion revolved around NIFA’s assessment of the excessive risks in the budget proposal by County Executive Ed Mangano and any probable effects on cuts in social service programs.

Wink expressed concerns to Khatchadourian regarding the revenue collected from the “red light program” which was supposed to be segregated to support community based social service programs and which have now been transferred to the operating budget.  He asked for specific information regarding funding levels for the programs.

Khatchaddourian also  presented the findings of the Legislative Office on Budget Review (LOBR) which included lots of complex financial information all of which needed to be assimilated by Wink before the hearing this week. The LOBR is a non partisan arm of the government which analyzes the budget and makes it findings public.

Spending Time in Port

From this meeting it was on to Port Washington for what Wink enjoys most about his legislative duties and campaigning, meeting with constituents.

The first visit was to the Port Washington Children’s Center which is located in the Landmark building on Main Street. Legislator Wink read a story to the “Sea Turtles”, a class of three year olds. Wink reads to the children several times a year and they are not an easy audience, but Wink says he always looks forward to the time he spends at the Children’s Center.

Then it was on to a brief meeting with Sharon Maier-Kennelly the executive director of the Landmark on Main Street to discuss the refurbishment of the gymnasium.  The last element of this project, the replacement of the floor, is being partially funded by a county grant with matching funds raised in the community.  Maier-Kennelly was eager to thank Wink for his effort in obtaining the grant for the gym and other Landmark projects over the years.

Wink dropped in on another meeting that was about to begin in the Landmark theater just to say hello to voters,  and then it was on to the Port Washington North Village Hall for a meeting with Steve Kaplan, Port North traffic and safety commissioner

On the agenda was water pooling and sewer placement on Old Shore Road. The village is planning to re-pave the road but the county sewer needs to be relocated first. Organizing the sequence of events between two governments is no easy task but Wink and his legislative aide Melissa Ryan said they will get the ball rolling and try to conclude the process quickly.

Also up for discussion, the light at the corner of Main Street and Shore Road which is the only four way stop light in New York State. The buttons that enable pedestrians to cross are not prominently displayed and the signage is inadequate.

Wink says he will work with Kaplan to organize all the parties involved, Baxter Estates, the Town of North Hempstead and the county which is responsible for traffic lights. The objective, to provide signage that is more informative to pedestrians wanting to cross the streets and solicit the required studies that could result in alteration of the time pedestrians are allowed for crossing the street.

One thing is for sure, if Wink is successful in his bid for Town Clerk he will be happy to go from three 24/7 jobs to just one 24/7 job.