"Hempstead residents deserve a government that is concerned about its citizens' quality of life - not how many Republican cronies it can put on the payroll," Barbara Patton, a Democrat hailing from Malverne said as she officially announced her candidacy for Hempstead Town Supervisor on the steps of town hall May 13.
On the steps of Hempstead Town Hall Tuesday afternoon, Democrat Barbara Patton at the podium announces her run for town supervisor in the November election in front of supporters, Legislators Roger Corbin (2nd right) and Jeff Toback (right). Photo by Joe Rizza
Legislator Roger Corbin (D-Westbury), Nassau County's deputy presiding officer and one of several Patton supporters who stood by her side during the afternoon press conference, said, "It's my pleasure to endorse and work very hard for Barbara Patton. She is going to upgrade the seat - not downgrade the seat. They [Republicans] have run this Town of Hempstead for too long. It's no longer business as usual. We are not going to have Barbara Patton saying, 'I solemnly swear I quit' like the last two supervisors did."
Corbin's colleague, Jeff Toback (D-Oceanside), a legislator from the Seventh Legislative District, added, "Ninety-eight years ago a Democrat was elected supervisor in the Town of Hempstead. Robert T.C. Berry ran for re-election in 1907 and lost. There hasn't been a Democrat in town hall since.
"The stars are aligned though for 2003 to be the year. All Nassau Democrats, led by Judy Jacobs and Tom Suozzi and our team, have never been stronger than they are right now. People in the Town of Hempstead know that Barbara Patton is going to be the most qualified candidate. I'm so happy to be part of Barbara's team and I'm proud to be here on town hall's steps as she kicks off her campaign."
Introduced as the "next Town of Hempstead supervisor," Patton said Nassau County voters have shown that they are "tired of the Republican patronage mill" and the "corruption and inefficiency that are its inevitable results." She believes that patronage mill is "alive and well" in Hempstead Town and it's time for Republicans to pass the torch.
"It's time for new leadership ... The Republican machine has been so busy padding the pockets of its donors that it seems not to have noticed that for instance, there is a lack of affordable housing in this town," she said.
"Young families can't afford to live here, my children can't afford to live here and seniors, who've spent their entire lives here, can't afford to stay. That's a disgrace and its going to change."
Patton vows that if elected, within the first month of her term, she will hold a housing summit, bringing in experts from the community, different levels of government and academia who have confronted the issue.
Patton added that although current leaders boast of a town surplus doesn't in any way mean that the Town of Hempstead is being run efficiently. "It means that the residents are being overtaxed," she said.
Patton also vows to, within the first month of her term, conduct an audit of the Town's structure to determine which services are being duplicated and where operations can be effectively streamlined.
"For nearly 30 years the people of the Town of Hempstead have been told that they are not able to elect their supervisors because the position gets handed down from one Republican crony to another," she said to rousing applause. "It appears that the main qualification for the position has been how much money you or your family contributes to the Republican Party. That has to change."
The daughter of civil servants, Patton owes much to her ancestors.
Her father fought in World War II and upon returning from serving his country, he encountered racial barriers through employment in the private sector. Her mother, who joined her on the steps of town hall, faced similar circumstances. "But they both took civil service exams and spent their careers working as civil servants for the government," Patton said.
"Neither of my parents went to college but my Aunt Adele, who is also here with me today, not only went to college but became the director of admissions and then the registrar at Baruch College. She was a trailblazer in our family, and along with my mom and my two grandmothers, was a great inspiration to me."
A current assistant professor of business law at her alma mater Hofstra University, Patton also chaired the Nassau County Districting Advisory Commission until March of this year and also held the post of commissioner of the Nassau County Board of Elections between April 1999 and July 2002.
Patton also served as a New York State Assemblywoman in the 18th District between January 1983 and January 1988, representing 150,000 constituents in seven jurisdictions. During this time Patton played a major role in convincing the attorney general's office to bring a lawsuit against a major Nassau County-based detergent manufacturer, resulting in a halt to harmful chemical dumping in Hempstead and Uniondale water systems and clean-up of dump sites.
"My ancestors have taught me that with hard work, faith and the support of family and community, anything is possible," Patton said. "They taught me not to let barriers of any kind stand in my way ... I have carried these lessons throughout my life. They are, for me, what leadership is all about - striving for excellence in myself and expecting and demanding excellence from others. This is the kind of new leadership I will provide as Hempstead town supervisor."