Town of North Hempstead Supervisor May W. Newburger announced last week that she will not seek a sixth term in November. "It's time," she said in an interview on Friday, April 25. "I have the same feeling I had in Albany." She was referring to her decision not to run for a fifth term in the New York State Assembly. It was after she stepped down from the Assembly that she ran successfully for the North Hempstead Town Board. When the North Hempstead supervisor Ben Zwirn chose to run for Nassau County Executive, Ms. Newburger succeeded him as supervisor.
Supervisor May W. Newburger
Now she can look back with satisfaction on a job well done. "Both fiscally and environmentally, the town is in good shape," she said. "We've been lucky." Although the town still has the burden of the Sumitomo debt, the major financial rating firms of Moody's and Standard & Poor have raised its bond rating several times. The town has made significant progress in reclaiming the waterfront of Hempstead Harbor and is in the process of developing a nature trail beginning in Roslyn and continuing along the Port Washington waterfront, eventually to end at the head of Manhasset Bay in Manhasset. The Environment Legacy Fund which was created as a result of a successful bond referendum passed in 2002 will enable North Hempstead to continue to protect valuable parcels of land.
"As the saying goes," said Supervisor Newburger," it's wise to leave while the band's playing. There are other people ready to do the job." Asked whether she will endorse one of those people, she said that she probably will have to. "I'll wait and see who does declare. If I support someone it will be someone I believe is the best for the town, someone who understands what we've been trying to do. Of course the person will have to carve his own way but I'd like to feel that it would continue in the same direction."
There is expected to be no lack of candidates on both sides of the aisle. Among Republicans who have been named as prospective candidates are former North Hempstead councilmen Angelo Ferrara and James O'Connor, Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello, Assemblywoman Maureen O'Connell and Republican leader of North Hempstead Peter Cavallaro. Mr. Cavallaro had stated unequivocally that he will not be a candidate. "My job (as town Republican leader) is to come up with the best possible candidate, not to be a candidate myself."
Democrats whose names have been mentioned are Jon Kaiman of Great Neck, Councilmen Anthony D'Urso and Fred Pollack, Nassau County Legislator Craig Johnson, Nassau County Commissioner of Parks Doreen Banks and Assemblyman Tom DiNapoli. Mr. DiNapoli's spokesman, Michael Deering, says that Assemblyman DiNapoli is far too busy in Albany even to consider such a run. DiNapoli ran for North Hempstead supervisor against Republican John B. Kiernan 16 years ago.
We asked Supervisor Newburger to give us some autobiographical information which she shared with us. May Newburger was born in Springfield, MA, and led a peripatetic life in her early years. When she was 7 years old her mother was diagnosed with TB and sent to a sanitarium in Saranac Lake, NY. Her Scottish father returned to Scotland and young May was raised by an aunt and uncle. A precocious student, she graduated from high school and entered Hunter College at 15. She graduated from Hunter expecting to teach but teaching jobs were scarce and her aunt helped to get her started in the fashion industry, eventually doing fashion promotion for Cohama, a major fabric house.
She married stockbroker Jack Newburger and lived in London Terrace for two years. After their son Peter was born, the young family moved to Great Neck where May has lived ever since. She began to be active in community affairs in Great Neck, making her first entry into politics as a volunteer for Adlai Stevenson in his 1956 campaign. Jack Newburger was also an active citizen, first chairing a Great Neck Public Schools Adult Education Committee and later serving as president of the Great Neck Board of Education. May's first local political activities were in behalf of Irwin Landes, for whose assembly campaign she worked. Next came the successful campaign for United States Congress of Lester Wolfe. May went to Albany to work with Irwin Landes on issues relating to education and women. She was encouraged to run for the New York State Senate and she did, opposing the very popular Senator John Caemmerer. Although she lost, she looks back on it as "among the last of the civil campaigns." At this point her husband encouraged her to go to law school which she did but Jack Newburger died suddenly and she withdrew.
Her political career began with a successful run for the New York State Assembly where she served for eight "golden years." She worked happily under Assembly Speaker Stanley Steingut. The rest is local history.
Does she leave North Hempstead with any regrets? "We could never get further with affordable housing," she said and I'd like to see the New Cassel project move along. What's great about that project is that it's being done with the community, not for the community," said Ms. Newburger, who plans to put the next six months to good use.