North Hempstead's newly inaugurated Supervisor, Judi Bosworth, pledged to build upon the legacy built by Jon Kaiman in his decade leading the town, citing pioneering initiatives such as Project Independence, emergency management and 311, and environmental programs.
In a positive, upbeat and forward looking address, she said, "This administration takes office at a time when the finances of our Town are solid The Town's bond rating is high, the budget is balanced, long-term debt has been signf8icantly reduced and the 2014 budget falls within the 2! tax cap. These factors and others give the Town of North Hempstead a stable and secure fiscal foundation, which I am committed to build on."
But, she said, "there is more that we can - and will- do. I will work with the Town Board and with our highly professional finance team to put into place a multi-year capital plan and a multi-year debt management plan, all of which will help ensure the stability and strength of the Town's finances, moving forward."
She pledged that her administration "will place a renewed focus on 'customer service' throughout Town government with an initial emphasis on the Building Department," and said she had already fulfilled one of her campaign promises, to create a new position, Applicant Advocate in the Building Department. She said that Lauren Summa has been named to the position and is already assisting residents in navigating the permit process.
"Although significant strides have been made," she said, "I remain committed to long-term improvements in our Building department" so that it works as an "ally with our residents and business people, in order to move our Town forward."
"We will make North Hempstead Town government even more open, transparent and accessible to the public," she said announcing that the first initiative in this respect would be to live stream all town Board meetings, beginning in the first quarter of the year;
Environmental protection, a signature issue of both former Supervisor Jon Kaiman and his predecessor, May Newburger, would also be a focus of Bosworth's administration, she said, pledging to strengthen laws, regulations and awareness to protect our aquifers and our drinking water."
She said she would build on the town's existing partnership with local school districts - such as its recycling program - to establish a new program to educate our young people regarding the importance of water conservation. "It really does start with the children," she said, sounding as she did when she was president of the Great Neck School Board.
To former Supervisor Kaiman, she said, "You led our town for a decade with your unique style, creative energy, focus on restoring finances and dedication to protecting our environment- led our town through the worst economic downturn in generations- yet, you still achieved signature initiatives: Project Independence, the Emergency Management Center, 311 service [pioneering the creation of 311 for a non-urban municipality]. We thank you and salute you for a job extraordinarily well done."
And she had gracious remarks for Councilwoman Dina M. De Giorgio, who was her opponent in the election for town Supervisor, saying, "I know she is dedicated to serving her community and there will be much common ground – it's already started."
Bosworth pointed to the diversity of the Town as one of its main strengths and appeals - something that was obvious looking around the room, and in the selection of a rabbi, an iman and a bishop to give the various benedictions.
"I often say that North Hempstead is truly an extraordinary and special Town I believe that uniqueness comes from a very special place - it comes from our people.
"We are a diverse Town - families that have been here for generations, young people who are returning here to raise their own families, immigrants from many countries. there are so many factors that account for why people want to be here - our exceptional schools, proximity to New York city, great parks and recreational facilities, world-class health care, our beautiful waterfront, and so many other reasons.
"But I would add to this list the idea of 'community.' As an elected official for over 20 years in our town, I have come to appreciate the simple fact that when we work together as a community to solve a problem, address a challenge, heal a hurt, we are always more effective when we do it together. We have seen it time and time again," she said basically describing the leadership style of building consensus which she has manifested throughout her public service.
"All our residents and all our community groups will have a 'seat at the table' in Town Hall, as we work together to make our Town an even more extraordinary place to live, work, and raise a family. Join with me in this effort. Take a seat at our table. And help make North Hempstead the very best it can be."
It was standing room only with well-wishers from Bosworth's long career in public service - from the Great Neck School Board, where she served for 16 years, from the County Legislature where she served for the past 6 years. There were mayors from Graet Neck's many villages, commissioners from special districts. US Senator Charles Schumer, US Congressman Steve Israel and former Congressman Gary Ackerman, State Senator Jack Martins and State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, as well as former State Senator Michael Balboni, County Legislators Judy Jacobs and Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, and newly elected Ellen Birnbaum who has taken Bosworth's vacated seat.
Bosworth was administered the oath by New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who was the district's long-serving State Assemblyman, for whom she worked for a time handling special projects -such as setting up health care fairs and tax grievance forums, and who encouraged her to make the run for County Legislature.
"You will set a strong vision for our town. It will be the right vision for our time," DiNapoli said.
She brings with her to town hall two other County Legislators with whom she sat side by side just months ago - Wayne Wink Jr. who was elected Town Clerk, and Robert Troiano who Bosworth appointed as her Director of Operations. Both had also previously served on the Town Council.
Wink, who was sworn in by US Congressman Steve Israel, said, "I am so honored to serve all of the people of the Town of North Hempstead as their Town Clerk. We are going to work hard to make this office a helpful and user-friendly place for Town residents to do business."
Congressman Steve Israel said, "This is the most rewarding part of government, where rubber meets the road, where you see your neighbors, see the results of your actions every day."
Town Councilwoman Viviana Russell, was administered the oath by Bishop Lionel Harvey of the First Baptist Cathedral Church of Westbury who drew a comparison with newsmen blinded by weather so unable to report for certain whether Edmund Hillary had reached the top of Everest or not. "what they said, not knowing if he had made it, was 'Hillary last seen reaching for the top.' Every time I've seen you, you're always reaching for the top."
The first African American woman elected and now reelected to North Hempstead's town board, Russell said she stands on the shoulders of Robert Troiano.
"My father was an immigrant from Cuba with a 6th grade education; my mother was a meek woman from North Carolina, who grew up where women were treated as second class citizens and black women as even less than a 2nd class citizen." But they instilled in her curiosity that, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, "insures an ever-recurring interest in life and turns even the most baleful experience to good service. - Both my parents have passed away but their curiosity lives in me – knowing greater things are ahead."
State Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, introducing Councilwman Lee Seeman, said that Seeman was one of her early heroes. "She taught me you can accomplish great things and still be nice."
Seeman, commencing her third term on the Town Board, has been a fixture in the Great Neck community for nearly six decades - "I was here for the Kennedy campaign and as New York State Democratic committeewoman, I worked with Tom DiNapoli for 35 wonderful years.
"We have done so much to make the Town of North Hempstead one of the best places to live in America I am eager to work with Supervisor Bosworth to continue to build on that legacy."
Angelo P. Ferrara, who is beginning his fifth term (and is not only the longest-serving member of the Council but the only one remaining who served with Supervisor May Newburger), was sworn in by State Senator Jack Martins.
A representative who has long worked in a spirit of bipartisanship, he recalled a meeting early on with Supervisor Kaiman when he said, "Our paychecks say Town of north Hempstead, they don’t say Democrat or Republican. We work for the people. The commitment we made to each other was that we would work as closely as we could for the betterment of the people – and Jon did that. I appreciate him not only as supervisor, but his friendship.
"I congratulate our new supervisor and town board. My commitment to you is to work as closely if not more as with Jon, to make sure his legacy is continued because it’s a tremendous legacy.
"To the residents of the town, I say, you make us what we are, you hold our feet to the fire and you should. You make sure we deliver to you the promises we made, because all too many politicians don’t do that, too many make promises but when get into office other things get in the way."
Congressman Israel teased Ferrara who is for the moment, anyway, the only man on the Town Council, with the recent resignation of long-time Councilman Thomas K. Dwyer. An appointment will be made to fill the vacancy.
Senator Charles Schumer, sensing the lateness of the hour, tore up his speech, but said about North Hempstead, "not only the best town government but the best government in the country."
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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