Written by Jackie Pierangelo Friday, 23 October 2009 00:00
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, residents will go to the polls and cast their vote for North Hempstead Town Clerk. This year, Democrat incumbent Leslie Gross is seeking re-election. She is being challenged by Republican Jon Wicks. Town Clerk is now a four-year term. Both candidates were asked to submit biographical information, their platforms and to state what they would bring to the office of town leader. The following profiles were compiled from information provided by the candidates:
Leslie Gross, a resident of Manhasset, filled out the unexpired term of Michelle Schimel from April to November 2007, when she was elected to a two-year term as town clerk; the term of office has since been expanded to four years. Since 2007, she attended the Cornell Municipal Clerks Institute and completed the educational requirements to achieve Certified Municipal Clerk status before the completion of her third year in office.
Prior to town clerk, Gross was executive director of North Hempstead’s Business & Tourism Development Corporation where she spearheaded Beach Fest and North Hempstead Day projects and created cable television programs including Around The Town and A Taste of The Town. She is actively involved with the Rotary Club of Great Neck, Rotary International’s District 7250, North Shore/LIJ Health System, Gift of Life, Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, The Amsterdam and the Children’s Sports Connection. Gross has also been a longtime member of Temple Judea in Manhasset.
Gross, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Ohio University and her master’s degree at Northwestern University, began her career as a speech pathologist and hearing-impaired teacher. Prior to working for the Town of North Hempstead, she was employed as president and co-owner of a promotional marketing firm.
“As North Hempstead’s Town Clerk for the past two and a half years, I have come to understand and appreciate the broad range of responsibilities the town clerk’s office manages. I serve as the town’s Registrar, Records Management Officer and secretary to the town board. In addition to serving the public’s current licensing needs (birth, marriage, death, dog, hunting, fishing, peddler, taxi, towing and limousine) the town clerk is the Records Management Officer for the entire town,” said Gross, adding, “As clerk, I ensure that all records, historical to present day, are properly maintained and methodically stored so that they are easily available and accessible to the public today and for future generations.”
During her tenure as town clerk, Gross said one of the important undertakings was the restoration and preservation of the Dongan Patent of 1685, which documents the granting of certain property rights to the town. She initiated a Late Night Program in the registrar’s office enabling the public to obtain marriage licenses and copies of birth and death certificates without losing time on their jobs and worked to expand the town’s participation in the Coats for Kids Campaign by increasing the number of collection sites, making it easier for all town residents to make contributions. Additionally, through the Dog Outreach Program, Gross said new dog license applications available through veterinarians and incorporated villages in North Hempstead have increased by nearly 40 percent.
Looking ahead, Gross said she is “working on the acceptance of payments by credit card and the availability of electronic forms (e-forms) on [the town’s] website.” She also plans to “continue sharing the history of the town through monthly articles that have begun appearing in local papers.”
Gross and her husband, Howard, a management consultant, have been married for over 30 years. They have two married sons and two grandchildren.
Jon Wicks was born and raised in Carle Place and currently resides there. Wicks, who graduated from Franklin Pierce University in 2004 with a bachelor of arts in history, has been a banker at First National Bank of Long Island for the past four years. He is the former vicepresident of the College Republicans, in addition to being an active member of the Nassau County Young Republicans Club. Wicks is also a volunteer firefighter in the Westbury Fire Department and an active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church, where he is the youth leader.
If elected North Hempstead Town Clerk, Wicks said he would “bring responsibility, transparency, and accessibility to the town clerk’s office.” He said he will implement “new hours of operation so all constituents will have an opportunity to file” with the town clerk’s office.
One of Wicks’ goals, if elected, would be to start a “going green” initiative. He would also want to have all forms and permits accessibility through the Internet so people can e-file with the town.
As town clerk, Wicks said he will work to reduce the size of government and taxes by eliminating patronage appointments and perform honest audits and require background checks on new employees. He also wants to have an open dialogue with the community to prevent flawed laws from being enacted.
On the topic of consolidation, he asserts, “I will support our villages, volunteer fire departments and other special districts from consolidation. Protecting local government will keep costs down and provide efficient services.”