Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 08 August 2013 00:00
Mineola resident Joseph Wood is the newest hopeful to enter the race for North Hempstead town clerk, on the Conservative line. He’ll face off against incumbent Leslie Gross, who switched to the Republican Party in May, and Wayne Wink, a Nassau County legislator from Roslyn.
Wood, 73, is retired and a former director of stewardship for the Diocese of Brooklyn. Describing himself as a fiscal conservative, Wood said he was interested in the race because the election lacks a true right-winger.
Admittedly a “rookie politician,” Wood feels his fresh take on the role of the town clerk would be aided by his staunch ideals of volunteerism. He thinks he can challenge Gross and Wink in a run-off election and doesn’t see himself as an underdog.
“We need to make sure the taxpayers of North Hempstead are protected,” said Wood. “With a three-way race, there’s a run-off and I would hope to be in that run-off. It’s about choice, you’re either going to liberal-liberal or you’re going to go with me, a conservative. I’ve never been in politics before, but I’m confident I can handle whatever comes my way.”
Wood operates and owns three Uniondale-based nonprofit homes that transition recovering addicts back into society. People in recovery are allowed to stay up to two years in dwellings.
Wood’s first home was Monica’s Manor, named after St. Monica, who has been dubbed the unofficial patron saint of alcoholics. He was granted a 501(c)3 for the non-profit in 2002 and bought the house in 2005.
In 2008, Wood’s brother-in-law Peter passed away, which prompted him to put a down payment on a second house, named Pete’s Place. In January 2011, Wood opened Rose’s
Residence, named after Catholic Daughters of America’s Court of St. Rose of Lima. The group supported Wood’s quest to aid recovering addicts.
“They supported us from before we even opened the first house,” he said. “They continued to support us and I think always will.”
While running three homes may seem small compared to running an office covering a town of more than 200,000 residents, Wood thinks his experience integrating people back into society would push the clerk’s position toward new avenues of community outreach.
“In my life, [volunteerism] is a big thing,” he said. “I’m the happiest guy in the world because I give my time, I give my talent to those who need it. I want to see how my position as clerk would help the little guy.”