Written by Jackie Pierangelo Friday, 23 October 2009 00:00
Democratic incumbent Jon Kaiman is seeking re-election to his fourth two-year, term as Town of North Hempstead Supervisor. Challenging him this year is Albertson resident and Republican candidate Lee Tu. The election is being held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.
Both candidates were asked to submit biographical information, their platforms and to state what they would bring to the office of town leader.
Jon Kaiman said that he brings to the office of Town of North Hempstead Supervisor a distinguished record of public and private sector accomplishments. His three terms in office have been underscored by his continuation of the town’s tradition of sound finances and good government, he said.
Kaiman states that North Hempstead is the seventh largest of approximately 1,500 towns, cities and villages in the State of New York. He goes on to note that “Money Magazine ranked the town number 46 in its 2008 listing of the ‘Best 100 Places to Live in America.’ North Hempstead was one of three communities in New York State to make the list.”
Since taking office on January 1, 2004, Kaiman says he has “spearheaded a series of bold initiatives to update the town’s infrastructure and incorporate modern management techniques in day-to-day operations.”
One of these has been the establishment of a 311 Constituent Response System. Kaiman said this new technology provides North Hempstead residents greater access to government, while enhancing efficiency and accountability.
TownStat, another one of his key initiatives, is gaining momentum in the town, he says. A performance measurement and management tool, TownStat tracks and reports performance in departments throughout the town with the goal of monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of how constituents’ concerns are addressed.
Another initiative he says he is proud of focuses on partnerships with neighboring municipal entities—“more than 100 exists within the town—to cut costs and help save taxpayer dollars.” He points out, “Since the formation in 2006 of the Office of Inter-municipal Coordination, the town has almost 50 inter-municipal agreements with various entities, including villages, special districts, school districts and associations.”
As supervisor, Kaiman said he has instituted North Hempstead’s annual Earth Day Program and Operation Clean Sweep—a month- long, top to bottom “Spring Cleaning” of the town. During its five years of existence, the program has removed tens of thousands of tons of garbage and debris, he notes.
He says he sees his role as supervisor, in part, as “steering the town toward environmentally-friendly alternatives.” He added, “I have engineered the establishment of a sweeping town-wide recycling initiative, a program that has located recycling containers in all the town’s buildings, its network of parks and eight of North Hempstead’s 11 school districts.”
Continuing, he states, “My mission to green North Hempstead also includes the purchase of over 20 hybrid and electric vehicles as well as the staging of various events, such as EcoFest, promoting environmental stewardship.”
Kaiman says another key component of his administration is the idea of Community Based Planning. “Beginning in 2004, the town has hosted scores of community-based meetings throughout North Hempstead to address local concerns relating to development projects, planning decisions, park and roadway improvements, and other local issues,” Kaiman reports.
As part of his “continuing quest to be responsive to the needs of the community,” Kaiman advises that he has also initiated Project Independence, a town-wide program born from a pilot launched two years ago in New Hyde Park to help senior citizens “age in place” and access information on basic services such as health care, social worker assistance and community programming.
Speaking about the other hats he wears, Kaiman states that he also serves as the chairman of the town’s Solid Waste Management Authority, commissioner of the Great Neck North Water Authority, and board member of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. Additionally, he serves as chair of approximately 19 non-commissioner run special districts operating within the town’s borders.
Kaiman received a Juris Doctorate from Hofstra University Law School, and a bachelor of arts from Hofstra University. Professionally, he was elected in 1999 to the Nassau County District Court, where for two consecutive years he received the highest rating possible from the Nassau County Bar Association’s Judicial Screening Committee.
Kaiman is a longtime resident of Great Neck, where he lives with his wife Kim, sons Shaun and Jared and daughter Iyana.
Lee Tu wants the voters to know that he brings to this campaign his broad experience as a private sector and municipal auditor, coupled with educational training as an accountant, skills which, he said, are essential in North Hempstead town’s next supervisor.
As senior audit manager at Cornick, Garber & Sandler, LLP in Manhattan, he has performed financial audits of private, public and not-for-profit entities. In addition, He has counseled publicly-traded companies on Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance issues.
Tu said he has gained invaluable governmental experience as an auditor in New York City’s Department of Real Estate Services. In that role, Tu performed compliance and contract audits for an agency with one of the nation’s largest municipal real estate portfolios. Moreover, he notes, “my colleagues and I saved city taxpayers millions of dollars because of our thorough audits. One of the reasons I’ve found success as an auditor is because of the B.S. degree in accounting in finance that I received from New York University’s Stern School of Business.”
He says his interest in government and community affairs dates back to his days at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, where he was selected to serve on the New York City Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. While at NYU, he was chosen to be a part of the prestigious Dwight Eisenhower Fellowship program in Washington, D.C.
Tu states that his administration would “take pro-active steps to limit the general fund property tax increases, excessive spending, and lax management that have too often been a staple of North Hempstead town government since I moved to Albertson in 1993.”
Tu says he has found that “Property taxes are one of the biggest issues on voters’ minds,” He adds, “And while the town’s general fund property tax is less than the school or county tax, the percentage tax increase we’ve seen in North Hempstead’s general fund tax levy in recent years are unacceptable.” He asserts that the “town government needs a top to bottom reassessment of the services it provides.”
Tu states that one of the key components of his platform is an overhaul and reform of the town’s mismanaged building department. “There’s no reason for the number of employee arrests and indictments,” he said.
He also says he wants to enact a ‘Property Owner’s Bill of Rights’ aimed at ensuring that the residents’ rights are respected whenever they interact with the Building Department. “Too often, applications can sit for months, even years, without any meaningful action,” he states.
Tu also wants to increase and enhance the number of town-sponsored concerts, firework displays and other quality of life initiatives. He says, “These programs can be allocated more money after my administration identifies and eliminates the excesses which have been built into the town’s general fund budget since 1992.”
He said he would also “Protect local governments, such as villages, water and park districts, and volunteer fire departments, government entities which have proven cost-effective and ensure local control of municipal affairs.”
Another component of his platform, Tu said, would be to “Work with our residents on important local issues such as creating additional parking and easing traffic in Port Washington, building a suitable sewer system in Great Neck, making sure street sweeping is not only announced but done throughout the year from New Hyde Park to Roslyn, as well as revitalizing our downtowns in areas such as Carle Place. My goal is to work with residents, civic associations and other concerned groups and make them a part of the decision-making process.”
Tu asks the residents of the town to cast their vote for him and choose a new beginning. “I believe that town government is about serving the community and not about the same old party politics,” says Tu. He added, “Only together we can preserve our quality of life and make the town that we love a better place.”