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Gross Talks Town Clerk Race

Town Clerk Leslie Gross sat down with Anton reporters last week to explain why she’s running for re-election, her switch to the Republican ticket and why she’s the most knowledgeable person for the job.

Gross is up against Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink for Town of North Hempstead town clerk, a position she has held since 2007. Since then, she has been a part of several initiatives, including drug testing for taxi drivers, extending office hours twice a month, and the Hometown Heroes program.

Gross, a longtime Democrat, made the switch to the Republican ticket after finding out through a newspaper article that the Democratic Party would not be endorsing her. The switch has angered and confused many, but Gross says that the public needs to focus on who the candidates are, and vote for a person, not a party.

“I was given the opportunity to run again, with no strings attached. To be who I am and to serve all people,” Gross said. “It has been a wonderful opportunity to show the public that this is a fusion ticket.

“We’re here to serve the public, not to serve bosses. We’re not here to serve anybody but the people who elected us. That’s our first priority,” she says. “When I took my oath as town clerk, I signed an oath to be impartial and serve all people. And I take that oath very seriously.”

Gross says that her education at Cornell’s Municipal Clerks Institute for the past six years, and designation as Master Municipal Clerk, also pushed her to not give up the race.

“I wanted to continue because I’ve worked really hard and this is part of my soul, this is what I love to do,” Gross said. “I didn’t want to waste all of this education, this passion, and dedication I have.”

Not only does Gross feel that she is the most dedicated and knowledgeable person for the job, she says there is still a lot she’d like to change. She is passionate about making sure town records are preserved and would like to incorporate laser fiche, software that will help preserve the board meeting minutes and records electronically. She also wants to switch to a more paperless system with Novus Agenda and promote transparency in government, which can be done in part by getting agendas and minutes out to the public earlier.

“I want to make sure our local government is as transparent as it can be,” Gross said. “There is nothing that makes me angrier than keeping these things secret that are really going to be discussed for public benefit.”  

She says that as town clerk she has reached out to different departments and community organizations, such as civic associations and the scouts, to work collaboratively to accomplish goals.

“It’s my job to work with everybody. I think people who aren’t afraid to listen to others who have good ideas will get more done,” Gross said.

Wink recently accused Gross of having an “adversarial” and “testy” relationship with Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, which led to internal tension and inefficiency. Gross said that she disagrees.

“I am a person with my own opinions,” Gross said. “We have had disagreements, but it’s my job, as an independent thinker, to evaluate, collaborate and voice my opinion. After that, the supervisor has the right and ability to weigh all the information he’s gotten and to make a decision. I don’t think I would do the town any justice to just say I agree all the time.”