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Source: The Island Now

Democrat Tammie Williams said her opponent in the race for Hempstead Town Council’s 2nd District seat, 12-year Republican incumbent Edward Ambrosino, has not effectively represented his constituents.

“I got into this race to be an advocate for the communities that are not represented by the town,” Williams said in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media.

The 2nd District, which includes Bellerose Terrace, Floral Park, South Floral Park, Garden City, Garden City South, New Hyde Park, Salisbury, Stewart Manor, and parts of Bellerose, East Meadow, Elmont, Franklin Square, Hempstead, Uniondale and West Hempstead, encompasses several unincorporated areas that need strong representation to access town services.

But Ambrosino has failed to provide that representation, said Williams, a community organizer who lives in Elmont and sits on the library Board of Trustees there.

The only area he makes an effort to represent is Garden City, a village with its own government that needs “minimal assistance” from the town, Williams said.

For example, she said, he was noticeably absent when 900 people gathered in Salisbury to protest the video casino proposed for a former Fortunoff Jewelry store.

In December 2013, Williams said, she and other Elmont residents tried to get their elected officials to help them stop a liquor store from opening near a library and day care center last year, but Ambrosino was unreachable.

When they asked him about the proposed at a Town Hall meeting later that winter, he accused them of lying, even though they had documents showing the store had applied for the space, Williams said.

“We have the physical document, so how can you call what’s on paper a lie?” she said.

If elected, Williams wants to make Hempstead’s hiring and contracting processes fairer and more transparent.

Many jobs in Hempstead that do not require a civil service test are not publicly posted, she said, meaning they go to applicants with connections to lawmakers.

As a member of the council, Williams said, she would ensure those jobs are posted so anyone could apply.

She said she would also propose a law requiring town officials to recuse themselves from hiring decisions for civil service jobs when they know the applicant. This would “safeguard” both lawmakers and applicants for town jobs from conflicts of interest and cronyism, she said.

Williams said she thinks insider hiring prevents young people who could make a positive impact on the town government from ever getting involved.

“There’s certain positions that you go to school for just to be able to do these things, (and) you’re told not to because of who you are affiliated with,” she said.

With regard to the town’s contracts, Williams would post a searchable list on the town website of all current contractors, the projects they were hired to complete and how much they were paid. Requests for proposals should also be published online so residents can see all the details they contain, she said.

“The process needs to be as transparent as possible,” she said. “There’s no reason why you can’t go on the town website, look at what needs to be done in the town and see the contractors.”

Williams faces a fundraising disadvantage in the race. The most recent available campaign finance filings show Ambrosino has $47,786.87 in his war chest, while Williams said she has a little over $13,000.

She would be the second African-American woman ever elected to the Town Council, and would serve alongside the first, Dorothy L. Goosby (D-1st District).

Williams, who also helps run the Queens-based mentoring organization Girls PRIDE, a said she wants to bring more diversity to the council. 

Five of its six members are white, while almost a third of the town’s population is of color, according to 2010 U.S. Census numbers.

The disproportionate representation is the result of unfair redistricting, she said, adding that gerrymandering “dilutes the voices of communities, especially communities of color.”

Williams said her top priority as a councilwoman would be to provide good “constituent service” to her whole district.

“Your political affiliation is not important when you call me,” she said.

Source: The Island Now

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