Two months after Laura Gillen was elected Town of Hempstead supervisor, defeating Republican Anthony Santino in a historic victory, she was sworn in to office on Monday, the first Democrat to take control of the town in more than a century. The last Democrat to win the town supervisor’s post was Robert Seabury, who was elected by a five-vote margin in 1905. Gillen defeated Santino by roughly 2,000 votes, ending his more than two decades on the Town Board.
“We’re going to break down the walls of silence and secrecy separating town hall from the taxpayers, and begin ushering in a new era of openness and transparency in the Town of Hempstead on day one,” Gillen, 47, said at Hofstra University’s John Cranford Adams Playhouse.
Gillen was vocal during Santino’s final weeks. She blasted his successful effort to pass a contract amendment that would prohibit future termination of civil service employees, except for cause, saying that it would limit her administration’s ability to balance the town budget during fiscal emergencies.
“I think every taxpayer in the Town of Hempstead is against that ridiculous amendment,” Gillen said last week. “We’re going to explore all avenues to rid the town of what I think is an immoral and potentially unenforceable amendment.”
Gillen said she has been visiting town departments with her transition team, and will continue to do that during her first few days in office “to see how things are running, what’s working, what’s not working, where we could save money, where we can improve services, and trying to work cooperatively with the people who are in place and see if there’s anybody we need to replace.”
“It’s no longer going to be a town that’s dominated by party politics,” she said. “It’s about people.”