Even though they are both East Rockaway residents, the contrast between incumbent Town of Hempstead 4th District Councilman Anthony Santino and his Democratic challenger, Patrick Gillespie, is stark.
Santino, 52, has served on the town board since 1993. The 23-year-old Gillespie has been a campaign worker, and is now a first-time candidate.
Before he was a councilman, Santino was a trustee and deputy mayor of East Rockaway, a district director for former U.S. Rep. Norman F. Lent, a special assistant to the county Board of Supervisors and the town’s director of communications. Gillespie works at the county Board of Elections.
Though there is a lot to be said for the vigor of youth, professional and life experience is vital for someone who makes decisions that affect people’s lives.
Gillespie makes strong points about creating more affordable housing in the town for young people by eliminating the ordinance that prohibits new development from being more than 10 percent rental, and applying an 80-20 split between fair-market-value rents and lower rents for applicants such as students, young adults and lower-income families.
His point is well taken that the town didn’t immediately assist Hurricane Sandy victims with supplies, but Santino pointed out that the town waived fees for those who rebuilt after the storm, communicated with residents in its aftermath and has begun repairing barriers to mitigate future flooding.
Gillespie takes issue with the town’s redistricting map, which he said disenfranchises voters in some areas of the town. Santino said he rejects the disenfranchisement premise, since Democratic Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby voted for the plan. “I look forward to continuing to represent each and every neighbor with the same responsive and personalized constituent services that are the hallmark of my tenure,” Santino has said. We will hold him to that pledge.
We encourage Gillespie to remain involved in civic matters, and look forward to seeing him run for office in the near future. The Herald expects Santino to make the most of his experience to help create an environment that attracts new residents and makes those who grew up here want to stay. We urge voters to re-elect him on Nov. 5.