Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes announced last Monday that he would step down from the board in June.
A Republican from Levittown, Hudes serves northern sections of Wantagh and Seaford. He said that he has worked 365 days a year for 17 years, responding to calls from his constituents at all hours of the day, on holidays and on weekends — and spending time away from his family.
“When the town is closed, Gary is not closed,” he said. “Seventeen years is a long time to do this and it has come to the point now where I have four grandchildren and my wife would like me to go to things with her. I missed out on a lot of things when my own kids were growing up and now I don’t want to miss out on my grandchildren.”
Hudes said while running for re-election in 2013 that he got into politics because he loved helping people, and that he enjoyed being “at the bottom of the totem pole,” where he could spend more time speaking directly with his constituents.
In May, at his “mobile office” in Wantagh, where he listened to constituents’ concerns, he told the Herald, “Long before I held office, more than 15 years ago, I was a community activist, working on many projects throughout the town to improve the residential and business community. I always found it beneficial to sit down and meet with people individually, and to have meaningful discussions on community issues.”
The Herald endorsed Hudes for re-election to the council in 2013, stating that he had “worked tirelessly to respond to the needs of his constituents … personally visiting residents to answer their complaints rather than talking on the phone.”
Messages from local political figures, praising Hudes for his service and wishing him well, began to trickle out last week.
“Gary has been an effective voice for the residents whom he represents on the Hempstead Town Board,” said Town Supervisor Anthony Santino. “He has improved the local quality of life for neighbors by combating graffiti, working to revitalize our downtowns and championing community beautification projects. He has been a great friend as well as a thoughtful legislator, and his presence on the Town Board will be missed.”
Levittown Democrat Matt Hynes, who ran against Hudes in 2009, said in a statement on Monday that he wished his former opponent all the best. “The campaign was fun, and I learned a lot,” Hynes said. “It was fun to run against Gary, who was incredibly popular. While I hate town politics and disagree with Gary on the issues, he is a good human and does care greatly for his family. I wish the man well.”
In addition to owning Gennaro Jewelers, Hudes has been a president of the Bellmore Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Nassau Council of Chamber of Commerce, which represents the interests of 6,000 small businesses, according to the Town of Hempstead website. There, Hudes instituted a community partnership with Hofstra University that established an education program for small businesses.
In Bellmore, he spearheaded the pilot program for downtown revitalization. Hudes was also selected as the New York State Small Business Advocate of the Year by former Gov. George Pataki.
Hudes said that serving residents of Wantagh, Seaford, Bellmore, Merrick, Levittown, East Meadow and Bethpage has been a tremendous honor. He thanks his constituents and members of his staff for making his time in government memorable.
“I’ve given 110 percent my whole time I was with the town,” he said. “My goal was to bring customer service to the town, which is what I think I did. Now, it’s time for the lone ranger to ride off into the sunset.”