HED: Aaron Meyer challenges Anthony D’Esposito in District 4 race
The race for the Town of Hempstead 4th Council District is set between incumbent republican Anthony D’Esposito and democratic challenger Aaron Meyer.
The Herald asked both candidates questions tackling the candidates’ priorities and issues in the district, which encompasses East Rockaway, Hewlett, Island Park, South Hempstead, Oceanside, and Rockville Centre and portions of Baldwin, Cedarhurst, Lynbrook, Malverne, Valley Stream, and Woodmere.
Herald: Many local businesses took a financial hit during the Coronavirus pandemic and have suffered from staffing shortages. What more can be done to help local business?
D’Esposito: In spring of 2020, alongside Supervisor Don Clavin, I spearheaded the region’s first outdoor dining initiative – waiving fees and expediting the process to allow and expand outdoor dining. We saved restaurant owners thousands in fees and helped keep their doors open. Many Villages followed our lead and thousands of restaurants are participating in this program which has been extended to the fall of 2022. Using CARES funding, we worked with local Chamber of Commerce to distribute thousands of PPE kits to small businesses which assisted them in keeping employees and customers safe. As Co-Chairman of the Town of Hempstead COVID-19 Taskforce, I was part of Supervisor Clavin’s Economic Advisory Council – a group of leaders in business, industry, higher education, healthcare, and community – together we created strategy to help business and neighbors navigate through the pandemic.
Meyer: A lot more can be done to help local businesses, which should be the Town's priority. Whether that means starting by designating Town personnel to work directly with small business to tasking the Hempstead Industrial Development Agency to evaluate rental and/or tax relief available under section 862 of the General Municipal Law, or any number of other options available, nothing will happen until local businesses are treated as the priority they should be. With respect to staffing shortages, that can't be solved without rectifying our housing shortage, which in turn means the Town and its IDA have an obligation to promote construction that will keep our younger generation here, especially and pointedly our growing differently abled community, who must be able to commute from their homes to their jobs. Two-story garden-style apartment buildings can be prioritized in keeping with existing zoning and built to be affordable for the rising generation of younger Long Islanders and those who will come next. It's absurd to expect people to travel long distances in order to collect low hourly wages.
Herald: What are some of your top priorities going forward if re-elected/elected?
D’Esposito: Tax relief, keeping our communities safe and providing top-notch constituent services have been and remain my priorities.
For the last three years, I have helped draft and implement either a tax CUT or tax FREEZE budget. I will support Supervisor Don Clavin’s 2022 proposed tax CUT budget. I have worked hard since 2016 to improve roads, facilities and expand programs. I remain proud to join colleagues in dedicating over $75 million to roads and infrastructure projects, over $10 million in park improvements and continue to make the communities I represent along our shoreline, more resilient in the face of future storms. Since the day I took office, I remain committed to providing tax relief, delivering top-notch services and doing more for Town of Hempstead neighbors.
As Co-Chair of the COVID-19 taskforce, I took all I’ve learned as a NYPD Detective and Chief of the Island Park Fire Department to keep my neighbors safe. We have funded the testing of thousands for COVID-19, provided PPE kits for local business, allocated millions of meals for those in need, delivered aid to first responders, put COVID-19 vaccinations in arms of homebound seniors and our VAX-Mobile has provided over 7,000 free vaccines. Since 2017, I have brought my Opioid Forum and Narcan Training to every corner of the Town of Hempstead and promise to distribute 10,000 lifesaving kits by the end of 2021. I have an excellent working relationship with fire departments, EMS agencies, Nassau County and Village Police Departments – working together to keep us all safe.
Meyer: The three hallmarks of my candidacy have been, from the start, bringing about transparency, accountability and representation. So, my overall priority is to be the catalyst for the Town Board to be transparent, which in turn will force it to be accountable and thereby represent the people who live here. That means actual discussion and debate of all proposed resolutions, on the record, with actual dialogue with residents who are there to comment. No more hiding behind minimal legal requirements for notice to residents, dumping resolutions days before meetings, or 7-0 vote after 7-0 vote.
I want to end no-show jobs and expect our hardworking Town employees to be found working at their stated jobs – not doing political work, not being diverted to VIPs, and certainly not driving around Councilmembers. The budget shows that we have enough personnel, and I will not tolerate all the work being forced upon some employees. They earned their jobs – and keep them – by their hard work, not for any political reasons.
I will see the animal shelter audited fully, and accountability established from top to bottom, with an emphasis on proactive measures like Trap Neuter Return for the growing feral cat population, and expansion of adoption and other services.
I will continue to stand against luxury overdevelopment, even as I work hard to help create housing that is affordable for people who want to keep living here.
And I will work to ensure that schoolchildren get sufficient funding irrespective of where they live. It is disgraceful to see the Town hoard federal CARES money when children in lower income areas should have received computers and internet access when their schools were shuttered by the pandemic. I will be accountable to my district and its voters, but as a Councilmember, that cannot be an excuse to let others suffer.
Herald: Why would you be a better fit for the position than your opponent?
D’Esposito: Since 2016, I have worked each day to provide top-notch services to the 4th Councilmanic District all while providing tax relief, expanding programs, beautifying parks and beaches and keeping us safe. My grandfather always told me to “leave things better than you found them.” It is advice that I have embraced as a NYPD Detective, Island Park Fire Chief, friend, family member and part of my community. Each day I go to bed with hopes that I left the Town of Hempstead better than I found it. I have reached across the political aisle to work with Democrats and Republicans to deliver quality results. I cherish the relationships I have established with spiritual leaders, Mayors, law enforcement, fire service and more – relationships that serve as a benefit to those I represent, relationships that cannot be duplicated. The choice is clear. I have support from Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, Independents and others because they recognize that I work hard every day to serve them.
Meyer: At the risk of sounding egotistical, I don't believe you'll find many candidates like me. I'm not a politician. I don't come from a political family. I don't like anything about politics. I believe in civic duty, in the responsibility of people to stand up in a democracy and run for office if they have the ability to do so. I'm an attorney, a research, analyst, author, and many other things, but above all what I do is, I think. I read everything, analyze it, and look for solutions that will benefit others. It sounds naïve even to me, but I manage to accomplish a similar dynamic as a successful attorney. Those skills, whether involving close analysis of documents to spot discrepancies or knowing how to negotiate with a variety of persons and organizations, can be squarely brought to bear and make the Town fully accountable to its residents. And underneath it all, in the core of my being, is an inability to simply go along with things if they are not right. I have no entanglements, no obligations to anyone or any organization. And so, I can say with a straight face that my motives here are pure, and I will fight for the residents of the 4th district first, last, and always. And so, for everyone who will no longer accept business as usual in the Town, I am the better fit.
Lives in: Island Park
Career: NYPD Detective (retired)
Political Experience: Town of Hempstead Councilman (2016-present)
Lives in: Oceanside
Career: Attorney, author, researcher, academic, public speaker, consultant
Political experience: First time candidate
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