The race for the Town of Hempstead 6th Councilmatic District pits Republican Dennis Dunne Sr., of Levittown, against Democrat Matthew Galante, who is making his first foray into politics.
Before his appointment to the seat in 2017, Dunne was a Nassau County legislator in the 15th District. Galante is an attorney specializing in finance, real estate and corporate transactions.
The Herald asked both candidates a series of questions to get their views on the issues.
Herald: Coming out of Covid, where do you see most help needed in the 6th District and how can you help?
Dunne: Helping small business and families to cope with the Covid pandemic is critical as we work to conquer the deadly virus. In an effort to help business, our Town Board made provisions for outdoor dining, and I distributed PPE kits to local businesses. In an effort to help families, Supervisor Don Clavin and I provided Covid tests and vaccines, pop-up food pantries, funding to hospitals, public schools and colleges, air filters to vulnerable senior citizens and more. While the future remains uncertain, our town is poised to meet whatever areas of need may emerge.
Galante: Our top priorities must be (1) helping people financially affected by the Pandemic stay in their homes and (2) promoting our local businesses. By cutting waste, fraud, and corruption, we can provide more extensive aid and services, such as legal aid, to residents to help them stay in their homes. The Town should also expand efforts to promote local businesses by cutting red tape, encouraging people to shop local, and working hand-in-glove with local businesspeople to hear and address their concerns.
Herald: How can you best help the South Shore from the ramifications of severe weather and global warming?
Dunne: Hempstead Town leads the way in green initiatives including the use of electric vehicles, our award-winning solar energy park, and the Norman Levy Park and Preserve. Our government has conducted an energy audit, which has resulted in the conversion of tens of thousands of streetlights to LED elements, which require half of the energy to operate. Hempstead Town facilities are subject to the same energy audit and lighting conversions. What's more, the Town has announced an initiative to convert its fleet of automobiles to electric vehicles over time.
Galante: We need to secure greater State and federal aid to retrofit and reinforce our residential and commercial buildings against severe weather. We also need to coordinate with residents, using zoning as appropriate, to discourage building in and encourage relocation from heavily affected areas.
Herald: What is the most pressing issue facing the 6th District?
Dunne: The most pressing issue facing all Long Islanders is the crushing burden of property taxes. I am proud to have voted to cut taxes for two consecutive years, I worked to freeze taxes last year, and I am proud to present a tax cut budget alongside Supervisor Don Clavin this year. At the same time, our government is investing its resources where it matters most. We are dedicating $75 million for road resurfacing and $10 million to upgrade local parks. We are demonstrating that you can reduce the tax burden while providing important services to the public.
Galante: Long-term, our number one issue is housing costs. It is too expensive to live in the District because of high property taxes, high rents, and high mortgage costs. We need to cut property taxes, working with the State, as necessary, to limit School taxes. Attacking corruption will also save us money so we can lower Town taxes. We also need to encourage mixed use development, especially along Hempstead Turnpike, so that seniors and young people can stay in the communities they love.