Herald Roundtables

Nedelka to increase transparency, accountability at town level


It’s a simple philosophy — one Lawrence Nedelka believes may best define his campaign for a seat on the Hempstead Town Council: “You can’t change how the system works, until you change who works the system.”

The Garden City Democrat wants to be a voice of dissent on the Republican-controlled town council, while also introducing some creativity to change up some things.

Transparency and accountability are high priorities for Nedelka. He hopes to form better ways for the town to communicate with its constituents. One way to achieve this would be for the town to offer its meetings on access cable channels. He’d also like to move them to nighttime, so constituents could attend meetings after work and actively participate in their local government past the election.

“It’s part of democracy,” Nedelka told reporters as part of a recent Herald Roundtable session. “It’s part of government. Have the meeting when people can come.”

Nedelka also hopes to look into Hub development within the county as a driving force for economic development. The construction and increased availability of affordable housing in the town across different thresholds would be one way this could be achieved.

“I’m talking about affordable housing so that parents, who know that their kid is smart and capable, can move out and start their own life in their own unit,” Nedelka said, “instead of living in their basement because they can’t afford to live anywhere.”

But he’s not for development everywhere, especially plans by the Las Vegas Sands who want to reinvigorate the Nassau Coliseum with a number of offerings like hotels, stores, public meeting spaces and a casino. He says he’s heard out residents there with concerns over traffic flow and quality of life around the casino, and believes there is a lack of transparency as far as how members of the town council feel about those prospects.

“Here’s a quality of life issue that a great many people don’t want,” Nedelka said. “And yet, they’re frustrated, because their elected officials — who were supposed to protect their quality of life at the town level — are ignoring it.”

The town’s budget is another issue that Nedelka would like to take a fine-tooth comb to. He pointed out that mailer costs could be minimized if the town sent out a quarterly bulletin of its programs.

In fact, it’s that kind of thinking Nedelka believes has prepared him for the job, thanks to his background between work in the private and public sectors, with a specialization in finance.

He served as the deputy commissioner of jurors in Nassau County for the state’s court system, and prepared the department’s budget. He has also served as the finance commissioner for the town, being responsible for its budget. He has worked in numerous other occupations, such as economic development.

For 50 years, Nedelka has served his community as an active-service volunteer firefighter. The best part of the job for him is the ability to make a difference in someone else’s life.

“If you can get there and put that fire out quickly, then you’re saving them the anguish of having to rebuild,” Nedelka said. “Which is certainly, in the long run, cheaper than having to replace a loved one.”

Local government’s importance does not falter with Nedelka. He sees that the issues of importance throughout the community — the so-to-say “fires” of the everyday plight, are what town council members have a duty to address.

“When you need a pothole fixed, or you need a road drainage changed, or a new program put in that can help a family that has certain needs — that’s where it’s at,” Nedelka said. “The local level.”