This year, voters in the Town of Hempstead’s 3rd Council District are faced with a difficult choice between two excellent candidates.
Valley Streamer Shari James-Pierre is a fresh face with razor-sharp intelligence, and a firm grasp on issues pertinent to the Town of Hempstead. Bruce Blakeman, from Atlantic Beach, is a political veteran with roughly 40 years of experience, a long and generally positive record and an occasional willingness to buck his party — he endorsed Democrat Laura Gillen for supervisor in 2017. For these reasons, we believe he edges out his opponent.
In the past, Blakeman has done a world of good for residents of the Five Towns and the larger county, including winning support when he was the county Legislature’s presiding officer during the 1990s for Hewlett House, the 1 in 9 Breast Cancer Resource Center, as well as a long-overdue playground at the Five Towns Community Center.
His signature project for his most recent tenure on the Town Board — an overlay district in Inwood and North Lawrence — appears to have been done properly, with built-in requirements for developers to pitch in for infrastructure funding in exchange for higher density. It will, we trust, pay dividends for those communities. We only wish that he had budgeted for the re-zone beforehand.
That being said, we have seen him advocate vehemently for issues affecting the Five Towns and Franklin Square, but he has been virtually absent in Valley Stream beyond the occasional photo op. He also seemed unnecessarily critical of Gillen’s plans to inventory town properties.
We were also disappointed in his answers regarding the town’s dysfunctional Building Department. We wonder why he is so resistant to having an independent auditor look at its operations.
James-Pierre brings budget expertise and dynamism to the race, and should voters choose her, we believe the district would be in good hands. This cycle, however, Blakeman gets the official nod from us.