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Valley Stream’s James kicks off 3rd Council District campaign

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Valley Streamer Shari James hugged a supporter at her campaign kickoff on Saturday. She will be running in November for the Town of Hempstead 3rd Council District against Bruce Blakeman.
Valley Streamer Shari James hugged a supporter at her campaign kickoff on Saturday. She will be running in November for the Town of Hempstead 3rd Council District against Bruce Blakeman.
Peter Belfiore/Herald

Valley Stream resident Shari James this Saturday officially kicked off her campaign for the Town of Hempstead’s 3rd Council District seat at her headquarters on South Franklin Avenue.

James, who is running on the Democratic Party line against incumbent Republican Bruce Blakeman, was joined by Democratic 6th Legislative District candidate Laura Burns as well as Democratic Town Supervisor Laura Gillen and Democratic County Executive Laura Curran along with nearly 30 supporters.

Introducing herself to the crowd, James, 35, touted her financial background working on Wall Street, and her roughly five years in government, first for the City of Long Beach and then as deputy comptroller for Nassau County. She now runs her own private tax consultancy firm in Valley Stream.

“One thing I’ve come to know for sure, is that nothing [in government] happens by accident,” she said. “What we see today is not by accident. The corruption on Long Island doesn’t just happen. The rising taxes at unsustainable levels, that doesn’t just happen. The rundown parks, the unfilled potholes and deplorable road conditions don’t just happen. So I’m running because I believe in the possibility of better accountability.”

James will be on the ballot alongside Gillen in November, who in 2017 was the first Democrat to be elected Hempstead Town supervisor in more than a century, and who after a contentious first two years in office, is seeking another term.

“Imagine all the good things we could do if we just had good people who want to make things better in this town and actually put the town to work for the taxpayers, instead of having taxpayers work to keep everybody’s relatives in jobs in Town Hall,” Gillen told the crowd.

She has often bristled at what she describes as the practice of hiring politically connected individuals, their friends and family members to town positions, and made claims of obstruction by the Town Council’s Republican majority over issues such as contract approvals and the streamlining of Town Hall processes.

In addition to Gillen, James and Burns, former Floral Park Mayor Tom Tweedy, a Republican who is running as a Democrat for the 2nd Council District was present at the kickoff. He will be running in November against Tom Muscarella who was appointed to the seat in April after the resignation of Councilman Edward Ambrosino upon his guilty plea to tax evasion.

“Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen tried to hike your taxes, voted against a tax cut, and now she needs Shari James to support her tax-hiking agenda on the Town Board,” Nassau GOP Spokesman Mike Deery said in a statement, noting Blakeman’s accomplishments in seeking to lower taxes and his role in helping to pass the Town’s ethics code.

He is seeking his second term representing the 3rd Council District after returning to the Town Council upon his appointment to the seat in 2015. He had previously sat on the board from 1993 to 1995, and has a decades-long political career serving in various elected and appointed positions in the town, state, county and city.

“Council District Three needs a new voice and a new vision to move us forward,” James reiterated. “This is not about being Democrat, Republican or independent — although we are Democrats here — it’s simply about good government.”