New supervisor also picks executive team
As one of her first official personnel moves, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen appointed Councilman Bruce Blakeman of Atlantic Beach as deputy supervisor.
Blakeman, a lifelong Republican and native of Valley Stream, served on the Hempstead Town Board from 1993 to 1995, before serving as presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature from 1996 through 1999. Blakeman returned to public service in 2015.
In October, weeks before the election, Blakeman crossed party lines to endorse Gillen, a Democrat. He had been feuding with incumbent Supervisor Anthony Santino, who was seeking his second full term.
Gillen then pulled off an upset on Election Day, becoming the first Democrat in more than 100 years to win the supervisor’s seat.
“Councilman Blakeman’s experience and skill in navigating local governments and serving his constituents is well-know,” said Gillen. “I believe Councilman Blakeman shares my vision of working together in a bipartisan manner to deliver the best results for the taxpayers.”
Blakeman, a Republican who has served as a financial and legal advisor to President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, stressed that good government transcends politics.
“Supervisor Gillen and I are sincerely interested in working together to bring greater and more comprehensive ethics reforms to the Town of Hempstead,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working with her on making the Town an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”
Blakeman’s appointment marks the first time in Hempstead’s history where a supervisor and deputy supervisor hail from different political parties.
“We’re here to do right by the people,” said Gillen. “A difference in party registration should not impede public service, but rather make it better.”
According to the town code, the office was established pursuant to the provisions of §42 of the Town Law of the State of New York. The deputy “shall be appointed by the supervisor to serve at the pleasure of the supervisor, and, in case the office of supervisor becomes vacant, or in case the supervisor shall be absent or unable to act, the deputy supervisor in office at that time shall assume all duties and obligations of the supervisor under the Code of the Town of Hempstead and the Town Law of the State of New York and shall continue in such capacity until a new supervisor shall assume office or the absent or incapacitated supervisor shall return to office. This shall include, but not be limited to, the power to preside at meetings of the Town Board. In his capacity as such, the Deputy Supervisor shall have no vote on matters coming before the Town Board.”
Gillen also made the following appointments in the Office of the Supervisor, all of whom were unanimously approved by the town board at the Jan. 9 meeting:
Jim LaCarrubba, former director of Operations in the City of Long Beach, will serve as Gillen’s chief of staff and be tasked with overseeing the town’s daily operations and functions.
LaCarrubba, who also served as commissioner of Public Works in Long Beach and as senior advisor for Resiliency and Recovery, has over a decade of municipal experience on Long Island. Previously, LaCarrubba served in the Town of Brookhaven as commissioner of Parks and Recreation, and Aviation and Transportation, before rising to become deputy supervisor.
“Gillen has made it clear that our job is restore honesty, accountability and transparency to a town that has spent the better part of its history hidden from public view,” said LaCarrubba. “We’re going to clean up the mess left by the prior administration, and turn Town Hall into a model of efficiency on Long Island.”
LaCarrubba will be joined by three executive assistants, each charged with overseeing and interacting daily with the town’s various departments, in order to ensure a smooth and seamless workflow.
Rebecca Sinclair, partner at CDS Energy Partners LLC, a Syosset-based consulting firm providing operations and business development services to growing companies in the clean energy, innovative technology and disaster recovery sectors, will serve as executive assistant for Service Delivery and Quality of Life. Sinclair has a background in urban planning and a record of success working on large-scale public projects all across New York State. Previously, Sinclair served as both city planner and neighborhood planner in Albany, as well as managing director in the New York State Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.
Joseph Davenport, chief sanitary engineer in the Nassau County Department of Public Works, will be Gillen’s executive assistant for Infrastructure. Davenport, who has over 30 years of engineering experience, previously served as deputy commissioner of Public Works in Nassau County.
Adam Haber, appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo as the former director of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA)—where he helped reign in Nassau County’s reckless spending and borrowing habits—will serve as executive assistant for Economic Development and Government Efficiency.
Averil Smith, comptroller in the Town of North Hempstead where she oversees and performs audits on multi-million dollar budgets, will be Gillen’s director of Finance. Smith is a certified public accountant with over 20 years experience in the field accounting. Smith cut her teeth by performing audits on some of the largest foreign and domestic companies in the world.
Mike Fricchione, executive vice president of Todd Shapiro and Associates—a Garden City based public relations firm—will serve as press secretary. Fricchione has a decade of public relations experience, handling the day-to-day communications for a multitude of municipalities, government leaders and NGOs in every region of the state, including locally in the Village of Freeport.
Matthew Hynes, former chief of staff for New York State Senator John Brooks and special projects manager for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), will serve as senior advisor for Constituent Affairs, working to improve quality of life for community groups, leaders and everyday residents in every corner of the Town of Hempstead.
More recently, Gillen has hired Mitch Pitnick as her counsel. He resigned as North Hempstead’s chief deputy town attorney on Jan. 8.
She also added Cheryl Rice as one of her three secretaries. Rice is the widow of a brother of Rep. Kathleen Rice, and served as a district director for the congressman.
“My administration will be comprised of some of the best and the brightest—consummate professionals who are leaders in their industries and have achieved success both inside and outside of government,” said Gillen. “Our administration will approach Town Hall with a clean pair of hands.”