Rita Kestenbaum (D)
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, Rita Kestenbaum visited with the editors and the publisher at Anton Media Group to share her campaign agenda to earn election as the next Town of Hempstead Supervisor on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Kestenbaum has dozens of years experience as a civic leader and local volunteer on many committees and with many organizations including as president of her synagogue, a crisis center board member and Bellmore PTA president.
“I can connect with anybody in the town and because I have served in town hall, I know what’s going on,” said Kestenbaum. She served as town councilwoman from 1999-2000. She was warned by fellow party affiliates that “a Democrat can’t win in the town.” Much to her surprise, she won that year.
“I’m not very political, I mean I read the newspaper, I watch, I’m informed and educated, but I wouldn’t say I’m a local Democrat; I don’t hold any titles in the party,” said Kestenbaum. She supports diversity and would like to see a town board made up of a fair representation of the town population including minorities.
“I’m running with this blended ticket and it’s fabulous because we have to make sure that all people are represented in the town,” Kestenbaum said.
“When your child is killed by a gun, the gun issue takes you on,” said Kestenbaum. “I didn’t search to become a common-sense gun advocate; you get thrown into it.” Kestenbaum’s daughter and her daughter’s best friend were both murdered in 2007 by a college roommate’s suicidal boyfriend, who then turned the gun on himself. Kestenbaum said there have been 45 school shootings to-date this year alone. “I’m not an anti-gun advocate.” Although she said she is for smarter gun control. “I didn’t choose this for my life, but I choose to live it with grace.” Guns are one of the issues Kestenbaum would like to continue to address if elected as supervisor.
Youth Issues and Heroin
“The safety of our youth is critical and heroin is an epidemic,” said Kestenbaum. “When I talk to parents in Bellmore, everyone says, ‘Oh, no not my kid.’” She said the town lacks attention toward youth issues and said she has attempted in the past to initiate a youth board, but said it was voted down by town officials. Kestenbaum would like to initiate a town youth board, and have town youth included on the board.
Hub And Coliseum Area
“As councilwoman in 1999, we knew the Coliseum was falling apart and the Hub area had to be dealt with…fast-forward 15 years and we still have a Hub problem with nothing happening; we’re at a negative and as a matter of fact, we’ve lost all of our jobs at the Coliseum and we’ve lost our one major sports team, the New York Islanders.” She said realistically she cannot bring the Islanders back because of their residency contract at Barclays in Brooklyn, but she would look at other ways to revitalize the Coliseum area.
Kestenbaum said she is fully prepared to take on the roll as town supervisor.
“Friends and foes ask all of the time, ‘Rita, do you think you can do this?’ and I do; the supervisor does exactly that—supervises,” said Kestenbaum. “We have a commissioner that runs the parks department; I’m not going to come in and have to run a parks department, I’m going to supervise it.”
She said the county may be a Republican stronghold, but New York is a Democratic state.
“I’m not going to get in there and fire everybody and replace them with cronies from the Democratic party who are not suitable to run these departments,” she added. “These departments are a stronghold and as far as I can tell they look like they’re doing a great job.”
Visit www.ritakestenbaum.com for more of Kestenbaum’s up-to-date campaign information.