Underdog Candidates Say Change Is In The Air

Steve Nasta and Laura Gillen

It has been 30 years since North Hempstead’s voters elected a Republican town supervisor. Meanwhile, in Hempstead, Republican town supervisors have presided since the dawn of time.

Steve Nasta of Great Neck, the GOP nominee for North Hempstead town supervisor, and Laura Gillen of Rockville Centre, the Democrats’ choice for Hempstead town supervisor, discussed in separate interviews their families, careers, and local politics while also outlining how they are positioned to reverse these historic trends and win the top jobs in town government.

Nasta, the married father of four adult children, is looking to unseat Supervisor Judi Bosworth (D-Great Neck). Gillen, a married mother of four, is vying to oust Supervisor Anthony Santino (R-East Rockaway).

“I always had an interest in government, and helping people,” said Nasta, a Valley Stream native whose 30-plus year New York Police Department (NYPD) career included promotions to sergeant, lieutenant, and then inspector. Between 1999 and 2011, Nasta was the Chief of the Detectives’ Investigators Bureau at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. Nasta earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in criminal justice from the City University of New York’s (CUNY) John Jay College, where today he serves as an adjunct lecturer.

“I know it is an uphill battle, but I really believe I have a chance to win, or I wouldn’t have done it,” Nasta stated, referring to his first campaign for elective office.

“I hear a lot of talk about open government, and how everything’s fine,” in North Hempstead town government, Nasta continued, citing themes appearing in Democratic campaign literature. Yet Nasta wondered whether that’s a credible argument to make this year given the recent guilty plea made by North Hempstead’s former Democratic leader in a tax evasion case, the hiring of a former town supervisor’s wife to a town hall job she has since vacated, and the dissatisfaction Nasta hears from voters about the town’s building department.

Gillen is making her second bid for elective office, having run unsuccessfully for Nassau County Clerk in 2013. The Baldwin native is a graduate of Georgetown University and earned her law degree from New York University. She is today of counsel at the Uniondale office of Westerman Ball Ederer Miller Zucker & Sharfstein, LLP, with an expertise in commercial litigation. The current state of affairs at Hempstead Town Hall is on Gillen’s mind in 2017.

“Basically, we no longer have representative democracy in the town of Hempstead,” Gillen stated, pointing to Supervisor Santino’s ongoing squabbles with two elected Republican Town Board members and how in Gillen’s view the discord has adversely impacted the flow of information and allocation of resources within town government.

“I’ve been disgusted for so long with the antics at town hall,” Gillen said, when discussing why she’s running for town supervisor. “I just see that there’s a real appetite for change,” Gillen added, saying it is a running theme she’s heard from voters at various campaign stops.

Like Nasta, Gillen brings an eclectic resume to her town’s political scene. Before going to law school, Gillen studied at the Stella Adler Studio, was an agent for a leading speaker’s bureau, and worked at the late Mother Teresa’s home for the dying in Calcutta, India. While in law school, Gillen interned for a federal judge and upon graduating practiced law at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, LLP.

Nasta and Gillen have had successful educational and professional careers. The voters in North Hempstead and Hempstead will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 7, whether the title of town supervisor gets added to their resumes.

Mike Barry can be reached at mfbarry@optonline.net. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.

Mike Barry
Mike Barry, vice president of media relations for an insurance industry trade group, has worked in government and journalism. He can be reached at mfbarry@optonline.net. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.

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