Town of Hempstead elects first Democratic supervisor in 100 years

Town of Hempstead elects first Democratic supervisor in 100 years
Laura Gillen celebrates with fellow democrats, following her upset victory over the Republican incumbent for Town Supervisor. They are the first ever Democrats to be elected to those positions in Hempstead. (Photo by Janelle Clausen)

Breaking through in a seemingly impregnable Republican stronghold, Laura Gillen was elected on Tuesday as the first Democrat to be Town of Hempstead supervisor in over a century.

The Rockville Centre attorney beat incumbent Anthony Santino by more than 2,000 votes. She got 50.69 percent of the 158,256 votes.

“We are going into a new era in the Town of Hempstead and I thank you for all your support,” Gillen said in her victory speech.

Sylvia Cabana, Gillen’s running mate, defeated incumbent Nasrin Ahmad for town clerk. Cabana won 50.77 percent of the 152,406 votes.

Gillen’s victory comes after she picked up Republican support during her campaign. Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman endorsed Gillen and after Republican infighting on the Town Board between Santino and him and Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney. During her speech Gillen thanked Blakeman and Sweeney for putting party aside to “do what was right for the residents of Hempstead,” and said she looks forward to working with them.

Former Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, a Republican, also  endorsed Gillen in a letter to the editor of Blank Slate Media claiming the town needed a shift from “the childish chaos and insidious cronyism” of Santino.

Gillen joined Laura Curran, elected Nassau County executive, in beating their Republican opponents. Both Democrats ran on fighting corruption; current Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and Town of Hempstead Councilman Edward Ambrosino are both facing criminal charges.

“We exposed the nepotism, the cronyism the financial mismanagement in the town and the need for a bipartisan, cordial, new Town Board that will work together and deliver the best results for the residents of the Town of Hempstead,” Gillen told News 12.

The party fought hard despite “certain circumstances” working against it during the election, Joseph Mondello, chairman of the Nassau County Republican Committee, said in a speech Tuesday night following the election results.

Without naming the indicted officials, Mondello said “there’s been many issues during this year that have caused us great contention.”

While several Republicans said the losses were disappointing, Mondello said it is a “cyclical business” and “we can’t win them all.”

“We’ve had great many victories in the Republican Party and we’re in for a great many more in the future,” Mondello said in his speech.

Update: a previous version of this article stated Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney endorsed Gillen. She showed support, but did not publicly endorse Gillen. 

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