DeSena, Kaiman spar again in meet-and-greet ahead of Election Day

DeSena, Kaiman spar again in meet-and-greet ahead of Election Day
Supervisor Jennifer DeSena, left, and ex-Supervisor Jon Kaiman, right. (Photo courtesy of the candidates)

North Hempstead Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena and Democrat challenger Jon Kaiman clashed sharply ahead of election day at a candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters Port Washington-Manhasset. 

The two candidates disagreed over the benefits of DeSena’s $10 million tax cut in her 2024 budget proposal, Kalman’s previous tax record during his time as town supervisor and improving the town’s building department, among other things.

DeSena, of Manhasset, is running for a second two-year term after being the first Republican nominee to claim the supervisor post in more than 30 years, succeeding Democrat Judi Bosworth, who did not seek re-election.

Prior to public service, DeSena was the executive director of the Manhasset Coalition Against Substance Abuse and previously was an enforcement attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Kaiman, of Great Neck, has served as the Suffolk County Deputy Executive since 2017 under Democrat Executive Steve Bellone, who is term-limited and not seeking re-election. Kaiman also was supervisor of North Hempstead from 2004 through 2013 before being appointed by then Gov. Andrew Cuomo to serve as a special adviser on Superstorm Sandy and is a former chair of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. 

DeSena defended her budget proposal and pushed back against the notion that her $163.9 million tentative budget for next year would include service cuts.

DeSena said the proposal maintains town services, 13 out of 18 departments saw increases and the five that saw decreases were due to personnel changes leading to a decrease in salaries or one-time appropriations from last year not being included. 

“This is a statement that people have been saying,” DeSena said. “I did not cut any services at all.”

Kaiman said a budget hole totaling approximately $11 million has been created from a shortage in revenues to cover expenditures. Kaiman went on to say dipping into reserves can provide relief but is not sustainable long term. 

“Inevitably, there is no way to have a budget like this that looks beyond this year,” Kaiman said. 

The North Hempstead Town Board has a voting day set for Thursday, Nov. 2 to approve next year’s budget. The seven-member town board can make amendments to the proposal prior to Nov. 2. 

Kaiman again defended his tax record during his time as supervisor, a major topic that has been the target of political mailers and advertisements, saying of the nine budgets he voted on, five of them had no tax increase and four had increases of $6, $7.50, $15 and $16 on average for North Hempstead households.

DeSena said her claims of Kaiman raising taxes approximately $20 million, or 44%, during his time as supervisor are publicly sourced. Advertisements against Kaiman and his tax record are cited by North Hempstead’s comprehensive annual finance report.

When asked about streamlining building department operations, Kaiman said permits are being delayed and costs increase because of it for businesses. The Democrat said he would propose adding plan examiners, building inspectors and go digital where possible. 

“I will take responsibility to find out what the problem is,” Kaiman said. “I would go to the stakeholders, civic leaders and the community to find out the challenges they are facing.”

DeSena said not a day goes by where doesn’t hear a complaint from constituents on the building department, saying she is holding the building department accountable after the town refused to do so for the last 15 years.

The supervisor added that the town’s 311 service, implemented by Kaiman, can sometimes be a wall between constituents and the building department, slowing the process down. 

“We need to hold people more accountable in the building department,” DeSena said. “I have held some people accountable and I will continue to do more.”

Nassau County Comptroller Elaine Philips is still auditing the town’s building department since last year, after DeSena asked for one in August 2022. In June, DeSena suspended Building Commissioner John Niewender for workplace retaliation. 

Both candidates agreed that solving the housing problem in the town is a challenge, with DeSena calling for an update to the town’s master plan and Kaiman saying new developments have to be consistent with the quality and character of its communities. 

DeSena said updating the master plan, which is nearly 35 years old, would identify areas that need to be rezoned and allow community engagement throughout the process.

“It has to be studied before we can say whether or not an area is appropriate for multifamily housing,” DeSena said in reference to looking at surrounding communities for future developments. “I believe we need to identify places where can have more affordable housing.”

Kaiman said finding options for housing is difficult because the town is “built out” and determining whether or not to increase density through housing needs to be evaluated through both the community and town. 

On increasing bipartisanship in the town, Kaiman said during his time as supervisor he held meetings with one or two Republican council members ahead of meetings to increase transparency. DeSena, who is in the minority of a seven-member board, questioned the need to have political caucuses at all in town hall and that the issues facing the town are not partisan. 

Residents of the Town of North Hempstead can vote for supervisor on Nov. 7 at their assigned polling location. Early voting will be held from Oct. 28-Nov. 5 at various locations and times.

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here