Mayoral and trustee candidates at a Hempstead Village forum Monday night criticized current Mayor Wayne Hall’s plan for redevelopment of the downtown area and questioned his decisions in the last 12 years.

The candidates fielded questions about the downtown revitalization, tax breaks for developers, the village’s schools, crime and one mayoral hopeful’s residency.

“The village is already overcrowded as it is,” said trustee candidate Darrell Garner in reference to Hall’s plans to bring in more housing. Garner’s father, James Garner, is a former village mayor.

Hall served as village trustee before being elected mayor in 2005. Several candidates at the forum inside the recreation center at Kennedy Memorial Park argued that Hall hasn’t come through over his previous 12 years in office and shouldn’t be given another chance.

Like Garner and other trustee candidates, Hall’s mayoral opponents — Henry Salgado and current trustee Don Ryan — said Hall was wrong to include apartment buildings in the downtown redevelopment.

The candidates also criticized tax breaks for Plainview-based developer Renaissance Downtowns, which Ryan filed a lawsuit against and plans an appeal after a recent defeat in court.

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“I know that I’ll get all the shots pointed at me,” Hall said to his critics at the forum.

He said the new downtown would bring in increased tax revenue and more jobs and make the village a transit hub.

Two questions appeared to be directed at Salgado. The first, which was posed to all three mayoral candidates, was “Do you reside in the village of Hempstead?”

Voter records indicate Salgado recently lived in Bellmore. Hall said Salgado moved to the village in January.

Residents listen as mayoral and trustee candidates speak at a village forum held at Kennedy Park Recreation Center in Hempstead on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Basinger

Salgado did not answer and instead spoke about development.

The other question, posed directly to Salgado, was about media reports of his possible gang ties. “I’m not a gang member or anything like that,” Salgado said.

In a recent interview with the Spanish-language television network, Telemundo, the El Salvador immigrant said: “I got involved in a gang.”

The Hempstead Village election is set for March 21. The forum was sponsored by the Hempstead branch of the NAACP and moderated by the League of Women Voters.

With David Olson