North Hempstead town clerk debate turns testy for Gross, Wink

From left to right: Wayne Wink, Democratic candidate

From left to right: Wayne Wink, Democratic candidate for North Hempstead Town Clerk, and GOP candidate Leslie Gross pose for photos. (May 28, 2013, June 13, 2013) Photo Credit: Mike Stobe, Howard Schnapp

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A sparring match between the incumbent North Hempstead town clerk and the Nassau County legislator who wants her job brought heat to a political debate among candidates seeking town and county offices.

During the Manhasset debate, held Wednesday night by the League of Women Voters of Port Washington-Manhasset, Town Clerk Leslie Gross, a Democrat running as a Republican, touted her education and experience as reasons to keep the position she has held since 2007.

But Wayne Wink, who is losing his legislative seat through redistricting, argued that the clerk's office needed to be better at working with other town departments and making local records more accessible, and criticized Gross for running on the Tax Revolt line.

"That's the local equivalent of the tea party," Wink, a Democrat, said. "That doesn't jibe with the concept of Leslie being a Democrat."

Gross later fired back at Wink, pointing out that he had sought several other elected positions, including county comptroller, before running for town clerk.

"I don't think he really knows what he wants to do," she said, adding that Wink had introduced her at an event last February as "the best town clerk the town has ever had."

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"I may have said she's the best clerk that the town has ever had -- but I will be a better clerk," Wink parried.

Joseph Wood, who is running for town clerk on the Conservative line, was omitted from the debate due to an oversight, according to the league.

Town supervisor candidates Judi Bosworth, a Democrat, and Dina De Giorgio, a Republican, also faced off at the debate, fielding varied questions about the building department, town debt and consensus-building across the aisle.

"I believe experience really does count when you're dealing with taxpayer money and large and complex budgets," Bosworth, a Nassau County legislator, said. "I'm proud to offer that experience to the town."

De Giorgio, a town councilwoman since 2012, said the town had been run for the Democratic Party, not residents, and argued she would change that.

"I have the most independent voting record on the town board," she said. "You should not mistake my questioning and challenging and researching as being partisan."

The debate also featured matches between town councilwoman Lee Seeman and her opponent, lawyer Jeff Benjamin, and candidates seeking the Nassau County legislative District 11 seat.

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