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Hempstead supervisor repeats call for special elections to fill vacancies

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen has proposed holding

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen has proposed holding special elections to fill vacancies twice before. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen repeated her call Monday for legislation requiring the town to hold a public referendum on filling vacancies in elected posts through special elections instead of appointments, a proposal the Republican-controlled town board has repeatedly delayed.

Gillen has proposed the change twice, but the town board tabled the measure both times.

The five Republican board members initially were appointed to their seats. Gillen and Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, both Democrats, were elected to their seats.

The town board’s agenda for its meeting Tuesday includes a resolution that calls for a public hearing in September on “eliminating the Town Board’s power to fill vacancies by appointment in elective offices and instead grant that power to the eligible voters of the Town by requiring a special election to fill the vacancy,” according to a version of the resolution posted on the town’s website.

Tuesday’s agenda also includes a resolution that would “limit the number of times an elected official can propose an idea, such as Town-wide special elections,” according to a news release from town spokesman Mike Fricchione.

Gillen held a news conference Monday in support of the special election proposal.

“The public deserves to be heard and should, at a minimum, have a chance to voice their opinion one way or another,” Gillen said before the event.

Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the board's majority leader, said appointments are common, and that Gillen “continuously fails to address the enormous cost to taxpayers associated with holding a special election.”

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