The Hempstead Village municipal election has forced the mayor to defend his downtown revitalization plans against two challengers in a race in which his seat and two trustee positions are open.
Three candidates are campaigning for mayor and six are running for trustee in the March 21 election. Each term lasts four years. The mayor’s position comes with a $133,904 salary; trustees are paid $28,560, according to the village clerk.
Mayor Wayne Hall Sr. is running for his fourth term on the Working Families and Moving Forward parties with trustee incumbent candidates Waylyn Hobbs Jr. and Luis Figueroa.
Mayoral candidate Don Ryan, a current trustee with two years left in his term, is running on the Unity slate with trustee candidates LaMont Johnson and Charles Renfroe. Mayoral candidate Henry Salgado is running on the New Ideas Party with trustee candidates Darrell Garner and Sherina Lucas.
Hall, 70, has been criticized for his $2.5 billion plan to redevelop the village’s downtown. The project is to include apartment complexes and mixed-used buildings on Main Street that he says will bring much-needed revenue and jobs to Hempstead. Hall said he hasn’t been able to accomplish all of his goals during his first three terms because he was blocked by lawsuits, including one filed by Ryan that challenged tax breaks for a proposed apartment complex. A state Supreme Court judge struck down Ryan’s lawsuit in January.
“Finally, we got rid of all these lawsuits, and now we’re moving forward,” Hall said.
Ryan, 74, a retired teacher, has served as a village trustee for 15 years. He said he’s opposed to the number of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, agreements in Hempstead, including the $33 million PILOT downtown redevelopment he sued over. He said he wants to see fewer apartments in the village, and more commercial and light industry businesses in the downtown.
“I was disappointed in what I consider the mayor giving the village away,” Ryan said.
Salgado, 41, who works in community relations for the Nassau County Republican legislators, wants developers to save 75 percent of jobs for village residents — the current agreement with downtown developer Renaissance Downtowns is 25 percent — and return Hempstead to its status as a hub of the Island.
“I believe in the Village of Hempstead, I believe in the people of the Village of Hempstead,” he said. “We can do better than this.”
Garner, 43, is the son of former village Mayor James Garner and works for the county’s Human Rights Commission. He said he thinks the village needs to attract technology companies, manufacturing and high-end grocery stores to bring in career-path jobs.
“We have lost our touch,” he said. “The life has been sucked out of the village.”
Hobbs, 54, a pastor at Coney Island Cathedral and member of the village’s fire department, is running for a second trustee term. He is a former Hempstead school board member and said he supports the redevelopment in part because he wants young village residents to be able to afford to live there.
“You can come up with a plan that does not mean gentrification,” he said.
Candidates have also decried the village’s high crime rate.
Lucas, 35, is a real estate broker who said she wants to see satellite police stations across the village to reduce response time and decrease crime. She also called for police dashboard and body cameras.
“I just want to provide a better community for my children, for their children,” she said.
Johnson, 45, a retired NYPD and village police officer, and current Hempstead school board member, said he wants to increase accountability within the police department and have officers on more foot patrols.
“We have way too much crime in our village,” Johnson said.
Figueroa, 62, who is retired from Con Edison and owns a travel agency in Hempstead, said the village government and school board need to work “hand in hand.” His daughter, Melissa Figueroa, is a school board member.
Without education, kids can end up in a life of crime and “the same old, same old,” he said.
Renfroe, 72, is a retired school district employee and former school board president who owns a printing and embroidery business. Although Hall has had a largely hands-off position with the school district, Renfroe said a liaison between the village board and the board of education “can be nothing but a win-win situation.”