Two Hempstead Village residents are vying for a one-year trustee seat in a race that the candidates say could determine the future of the state’s largest village.
The incumbent, Gladys Rodriguez, was appointed to a one-year term last April to fill the seat after then-trustee Don Ryan won his mayoral election. Rodriguez is running on the Unity party line against Jeffery J. Daniels, who is on the “Hempstead Now!” party line.
Rodriguez, 58, said she has lived in Hempstead for about 30 years. She is a welfare examiner for the Nassau County Department of Social Services and a vice president of Civil Service Employees Association Local 830.
Rodriguez said there is tension between the different ethnic and racial groups of the majority-minority village that she would like to help heal.
“There’s so much division between our communities,” she said. “One of my biggest wishes is to bring the community together.”
She said the village needs to do more outreach into the Latino community to ensure that those residents have a voice in their local government.
She said she would also like to improve code enforcement to clean up the village so residents can have “a beautiful community where people can be safe when they go out in the street, where there’s no crime, no potholes, no dirt in the streets.”
Daniels, 45, said he has lived in Hempstead for most of his life. He is a senior vice president and a national director for Institutional Property Advisors, a California-based real estate investment services firm.
Daniels said he is running for office because the village has been “stagnant” for decades.
“Everywhere around us has changed and moved forward,” he said. “The base of the village has moved backwards.”
He said the village needs to attract better businesses and must build its tax base without raising residents’ taxes. He added that the village’s infrastructure is only being repaired, rather than maintained before something breaks.
Daniels also said the village’s diversity should be embraced.
“I think it’s one community,” he said. “Our diversity is an asset.”