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Laura Gillen sworn in as Hempstead Town supervisor

Laura Gillen was sworn in Monday, Jan. 1,

Laura Gillen was sworn in Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, as Hempstead Town's first Democratic supervisor in more than a century. (Credit: Newsday / Chris Ware)

Laura Gillen was sworn in Monday morning as Hempstead Town’s first Democratic supervisor in more than a century.

Gillen unseated Republican incumbent Anthony Santino on Nov. 7 in a surprise victory in a town that has been a Long Island GOP stronghold for decades.

“I promise to watch over this town and be the honest steward that you trusted me to be,” Gillen said in her remarks at the Hofstra University ceremony.

Gillen’s inauguration was attended by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, incoming Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Republican Hempstead Town Councilmen Bruce Blakeman and Edward Ambrosino, as well as other local elected officials.

“Laura Gillen, do you know what you’ve gotten yourself into?” Hochul said to laughter. The lieutenant governor noted that 2017 was the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York.

Incoming Town Clerk Sylvia Cabana, who said she is the town’s first Latina clerk, was also sworn in on Monday and credited women and minorities to propelling her to victory.

“It is an honor and a privilege to embark on this journey” with Gillen, Cabana said. Gillen, 48, won in a race that pitted her against Santino, a member of the town board since 1993 and supervisor for the past two years. Santino resigned early from his position last week to take a $160,000 job as an administrative assistant at the Nassau County Board of Elections.

“Today we make history, but tomorrow begins the work to make the change that we all want to see,” said Nassau Legis. Siela Bynoe, a Democrat who was the master of ceremonies.

Hundreds in the audience gave Gillen and Cabana multiple standing ovations.

“Initially, there were very few who thought this would be possible,” Gillen said, noting that she had no campaign contributions, few staff members and no office in the beginning.

She pledged to work with the town board’s five Republicans and vowed to improve the government’s efficiency, transparency and accountability. The town board had been plagued with infighting among its Republicans for months as Blakeman and Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney challenged Santino over ethics reform.

“Town government should never be about partisan politics,” she said, thanking Republicans Blakeman and Sweeney, who was on vacation Monday and could not attend the swearing-in, for their support during the contentious campaign.

Blakeman, who crossed party lines to endorse Gillen, addressed her “on behalf of the Republican majority” on the town board.

“We want to offer our congratulations to Laura and Sylvia, and we wish you the best and we look forward to working with you,” Blakeman said.

Republican town board members Dennis Dunne Sr. and Anthony D’Esposito, as well as Democrat Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, will be sworn in Tuesday at Town Hall. They did not attend Gillen’s inauguration, though Goosby was listed as a member of her transition team on the ceremony’s program.

Gillen will head a divided town board come Tuesday. She already made waves by holding her swearing-in separately from the other town board members, though she has said hers was not on town time or at taxpayer expense.

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