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Bruce Blakeman takes small step away from Laura Gillen in Hempstead

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen speaks with

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen speaks with councilman Bruce Blakeman at Hempstead Town Hall on April 10. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Hempstead Town Deputy Supervisor Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who broke from his party in November to endorse Democrat Laura Gillen for supervisor, this week took a small step away from Gillen after she blasted town board Republicans as corrupt and tone-deaf.

Gillen appointed Blakeman as her deputy after she defeated incumbent Republican Anthony Santino last year to become the town’s first Democratic supervisor in a century.

But Gillen excoriated her town board colleagues in the Long Island Herald after the board’s five Republicans, including Blakeman, voted to table Gillen’s proposals for a whistleblower law and special elections whenever a board vacancy occurs.

“There is still a corrupt machine operating in the Town of Hempstead, trying to take power from the people,” Gillen told the Herald. “They’re utterly tone-deaf to the will of the people who elected them.”

She also scorned Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, the now town Republican majority leader who assisted Gillen’s campaign from the sidelines by criticizing Santino’s leadership. Gillen was quoted as saying King Sweeney is “completely a hypocrite and fraud reformer.”

And Gillen slammed Hempstead Town Tax Receiver Don Clavin, who supported legislation to prevent Gillen from editing other elected officials’ online news after she removed one of Clavins’ news releases from the town website. Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, the only other Democrat on the town board, voted with Republicans in favor of the “free speech” legislation promoted by Clavin.

Clavin, Gillen told the Herald, is one of the “machine politicians who have abused the taxpayers and used taxpayer dollars for their own relentless campaign.”

She didn’t mention Councilman Dennis Dunne, who made the motion to table Gillen’s proposals, and she also didn’t mention Blakeman by name.

But Blakeman was taken aback by Gillen’s comments.

“I think its unfortunate that the supervisor would use that kind of rhetoric, which is completely unhelpful to administering town government when the majority of members on the board as well as one of her own party members are portrayed in that manner,” Blakeman said in an interview.

King Sweeney told Newsday, “I take great personal offense that she has essentially called me a criminal. I am not a big fan of crazy. As supervisor of America’s largest township, the residents deserve class, dignity and restraint.”

Clavin declined to comment.

Gillen said in a statement, “Robbing the taxpayers of the opportunity to an open and public debate on the merits of choosing their own representatives in free and fair democratic elections, and doling out over $800,000 in raises to political appointees, is indefensible. I’m proud to have worked with the Council on many bipartisan issues this year, but refuse to shy away on debates that matter to the residents.”

A Gillen spokesman did not respond to a question about why Gillen had singled out King Sweeney and Clavin for criticism. Is it because both figure prominently in speculation as potential challengers to Gillen next year?

King Sweeney has said she has no interest in running for supervisor. Clavin too has said that he loves his job, but many expect him to run.

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