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Long IslandPolitics

Hempstead appoints former Legis. Dennis Dunne to town board

Former Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne is congratulated

Former Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne is congratulated after being appointed to the Hempstead Town Board after a vote Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The Hempstead Town Board appointed Nassau County Legislator Dennis Dunne Tuesday night to replace Gary Hudes on the council through the November election.

The board voted 5-1 to appoint Dunne to represent the 6th Council district, which covers Levittown and portions of East Meadow, Bellmore, Bethpage, Merrick, Seaford, and Wantagh.

Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby voted against the motion and said she wanted a special election to fill Hudes’ seat.

Dunne, a Republican from Levittown, resigned Monday from the legislature where he represented the 15th district and had served as a member since the body was formed in 1996.

After the vote, a group of Marine veterans stood up and shouted “Oorah!” — a show of support for Dunne, formerly the director of the Nassau County Veterans Agency and until he stepped down Monday, vice chair of the legislature’s Veterans & Senior Affairs committee. He also served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps.

In November, Dunne will to run for the seat against Democratic challenger Sue Moller.

“I have always been impressed with the Hempstead Town Board,” Dunne said after the meeting. “I want to continue the wonderful quality of life in my community. It’s government at its best.”

Councilman Bruce Blakeman, backed by Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney, nominated Dunne, 67, at the meeting.

“Dennis Dunne knows the 6th district better than anyone else in that community. He is the epitome of a local boy,” Blakeman said as he nominated the newest board member. “He has served a life of community service.”

Goosby said she did not oppose Dunne’s nomination, but objected to the board appointing him without any community input.

“I object not to the specific individual, and I believe he is very qualified to be a council member and will represent the district well,” Goosby said. “I object to the process without any input by the people of council district number six . . . This is a very undemocratic process.”

Supervisor Anthony Santino said only the governor could order a special election if the board left the seat vacant or could not reach a decision. He read a list of past appointments in North Hempstead and Long Beach.

Dunne’s appointment marks the fourth council member named to the board in the past three years.

Blakeman, King Sweeney and Anthony D’Esposito were all appointed and later elected to the board.

Hempstead Democrats running in November for the Town Board stood outside demonstrating against Dunne’s appointment before the meeting. Democratic Supervisor candidate, Laura Gillen, said during the meeting that Dunne had already been chosen by Santino before the council voted.

Gillen said before the meeting that Dunne had abandoned his legislative seat just as NIFA ordered Nassau County to cut $100 million in expenditures.

“Why is Hempstead so desperate to cling to its power to appoint someone rather than let residents elect them?” Gillen said. “Our leaders should be elected in a voting booth, not in a backroom by Santino and his cronies.”

With Stefanie Dazio

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