The swearing-in ceremony for Hempstead’s first Democratic town supervisor in more than a century and three incumbent council members will be open to the public Jan. 2, officials said.
But town officials said space could be limited because family and friends have been invited to attend.
Town board members voted 5-2 Tuesday to cancel the board meeting scheduled Jan.2 at the same time as an induction ceremony for Supervisor-elect Laura Gillen, Democratic Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Republican Councilmen Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne.
Instead, the board rescheduled the meeting for Jan. 9 in what will be the new board’s first session.
Town Attorney Joe Ra said invitations for the 10 a.m. induction ceremony will be issued for up to five council members and their relatives, which “generally fills the room” of the Town Hall chambers. He said if there is no room for the public, they can watch from hallway video monitors or in an online video stream.
Goosby opposed rescheduling the induction or the meeting, saying the swearing-in was reserved for council members and their family and friends.
Town spokesman Mike Deery and Gillen said Wednesday that the inauguration ceremony would be open to the public just as it has been in years past. Gillen, who did not attend Tuesday’s town board meeting, said later that day, “I will invite whoever I want, including the public.”
“While I too would love to be celebrating with my family and friends, we were elected by the people to do their business, and that is exactly what we should be doing on January 2nd at the regularly scheduled board meeting,” Gillen said in a written statement. “Under my administration, Town Hall is going to see daylight for the first time in over 100 years, and you better believe that means every taxpaying citizen who we are supposed to serve is invited to the Town’s inauguration.”
Councilman Bruce Blakeman had proposed moving the induction ceremony to Camp Anchor in Lido Beach to include the public and then reschedule the town board meeting for the evening.
“It’s for us and our relatives,” Goosby said. “In the evening we’re going to party. I don’t know why we should change it just because she wants to change it. We should have it [the induction] at 10 a.m. because that’s what I’m accustomed to, and that’s the way it’s been done in the past.”
During public comment, Baldwin resident Meta J. Mereday told Goosby that the board was not aiding in Gillen’s transition, citing a statement of support by Nassau County Republican Chairman Joseph Mondello.
“Some people are acting like sore losers, even when they’ve been re-elected,” Mereday said.
Goosby initially called for town security to remove Mereday when she refused to stop speaking after her time was finished, but town security officers did not intervene.