Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, shown in December 2019, is...

Former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, shown in December 2019, is running for the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen announced her candidacy for Congress in the 4th District on Thursday, increasing the likelihood of a Democratic primary to replace Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who is not seeking reelection.

Nassau County Legis. Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury) announced her candidacy for the seat last weekend.

In 2017, Gillen became the first Democrat to win election as Hempstead Town supervisor in more than a century.

She was defeated in 2019 by Republican Donald Clavin.

"Public service is something that has been in my blood since I was young," Gillen told Newsday.

"The world has gone mad a little bit, and I think as town supervisor I showed that I am not afraid to go into the lion's den, stand up for what I believe in, stand up for what I believe the residents and the constituents need," Gillen, 52, of Rockville Centre, said.

Gillen also said she also has shown, "that I can work with the other side to build a consensus and get things done."

Jay Jacobs, Nassau and state Democratic Chairman, told Newsday that with Gillen and Bynoe both in the race, "I'm pretty sure there will be a primary, and I think that'll be a good thing for us."

Jacobs said a primary, which would take place June 28, "gives us a head start on getting the voters to gain familiarity with the various candidates and with the ultimate candidate."

Jacobs said Nassau County Legis. Carrié Solages (D-Lawrence) was interviewed by Democratic Party officials Wednesday about a possible candidacy in the 4th District.

Gillen said, if elected, she would focus on restoring the full federal deduction for state and local taxes and taking illegal guns from criminals.

"I was the first Democrat to ever get elected to town Supervisor in 112 years, and Town of Hempstead is the majority of CD-4," Gillen said. "I've won this district before, and I've won it with bipartisan support."

As Hempstead supervisor, Gillen tangled with Republican town board members who were in the majority.

Gillen set out to rid town government of what she characterized as entrenched corruption in the longtime Republican Party stronghold.

GOP board members blocked many of her initiatives.

Gillen, an attorney, has been working as an adjunct professor at Hofstra Law School since she left Hempstead Town.

Gillen said she was running for Congress, in part, because of her concerns about threats to American democracy.

"Our democracy is in a scary place," she said. "We have people going to Washington who are saying extreme outrageous things just to get themselves on TV and build up their followers on social media."

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