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Wayne Wink for North Hempstead supervisor

Wayne Wink, Jr., Democratic candidate for North Hempstead

Wayne Wink, Jr., Democratic candidate for North Hempstead Town Supervisor. Credit: James Escher

North Hempstead is the answer to the question: "Which Nassau County town is deploying five goats, whose alternative path was a slaughterhouse, to tackle the problem of poison ivy in its parks?" Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the solution is environmentally friendly, and the rescued goats will get "quite the smorgasbord" chewing the underbrush. "It’s a win-win," said Bosworth, who is leaving after four terms.

North Hempstead has a strong financial balance sheet and muted controversies. Its events programs rival those offered on cruise ships. So, it's not surprising that the race to succeed Bosworth reflects the town’s prevailing tone. Jennifer S. DeSena, 52, a registered Democrat from Manhasset who is executive director of the area’s Community Coalition Against Substance Abuse, is running on the Republican line. It’s her first run for elected office. Democratic candidate Wayne H. Wink Jr., 54, of Roslyn, is finishing his second term as town clerk, having previously served on the town board and, before that, in the Nassau County legislature.

Wink, chair of the town task force holding hearings on whether North Hempstead should opt out of a state law allowing retail sales and on-site consumption of marijuana, doesn’t have an official position yet. However, he is inclined to allow sales from stores tucked away in industrial areas. Wink said if there is a ban, residents could drive a few minutes to Queens or nearby towns to buy pot, depriving North Hempstead of the tax revenue for enforcement, education and treatment programs.

DeSena, who has done much of her community work making parents more aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol abuse to teens, opposes any recreational-use sale of pot in the town. She fears easy availability will increase underage use and especially cause older teens to drive under the influence.

Both candidates agree that fixing the town’s beleaguered building department is the top priority because red tape hinders small businesses from prospering and outrages homeowners who spend years trying to get routine permits. Wink says he'll streamline the process and limit "historical review" of new applications, so seeking a new fence doesn’t require going back decades to review homeowner compliance in myriad categories.

DeSena had few specifics on how to change the notorious bureaucracy, and a slim understanding of how government works.

Wink has detailed knowledge of how the town works and a specific plan to reform the permitting process. But he must be bold enough to put it into place.

Newsday endorses Wink.

ENDORSEMENTS ARE DETERMINED solely by the Newsday editorial board, a team of opinion journalists focused on issues of public policy and governance. Newsday’s news division has no role in this process.