by John Asbury
Anthony J. Santino, Hempstead Town’s first new supervisor in a dozen years, was sworn in Tuesday, vowing to put his own stamp on local government as a fiscal conservative.
Santino led the new slate of town officials sworn in by the town board in an elaborate ceremony at Town Hall that included Nassau County, Hempstead officials, Republican Party leaders and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford).
The town board also swore in incumbents to new terms, including re-elected Councilman Ed Ambrosino and newly elected councilmembers Erin King Sweeney and Bruce Blakeman, who had been appointed last year to replace retiring board member Angie Cullin and James Darcy, who left for a judgeship. The board is 5-1 Republican, with Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby as the lone Democrat.
Officials also swore in re-elected Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin and Town Clerk Nasrin Ahmad.
The new administration did not include new faces — Santino was senior councilman under outgoing Supervisor Kate Murray — but Santino said he will put his own touch on town government while practicing the policies that he helped set in motion in his former role.
Santino served 30 years with the town, including 22 years as a town councilman. He was elected by nearly 60 percent of the vote in November and took over for Murray, who lost her bid in November for Nassau County district attorney.
“Kate left us with a legacy of performance that challenges us to do even better, and, frankly, it will be a tough standard to beat,” Santino said. “Change comes to every community . . . So the challenge is how do you manage change?”
Santino urged embracing the community’s diversity to deter discrimination. He noted actress Amy Schumer facing anti-Semitism growing up on Long Island and said Hempstead strikes down discrimination by celebrating its multicultural heritage.
Santino also said the town board should give fair consideration and a critical eye to proposals and developments presented to the town board.
“But we should not let knee-jerk Nimby-ism stifle proposals and projects that should play a vital role in our town’s future,” Santino said. “But we must remember that virtually every new government project or initiative requires tax dollars to pay for it.”
Santino also said that town leadership would also show the courage to say no, in addition to controlling spending.
“Taxpayers can rest assured that I ran for this office as a fiscal conservative and that I will govern from this office as a fiscal conservative,” Santino said.
The town board will leave Santino’s council seat vacant until a new council member is appointed this month on an interim basis until a November special election.