Island Vote: Hempstead in-fighting could leave opening for Dems

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HEMPSTEAD -

Political experts say Democrats have the opportunity to take advantage of political infighting in the Town of Hempstead – an area that has had Republicans in charge for 100 years. 

Last month, Rep. Peter King told News 12 Long Island that Town Supervisor Anthony Santino was "running town hall mostly like a dictatorship" – strong criticism after Santino's long public feud with King's daughter, Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney.

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Santino and King Sweeney went back and forth over the town supervisor's ethics reform, which narrowly passed after raucous town board meetings. She said an income clause in the reform package was a political hit job since it would affect her directly as an aviation attorney. 

"The Democrats have a chance to take advantage of some bad stories on both the town level and the county level," says political consultant Mike Dawidziak. 
Dawidziak says it all hinges on the Democrats being able to turn out the vote on Election Day. 

Democrat Laura Gillen, an attorney running for town supervisor, says she confident voters want a change – a fresh face and a fresh start.  

"What do I bring to the table? Disclosure. We will have complete transparency in the Town of Hempstead," Gillen told News 12. "You'll be able to evaluate how decisions are being made and if your money is being spent wisely."

Santino told News 12 that his "record speaks for itself" and that "it's not time for a change." The Republican incumbent says he's not worried about fallout from the political in-fighting. 

"There's some difference of opinion. It's healthy discourse," he said. "We're just running the town more like a business and that means more savings for taxpayers…If something's not broke don't fix it."

Election Day is Nov. 7. 

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