GOP majority in Hempstead flexes muscle in marathon meeting

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The Republican majority on the Hempstead Town Board flexed its muscle Tuesday at a marathon town meeting.

Democratic Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen was thwarted on multiple fronts by the Town Board. It first tabled Gillen's proposal to institute a special election in the event of a vacancy in an elected office.

Then, the board approved a resolution that would only allow tabled proposals to be considered again in the future if the board majority says so. 

The argument over special elections or appointments comes as Republican Hempstead Town Councilman Ed Ambrosino faces federal charges, including wire fraud and tax evasion. Ambrosino has remained on the board ever since his March 2017 arrest.

Gillen says the board’s moves are intended to box her out.

“Americans were warned of the tyranny of the majority by our Founding Fathers in the Federalist Papers. I never thought I would see it come true here in our township,” said Gillen.

The Town Board's Majority Leader Erin King Sweeney says appointments ensure that residents have a voice because they are immediate, whereas special elections can take months to organize. She acknowledges that every current Republican member of the board was initially appointed to their position, but added that there was “faux outrage” over the board’s decisions.

“When the new New York state attorney general was appointed, Supervisor Gillen actually praised her and offered her congratulations,” said King Sweeney.

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