Days before holding her first town board meeting as Town of Hempstead Supervisor, Laura Gillen announced that she had appointed Republican Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman as deputy town supervisor.
Blakeman, of Atlantic Beach, broke party ranks during the 2017 election, endorsing Gillen, a Democrat, amid a series of public confrontations that pitted him and fellow Republican Councilwoman Erin King Sweeney against the former town supervisor, Anthony Santino, a Republican.
Santino lost his re-election bid, dogged by accusations of ethics violations and a lack of transparency in his administration — accusations Blakeman voiced at virtually every town board meeting in the lead-up to Gillen's election.
"Councilman Blakeman's experience and skill in navigating local governments and serving his constituents is well-know, " Gillen said. "I believe Blakeman shares my vision of working together in a bipartisan manner to deliver the best results for the taxpayers."
Blakeman served on the Hempstead Town Board from 1993 to 1995, before serving as presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature from 1996 to 1999. He has also served as a financial and legal advisor to President Ronald Reagan and President George W.Bush.
"Supervisor Gillen and I are sincerely interested in working together to bring greater and more comprehensive ethics reforms to the Town of Hempstead,” Blakeman said. “I look forward to working with her on making the town an even better place to live, work and raise a family."
Blakeman replaces Republican Anthony D'esposito in the position, and his appointment marks the first time in Hempstead's history where a supervisor and deputy supervisor hail from different political parties.
"We're here to do right by the people," said Gillen. "A difference in party registration should not impede public service, but rather make it better."
The first 2018 meeting of the Hempstead Town Board will be held on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The meeting can be livestreamed at bit.ly/2EiD7QO.