When votes go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4 to vote on the Town of North Hempstead’s 2nd Council District seat, candidate Bonnie Parente feels her stance on the building department is what voters will remember when casting their choice. The 2nd council district post is currently held by Peter Zuckerman, a former East Hills trustee. He was appointed to the seat in January to replace Thomas Dwyer, who resigned last year.
“That’s the major issue I heard about when I knocked on doors,” she said. “No matter where I am, I could be at the Herricks Community Center or the Albertson Pasta Dinner and predominately what people ask about is how to fix the building department.”
Parente says the town should hire temporary employees in the building department to pull files and notify residents of any missing application forms and permit fees, an initiative she said East Williston has undertaken with success.
“My idea is to get rid of the backlog by pulling those files and maybe even do an amnesty program,” she said, “even if we have to use temporary employees to do it now. Once the backlog is cleared out, the future should not result in people waiting 18 months for a permit.”
Parente, a Republican, was elected to the East Williston Village Board in 2011. She decided to run after the Republican party approached her to challenge the seat’s expiring term.
“I want to stress that [Zuckerman] has voted party line on every single vote and the residents of the 2nd district deserve someone who’s going to vote independently,” she said.
Parente announced her candidacy to unseat Zuckerman in May. She was recently endorsed for the position by Town Councilman Angelo Ferrara and Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello. Her election would end the Democratic supermajority on the town council.
Parente grew up in Mineola and attended Mineola High School before earning her bachelors degree in banking and finance from Hofstra University. She said her work with the East Williston Teen Safety Committee prepared her for dealing with tough decisions.
“We addressed [teen loitering] taking into account that teens did not have a place to go, and respected that they just needed a place to be,” Parente said. “By putting yourself in the shoes of the other person, it helps solve the problem.”
She attended Touro Law School and worked at Jackson Lewis LLP, an international labor law firm, from 1999-2003. Parente was hired by Newsday as an attorney and labor relations manager before becoming the director of human resources for the New York Racing Association in 2005, spearheading contract negotiations with the NYRA’s bargaining units. She currently runs her own private practice in Mineola, which opened in January 2013.
Parente is also an active member of the St. Aidan’s Parish Council, a gold mentor to Nassau County Girl Scouts, trained mentor for Cub Scouts and Boy Scout and Girl Scout leader.
The 2nd town council district includes Albertson, East Williston, East Hills, Greenvale, Manhasset Hills, North New Hyde Park, Roslyn Harbor, Roslyn Heights, and Searingtown. District residents will vote in a special election next week, with the winner to serve the remaining year in Dwyer’s term. The election for a four-year term will be held in November 2015.