Known as one of the hardest working and most effective officials in government, Hempstead Town Councilman Gary Hudes has announced that he will retire from his career as an elected member of the Hempstead Town Board on June 5, 2017. From bringing government closer to the people with his well-known “Gary-On-the-Go” mobile town hall, to aggressively targeting quality-of-life issues such as graffiti and zombie homes, Hudes has earned a reputation as being incredibly responsive and accessible to those who call America’s largest township home. The councilman’s motivation throughout his career has been a desire to help people that feel they need a voice in government and to make Town of Hempstead more responsive, with a common sense business approach to governing.
“Serving the residents of the 6th Councilmanic District and the Town of Hempstead has been a tremendous honor and I have been rewarded over and over again for 17 years with the support of our residents,” said Hudes. “As a lifelong businessman specializing in customer service, I have brought that experience to all of those that I have had the pleasure to represent. I have often visited resident’s homes, personally meeting with them on the steps of their homes late at night or on Saturday’s or Sunday’s in order to address local problems to the best of my ability. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving and fulling the promises I made to myself, when I took office 17 years ago, to make a positive difference in people’s lives and bring real common sense customer service to town government”
Hudes has implemented a host of programs and sponsored an impressive array of local legislation designed to improve the suburban quality-of-life. One of the Councilman’s greatest accomplishments occurred before he even took office. The town’s downtown revitalization program was an undertaking conceived by Hudes, who was the president of the Nassau County Council of Chambers of Commerce at the time. He envisioned the effort as a way to revitalize downtowns that had been devastated by larger well financed national chains. The idea was to create attractive downtown destinations that would draw shoppers back to struggling business districts. The program was an unqualified success, helping small businesses to compete with “big box” stores, and commercial vacancy rates plummeted in Bellmore, the first community to partner with Hempstead Town on the program. The effort won three national awards and served as the inspiration for Hudes to expand upon the initiative after he became a Hempstead Town Councilman. Indeed, Hudes successful pilot program encouraged similar projects in Merrick, Levittown, East Meadow and across Nassau County through Operation Downtown. The projects featured new storefront facades, coordinated shop signage, brick-paved walkways, Victorian streetlamps, decorative benches, plantings and more.
Some of the Councilman’s other notable programs include his “Hands On” Recycling Bin replacement initiative, the SLOW motor vehicle speed reduction project, as well as his Business and Government class seminars. Councilman Hudes could be found driving the streets of his district at sunrise on “recycling day,” personally replacing broken recycling bins that he would notice at the curb at thousands and thousands of his constituent’s homes.
The SLOW project utilized electronic mobile driver feedback signs (aka speed control signs) at schools and other locations of concern. The effort allowed the town to constantly move the mobile signs among targeted locations, maximizing effectiveness and keeping pedestrians safe across the town. Signs were procured through state grants. Gary Hudes’ government and business seminars have brought the “real world” experience that Hudes has gained as a Councilman and successful businessman to local school classrooms through his lively interactive classes given to thousands of high school, middle and elementary students.
Local communities across the Town of Hempstead are visually cleaner due to councilman Hudes sponsoring and passing the “utility pole advertising ban.” Anyone who has driven along Long Island’s roads has endured the eyesore of as many as a dozen signs nailed to a single utility pole. Disgusting to look at and dangerous when they blow off poles and careen into the street, Gary Hudes took action that banned the signs and imposed penalties for infractions. Also, the town’s highway department proactively has been removing the unsightly ads.
Similarly, Hudes tackled another eyesore, implementing comprehensive graffiti control legislation, both as chairman of the Anti-Graffiti Task Force and as councilman. The law increased penalties for graffiti and made property owners responsible for removal of the vandalism. Along with the law, the town has a “zero tolerance” for graffiti vandals and prosecutes all criminals who are caught. In an effort to help homeowners who are victimized by graffiti criminals, the councilman has organized boy scouts and other volunteers to clean and paint over graffiti for homeowners who are unable to address the problem on their own.
Working to keep our town beautiful, Hudes sponsored legislation that took on property owners who let waist-high grass remain uncut and those whose parcels are rampant with litter and debris. Hudes’ law compels owners to “keep it clean” and provides penalties for those who don’t. For those who refuse to cut lawns and remove debris, the town steps in to perform the job, charging all costs back to property owners through their tax bills.
More recent pieces of legislation sponsored by Councilman Hudes is holding banks accountable for maintaining “zombie homes” upon which they have foreclosed. The various “zombie laws” require banks and other lenders to clean up and maintain their properties in instances where the properties become overgrown and littered with debris.
In 2016, the councilman received accolades for legislation that restricted parking at local train station lots to Town of Hempstead residents exclusively. Commuters from other towns and Suffolk County had been using parking spaces for which town residents had paid taxes to maintain and repair. The new law has resulted in less parking congestion at town LIRR lots and more parking opportunities for residents.
“For the past 17 years as Town Councilman I’ve been able to make a difference in the lives of families in the Town of Hempstead, but now it’s time for me to spend more time with my own family, my four grandchildren and my growing business,” said Hudes about his retirement from the Town of Hempstead.