Town of Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Donald X. Clavin maintained an unusually high profile during most of 2018.
Now we know why.
The speculation voiced last year—that Clavin, after 18 years as receiver, was seeking higher office—turned out to be accurate.
Standing in front of a popular pizzeria in his hometown of Valley Stream on Feb. 19, the Republican announced that he was challenging first-term incumbent Democrat Laura Gillen for the supervisor’s seat.
Republicans had held the post for more than 100 years before Gillen’s upset of Anthony Santino in 2017.
“It’s time to put taxpayers first,” Clavin declared at his announcement. “I was profoundly disappointed that the first financial act of the current supervisor was to propose a budget that hiked taxes by $2 million. It’s time to cut spending instead of boosting taxes. That’s why I was enthusiastic to work with a bipartisan group of council members to successfully pass a budget that slashed taxes by 4.2 percent compared to Laura Gillen’s bloated spending plan. Taxpayers deserve better.”
Clavin added that he was “stunned that Gillen, when presented with an opportunity to support a sound and sensible bipartisan 2019 tax cut budget on Oct. 30, proclaimed, ‘I vote no.’ Evidence of the prudence of the council members’ tax cut was supported by an upgrade in the township’s Wall Street credit rating a mere two days after the tax trimming spending plan was adopted over Gillen’s objections.”
Clavin also pledged to cut the supervisor’s $2 million patronage staff payroll by half on “day one” of his administration.
A campaign release boasted that Clavin has done “more to help residents reduce their property tax burden than any other public official. Hosting hundreds upon hundreds of taxpayer forums, Clavin has been showing homeowners how to lower their taxes through ‘tax challenge’ and ‘how to’ programs that assist taxpayers in getting every property tax exemption for which they are eligible.”
Clavin has also been a critic of Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s reassessment, labeling it “error-riddled and unfair…[and] hiking taxes for hundreds of thousands of tax-weary neighbors.”
He accused Gillen of being “silent on the reassessment project.”
Clavin was joined by Republican town councilmembers, including Majority Leader Erin King Sweeney, Deputy Supervisor Bruce Blakeman, and trustees Anthony D’Esposito and Dennis Dunne Sr.
Kate Murray, the former supervisor who is running for town clerk, also stood with Clavin at his kickoff.
Clavin’s platform, according to a press release, “includes environmentally responsible and sustainable growth; intergovernmental cooperation; streamlining of operations; a major infrastructure upgrade initiative, focusing on major roadway repaving projects and parks overhaul; encouragement of ‘next generation’ homes development; enhancing services for persons with special needs; improving online town services; and collaborative initiatives with local universities and colleges, focused on retaining young workers in our township.”
“Hempstead is at a crossroads,” concluded Clavin. “Our taxpayers are at the breaking point, and they can stand no more. Homeowners deserve a supervisor who will hold the line on taxes.”
Reacting to Clavin’s announcement, Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs stated, “Now we know why Clavin was spending hundreds of thousands of your taxpayer money to promote himself and his partisan agenda for the past year and a half. He spent your money because he wanted to run for town supervisor in order to bring back the waste, fraud, mismanagement and misuse of taxpayer dollars that Supervisor Laura Gillen has been fighting hard to end since she took office. Don Clavin, with his $205,000 public relations assistant and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer-funded mailers, has certainly burnished his taxpayer-wasting resume.”
Mike Fricchione, a Gillen spokesperson, said, “Supervisor Gillen vowed and followed through on her promise to protect the taxpayers of this town by challenging the former administration’s unconscionable 11th-hour power play, which effectively tied the hands of the incoming, democratically elected supervisor to manage the town’s budget, while simultaneously doling out hundreds of appointments, transfers and millions of dollars worth of taxpayer-funded promotions to the politically connected. Supervisor Gillen was elected to challenge the status quo and fight for the taxpayers, even if it means being at odds with the rest of the board.”
“The receiver happily accepted over $500,000 worth of unbudgeted, patronage employees at the end of 2017, putting him wildly over budget to help out his party bosses,” read a Gillen campaign statement. “The shell game being played with taxpayer money by people like the receiver needs to stop. The receiver of taxes is part of the problem, not the solution.”