Kate Murray wants people to know she has quite the winning record; 11-1 to be exact. If this year’s Town of Hempstead race to become town clerk is like the MLB playoffs, she’s made it to the World Series.
The former town supervisor was the first woman to hold the high-ranking position, being reelected multiple times between 2003-15. Now, the Republican is attempting a comeback as clerk.
The Levittown native is squaring off against incumbent town clerk Sylvia Cabana, a Democrat, and the first Latin-American woman selected to serve in that position. If elected, this would be the second time Murray has held the office after serving as town clerk from 2001-03.
Speaking with the Tribune, she not only states why she’s making a return, but elaborates on her goals should she be elected come Nov. 5.
Q: Why do you want to get back into the political world?
A: I started in 1998 and 19 years later, I was looking for another opportunity. Obviously, the DA race wasn’t successful. So I was 11-1. I ended up at Nassau Community College as vice president for institutional advancement for almost four years. When Don Clavin and the party reached out to me about running, I took a weekend—it didn’t even take me that long—to make a decision. I realized that I missed public service. It’s in my blood, and it’s been there for a long time. Public service is my wheel house and my passion in life. The campaign started in February and it’s been a great nine months to get back on the trail.
Q: What are your goals if you’re elected once again?
A: In the town clerk’s office, I started three new programs that remain to this day, some of the most successful ones in the office. I started the one-stop passport program. I started the child safety ID program to help create safety and personal profiles with children and their parents. I didn’t create the commuter parking sticker program, but what I did create was the overarching desire to make the town clerk’s office more accessible and convenient for our residents. I’d like to convert that program from a traditional parking sticker and make it an automated plate reader, which means people wouldn’t deal with stickers anymore. It would make it far simpler for our public safety officers, who go around the Long Island Rail Road lots and make sure only town residents are using the spaces. Another thing I want to do is make the town board go paperless. The calendar, depending on how many contracts are being considered, could be 100 pages with about 50 copies. To reduce our carbon footprint and make it more efficient, I want to go paperless, sending the calendars to media and officials via tablets and phones. It would be more convenient for residents to click on an item of interest on our calendar. Right now, it’s an archaic PDF scenario. I want to have a real-time tracker to monitor FOIL requests, so people can see the status of their request for whatever documents they’re looking for. Also, I’d like for all forms to be available online.
Q: A lot of Islanders fans might still be sour about what happened years ago regarding Nassau Coliseum. Are you worried that will hurt you in the election?
A: The point everyone forgets is in 2009, [former Islanders owner]Charles Wang filed his application. I asked him on the record if he wanted a permit to renovate the coliseum on that day. I was prepared to issue a renovation permit to him. The environmental analysis that accompanies an existing building is minimal compared to a brand-new project. He said, “No thank you. That doesn’t help my bottom line.” That was his choice. What grew very quickly was that the Town of Hempstead didn’t want to see it renovated. That was the farthest thing from what we wanted. We offered a permit on the spot. Perhaps, if Wang made a different decision that day, we would’ve been on a different journey. We’ll never know. That was in 2009, and I was reelected in 2011 and 2013 as supervisor. It hasn’t haunted me. I’m an Islanders fan and I’m excited for them. People don’t have the facts and they forget that Wang actually turned me down. There would’ve been a new coliseum within 18 to 24 months. It’s ancient history.
Q: What would it mean to you to be elected once again?
A: This is my 13th campaign, so I’m very excited to reconnect with people in the special, unique way. I look forward to updating, modernizing and professionalizing the office. If I’m successful, I’m going to take a look at the office on day one. I’ll consult with everyone there. They’re in the trenches and do the work every day. I’ll see what they want to do to modernize and move the office forward. We wake up at 4:30 in the morning and get home at 10:30 at night. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to have a successful Election Day.