Jasmine Garcia-Vieux is a Levittown resident and the Democratic Party candidate for the position of Town of Hempstead Clerk.
The position is currently held by Nasrin G. Ahmad, who was appointed to the post in September following the vacancy left by Mark Bonilla, who was found guilty of official misconduct and removed from his post in August.
Patch sat down with Garcia-Vieux on Tuesday to discuss her background, reasons for running and major goals if elected to the position.
The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 11 and residents can find their polling locations at the board of elections website. Absentee ballots can also be found online here.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I actually grew up in Queens, I went to Christ King High School in Middle Village and then onto St. John's University in Jamaica. After graduating with a BS in criminal justice, I went to New York Law School in Manhattan, and I worked full-time at Citigroup Global Markets at the time. I was there eight years and I went to school part-time so I could work and pay for law school.
When the markets were kind of not doing so well at the end of 2007, I decided to leave Citigroup so I could study for the bar and look for a more permanent position out here in Long Island because I wanted to stay here closer to my family.
I started working at Smith and Brink, P.C. and I manage their New York practice. One year after starting working here as an associate, they asked me to manage the New York practice of the national firm and I’ve been managing the firm since then.
Q: Why are you running for the position of Hempstead Town Clerk?
I live in Nassau County, I live and work in the Town of Hempstead and I am concerned about the direction that our county and our town is heading. I’m concerned that young families like my own are fleeing Nassau County because they can no longer afford to live here. The difference is, I want to live here and raise my boys and work here in the Town of Hempstead, but I can’t continue to do that if we continue to maintain the status quo, it’s that simple. I’m concerned about the direction we’re heading and I don’t want to sit back and complain anymore, I want to be involved in the process.I learned a lot about things that were going on in my own backyard that I didn’t even know were happening. For example, the redistricting in the Town of Hempstead. I’m concerned that the current administration thinks it’s okay to dilute the voting rights of thousands of minority voters, that concerns me. It’s for those reasons that I decided to run.
Q: If elected, how would you tackle these issues?
Unfortunately, the town clerk’s office is not a policy driven position. But as the Town Clerk, I can hold the line on fees. It’s constantly thrown in our face that the current administration has not raised our taxes; but fees have gone up significantly over the past several years, so I would hold the line on fees.
The Town Clerk’s offices are responsible for your licenses, so you have dog licenses and all types of permits that you need to get within the Town of Hempstead. They are also responsible for overall records management, birth certificates, marriage licenses, passport services, so there are all fees contributed with submitting an application to the town. I would absolutely hold the line on fees and make sure they are not growing at the rate that they have been growing over the past several years.
The other thing is, as an elected official, I do have some sort of influence and I can advocate for things that I believe will affect working families like mine, living here in Nassau County.
Q: You have stated on your website that one of your main goals is a more transparent government. Can you elaborate further?
I am definitely an advocate for an open government. In my role as Town Clerk, I really want to promote citizen participation. I think that’s very lacking right now with the current administration.
For example, the town board meetings. I’m an advocate for streaming town hall meetings. I think it’s unfortunate that the meetings are held at hours that are not accessible to the public. For example, you have meetings during the day, during the week, when most people work. I think out of the 21 meetings held so far this year, only five or so were held at 7 p.m. It’s unfortunate because you cannot promote citizen participation if you are not making it accessible to the public.
So, I would be a very strong advocate for streaming the town hall meetings online and getting the transcripts out there. If the public wants to voice their opposition or if they want to praise something, they should have the opportunity to do that.
The other thing is, I really want to be a strong advocate for inclusion. I believe our government should be inclusive and not exclusive. So, I would work really hard to make sure we get all the forms, applications all that information online so that people can access it from the comfort of their own home. I would also propose extended business hours at the town clerk's office during the week.Q: Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
I want voters to know that I am a different candidate; I am not a politician. I am a mother, I am a wife, I am an attorney. And I’m running because I have a vested interest in what happens here within my county and within my town.
I hope people recognize the importance of this election, realize that their voice and their vote does matter. I want them to know that it will make a difference and they have the opportunity to actually change the dynamic of politics within the Town of Hempstead. We are talking about over 100 years of one-party control and I think a lot of people believe, like myself, that it’s time for change. Whether or not they vote for me, I think it’s important that people realize the importance of coming out and voting.
For our Q&A with Republican challenger Nasrin Ahmad, click here.