Felix Procacci is the Democratic candidate for Hempstead Town Supervisor. He is running against Kate Murray, who has served the position since 2003.
Procacci, a Franklin Square resident, is a computer programmer, community activist, husband and father of two. Patch recently spoke with Procacci to discuss his reasons for running and major goals if elected to the position.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I am 51, married with two children (12 and 10 years old), and a resident of Franklin Square for 15 years. I am a registered Republican. I have a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree and have worked as a Computer Programmer for the last 17 years.
Q: Why are you running for this position?
I am running for Hempstead Town Supervisor to reign in unnecessary growth of government spending by making government transparent. If elected, I will provide residents accurate, timely, and comprehensive information about their government. I am running on the principle that government works best when residents are well-informed and when elected officials and employees act openly.
I am running because Supervisor, Kate Murray, has consistently refused to implement even the most basic initiatives to make Town government transparent. For example, broadcasting Town Board meetings and putting ratified contracts online (the Town has the equipment and personnel to easily perform these tasks, at practically no cost, but Supervisor Murray refuses implement them).
I am also running to ensure that all residents are treated fairly when they come to speak at Town Hall. Currently, if you criticize Town government, you are given less speaking time.
Q: What qualifies you to serve in the position?
I am dedicated to making Town government transparent so government officials are held accountable, and government works efficiently. I am also dedicated to making government responsive to the needs of our residents.
My investigation into the Hempstead Animal Shelter discovered the same financial mismanagement subsequently reported by the State Comptroller.
I will use my experience in the computer field to ensure Town government uses technology efficiently (Hempstead Town government is currently very wasteful of taxpayer money).
I have attended and spoke at every Hempstead Town Board meeting for the last three years, numerous school board meetings, and seminars on reforming local government and have an understanding of what is needed to reform government so it works for the people and works economically.
Q: What is your opinion of the most recent budget? Would you have done something differently with it?
This budget, like all previous budgets under the Murray administration, has a lot of unnecessary spending, and spending that cannot be accounted for. For example, the budget specifies $30 million of reserves to be used, but the Town Comptroller (at the budget hearing) refused to say which reserve funds were being used.
There are also a lot of expenditures they refuse to account for. For example, the Town is budgeting $292,000 for three graphic artists, but the Town will not provide the names and salaries of those people (in 2011 there was 1 graphic artist at $62,938 and the Town will not explain why they now need three graphic artists, and why the cost has gone up 370%). By State law, such information is supposed to be a matter of public record.
The Town's budget needs to be thoroughly examined, and residents need to be made aware of how Town government is spending their money, so they (not the politicians) can decide on budget priorities.
Q: What do you think is the biggest issue facing the Town of Hempstead?
Lack of transparency. For example, the Murray administration spends millions of dollars of taxpayer money to boast about how fiscally responsible she is, but the fact is the Murray administration (with all its years of government experience) increased taxes 44.9% over nine years (even though the workforce declined by 6%).
Between 2006 and 2009, the Murray administration approved wage increases that brought the compensation of two Sanitary District 7 employees to over $1 million dollars. Supervisor Murray denied responsibility, but the fact of the matter is the Town Board can vote down line items in Special District budgets. In this case, as in many other cases, Supervisor Murray and the entire Town Board rubber stamped the budgets and did not even notify residents. Lack of transparency allows wasteful spending to continue unabated.
Q: If you are elected, what is the one thing you’d like to see accomplished during your term?
I would like to see many more residents knowledgeable about how their Town government operates, and more participation in the political process.
I believe that by providing residents with the information they need to make an informed choice, more people will participate in the political process, reducing the effects of special interests, thereby making the political process more fair.
Q: Would you like to add anything else?
As Town Supervisor, I will request that the State Comptroller audit the entire Town to ensure taxpayer money is being properly allocated and spent. I will install a computer system that will bring transparency and accountability to the Town's building department (which has been plagued with many scandals over the years).
To make living in Hempstead more affordable, I will stop the growth of unnecessary government spending by keeping residents informed of all budgetary decisions (over last ten years, Town taxes have increased by about 50% even though population hasn't grown).
I will maintain programs and services the residents want, and will ensure government officials are held accountable by making government transparent.
For more info. on Procacci, visit the Town of Hempstead Democratic Committee website.
Patch will have a Q&A with Kate Murray coming Thursday, as well as other candidates over the next few days. Stay with us for more coverage on the upcoming election.