Fresh off of his recent victory in the West Hempstead Library board race, Owen Rumelt has set his sights on Hempstead Town Councilman James Darcy's seat.
Rumelt, 51, is the Democratic candidate for the third councilmatic district, which includes portions of Hewlett and Woodmere and all of Atlantic Beach, East Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Lawrence and North Woodmere. It also includes Malverne, part of West Hempstead, portions of Elmont, Franklin Square, Lynbrook, North Valley Stream and Valley Stream.
Rumelt currently resides in West Hempstead, where he has lived with his wife and two teenage daughters for the past 23 years. After graduating from SUNY Stony Brook, Rumelt received his law degree from George Washington University and has been practicing for the past 27 years.
However, it's the two years that he has spent serving on the library board in West Hempstead that he says has most prepared him for a position in town politics.
"It's given me insight into what it takes to put together a budget and keep within that budget ... maintaining our programs while taking into account the economic problems that people are facing," he said.
Speaking to residents during his recent campaign for re-election also made him "more cognizant" of the state of local affairs. What inspired him most to throw his hat in the race was a "perceived need for government to be more responsive to the neighborhoods" they serve, he said.
He pointed to the decade-long battle that residents fought to rid the seedy Courtesy Hotel from West Hempstead.
"The Courtesy is a prime example of a lack of responsiveness to the needs of the community," he said, accusing Hempstead Town officials of delaying the progress on efforts to close the facility, which was last month.
But Mike Deery, a spokesperson for the Town of Hempstead, defended the town's actions during the nearly three-year effort to demolish the hotel.
"The truth of the matter is the town acted responsibly and as quickly as possible," he said.
Rumelt's other main concern is money, saying that the current system is marked by wasteful spending and bloated budgets that have resulted from patronage and inefficiencies.
"We need to cut down on the size of government," he said.
To illustrate this, he pointed a finger at the Town of Hempstead's Animal Shelter in Wantagh, which has frequently been for its budget and treatment of cats and dogs brought there. Rumelt said he would run the shelter similar to a business, employing only the most adept professionals and implementing more oversight.
But Deery said the town is already trying to make the shelter better. "The animal shelter really does a very good job and we’re working hard to make the shelter a better place for animal care," he said. "We’ve done a nationwide search for a new director and we worked with several advocacy and animal groups to make new policies to make it even better."
He and the other Democratic candidates also plan to prove that they are the team that will be able to stimulate the local economy and bring more jobs to the area.
"Most of our towns are failing," said Rumelt, explaining that many are filled with empty storefronts. "When you have over 100 years of one-party rule, you have certain complacency and government that doesn't meet the needs of the neighborhood."
Click on the following links to learn more about the and the that will be on the ballot this November.