Manhasset, NY –Dressed in Colonial garb, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, members of the Town Board, the Town Clerk and the Receiver of Taxes last week transported elementary school students, teachers and scores of onlookers back to the Town’s formation when it seceded from the Town of Hempstead.
For Supervisor Kaiman, who posed as Philip J. Christ, the Town supervisor from 1907 to 1917, it was his last day on the job before embarking on his new assignment as Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s special Long Island advisor for Sandy recovery and as Chair of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA).
North Hempstead has undergone dramatic changes since breaking off from the Town of Hempstead on Sept. 23, 1776, Supervisor Kaiman told the captivated audience, estimated at close to 300, mostly fifth graders from E.M. Baker School in Great Neck and Drexel Avenue School in Westbury.
“We’ve had our first female Supervisor in the late May Newburger, we have our first ever African American female in Councilwoman Viviana Russell, our first Iranian American Town Board member in Anna Kaplan and we had our first Latino board member in former Town Councilwoman Kitty Poons,” the Supervisor said, pointing to a period in the Town’s early history when women were not treated equally. “There are many things we can learn from our history but we look confidently to the future, because you youngsters are the future.”
Originally, North Hempstead was part of the Township of Hempstead. But with residents in northernmost Long Island growing increasingly dissatisfied with British rule in the mid-18th century, an ad hoc committee of Cow Neck (now Great Neck) militia submitted a resolution verbalizing what so many had on their minds: the wish to split from the township of Hempstead. It wasn’t until after World War I however, that the New York State legislature granted the request, creating the Town of North Hempstead in 1784. “It’s important that you learn history so that you, our leaders of tomorrow, can make better decisions in the future,” Councilwoman Kaplan, told the students who, following the morning’s event in the park, participated in mock Town Board sessions in Town Hall focusing on the workings of government. Kaplan portrayed Mercy Otis Warren, an ardent supporter of the Revolutionary cause.
Councilwoman Viviana Russell portrayed Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, a fashion maven of the day and champion of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900’s. “When our leaders make decisions, they impact the lives of women and men alike,” she said, “so each of you should make it your duty to learn about government and the electoral process. Get involved.”
Portraying Elizabeth M. Baker, Town Clerk Leslie Gross was greeted with loud applause by E.M. Baker students when she reminded them that their school was named for her. “I thank you for listening so diligently to the history of the Town,” she said. “I encourage you all to work hard in school so you can continue to positively shape the history of North Hempstead.”
Town Board members, Angelo Ferrara, Dina M. De Giorgio and Lee Seeman, portraying Adrian Onderdonk, Florence Shloss Guggenheim and Margaret Cochran Corbin respectively, were also in attendance.
Supervisor Jon Kaiman and the North Hempstead Town Board participate in the annual North Hempstead Day celebration.