After Congressman Steve Isreal announced he would not be running for re-election, former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman announced he would throw his hat in the ring.
Kaiman, who is running to represent New York’s 3rd Congressional District including Whitestone, Little Neck, Great Neck, Huntington and Commack, most recently served as special adviser on Hurricane Sandy relief to Governor Andrew Cuomo and chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
The Great Neck resident and progressive Democrat, who began his career as a lawyer, was elected to Nassau County District Court in 1999 and served as a judge for three years. He acted as North Hempstead town supervisor for 10 years, where Kaiman helped balance a budget and created several innovative programs.
“We’ve done a lot of very creative things and had a great deal of success,” Kaiman said. “We balanced budgets every year, reduced debt, achieved the highest bond ratings in the town’s history and maintained them during the worst economic times.”
During his tenure as town supervisor, Kaiman introduced 311 to the area ― the first suburban town in the country to employ the call center. He also created a program called Project Independence, which is similar to a Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORC) program, that allows seniors to age in place and makes services such as transportation, medical services and home repair easily accessible.
The program served 25,000 seniors and Kaiman said he would like to replicate the program in District 3 and nationally. Kaiman created a subdivision of senior management and partnered with local taxi companies whose businesses were struggling during afternoon hours.
From noon to 5 p.m., seniors can call 311 and a taxi driver will take them shopping. The program also expanded to include trips to medical appointments and a handyman program where developmentally disabled individuals were hired to do handiwork.
“Running for office is about people, about what their needs are and what their expectations are,” Kaiman said. “The fundamental responsibility of someone in office whether it’s locally or in Congress is to elevate those that you represent by addressing their needs.”
Kaiman added that he would also focus on getting condominiums and co-ops officially recognized by the federal government. Currently, co-ops and condominiums are classified as farms or businesses in federal parlance.
After Hurricane Sandy hit many of the condos and co-ops, many residents could not receive storm recovery money. Kaiman worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Housing and Urban Development to funnel money for repairs.
He said his goal is to help local government more effectively tackle large-scale problems by working in tandem with federal government and resources.
“Local government, when it confronts issues such as large senior populations [it] can’t necessarily resolve [those] issues,” Kaiman said. “The trick is to take these national goals set by the government and use the resources in partnership with the state and with local government to make the local community, local government work better. Right now, it becomes a burden when you have all the mandates from the federal government so on a very local level, my goal is to be able to help local communities navigate the challenges.”