GLEN COVE, NY – Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. And with the vote fast approaching, Patch is reaching out to Nassau County candidates to find out why they are running for office and what they hope to accomplish for residents.
Twelve candidates are running for six seats on Glen Cove City Council, including Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews, who is running for re-election.
Stevenson-Mathews, vocal and vocal coach for over 30 years, has served on city council since 2020. The 60-year-old Democrat volunteers to cook meals for North Shore Sheltering, is a member of the North Shore Historical Museum, serves as an alumnus in the First Presbyterian Church and is an associate member of AME Calvary Church, where he sings in the choir, according to his campaign website.
You can read more about Stevenson-Mathews below or by clicking here.
Why are you looking for an elective position?
As much as I love the rich history of Glen Cove, the beauty of our beaches and beautiful parks, the people of Glen Cove are our greatest asset.
Through my work as a volunteer, helping many causes and initiatives, and through my involvement in civic and business organizations, I have come to know so many of our residents. I am convinced that we can and must do better by the people of the city. This is what prompted me to throw my hat into the ring to introduce myself originally and it continues to be my driving force today.
My background in administration, my organizational skills and my ability to stand firm and advocate for what is right for people has, in my opinion, helped me serve the people of the city. I pride myself on having always put people’s best interests before my own and believe that my experience and skills make me well suited for the task at hand. I am looking to be re-elected so that I can continue to stand up and fight for the people of the city.
The most pressing issue facing our (council, district, etc.) is _______, and that’s what I intend to do about it.
The most pressing issue for our city is to maintain the quality of life that we expect from Glen Cove.
There are two parts to this: affordability and population density. It is difficult for young families and seniors on fixed incomes to afford to live in Glen Cove. It is heartbreaking that many people, whose families have lived here for generations, can no longer settle in Glen Cove due to the lack of affordable housing and our ever-increasing tax burden. This is also impacted by the growth and density of the population. As we make decisions on any development project, increasing population density poses challenges related to infrastructure, schools, sanitation, emergency services and public transport.
Addressing these challenges includes better governance, especially with regard to effectiveness and the adoption of a balanced approach to development. As most know, I voted against going over the tax cap and against the 2021 tax hike. I felt the increase was just too big, especially given the hardships caused by our current pandemic. . Rather than relying on excessive tax increases, we need to create a leaner, more profitable government. It requires creative thinking, long-term planning, and community input.
In addressing these challenges, I will continue to push for more public-private partnerships, for long-term strategic planning and greater accountability.
What are the critical differences between you and other candidates for this position?
I am an independent thinker, administrator and problem solver. I know how to work with people, I know how to manage budgets and I know how to get things done. I’m proud of my record on fiscal responsibility, always standing up for our families, veterans and seniors, and I’m proud of my record of always putting the best interests of the people of Glen Cove before my own.
Regarding my voting record. Yes, I voted against the mayor and the majority on some key issues – I voted against going over the tax limit, I voted against the 2021 tax hike – I felt it was too much in the midst of a pandemic, and, when a resolution came before me, including an increase in the density of Project Livingston, I did not vote to send it forward. I have, however, supported the mayor and my colleagues on excellent legislation which I am proud of – from obtaining liability insurance to protect our city from catastrophic losses, to implementing a foreclosure register, to improving our water wells – these are good, positive improvements.
How do you think the local authorities reacted to the coronavirus? What if something would you have done differently?
The coronavirus has hit us so hard and continues to impact our lives. Like many, I have lost dear friends and family to illness. The rollout of the vaccine at the state level and subsequently at the county and city levels has been far too slow. This was, from my perspective, our biggest gap.
Even though we wanted to get residents vaccinated, they just weren’t available. Once the vaccines were available, things moved faster and more efficiently. As a liaison with the Senior Center, as a founding member of NOSH, a North Shore soup kitchen program, and through my involvement in our places of worship, I was able to help identify many of our more vulnerable people who needed vaccines.
Plus, like others did, I helped seniors negotiate the challenges of registering for vaccines online. There were many, many gaps at the start of the immunization program. Despite this, Nassau County has the highest vaccination rate in the state and the second highest in the country.
We can learn from other states. Interestingly, West Virginia chose not to adhere to a federal plan, but instead created a network of pharmacies, linking them to long-term care facilities. With this approach, more of their long-term care residents received the vaccine much faster than other states, including New York. Thanks to this experience, we have learned a lot and we need to be better prepared.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
As we move forward as a city, we must continue to make better choices that both reduce our carbon footprint and save taxpayer dollars. The addition of solar energy to the center for the elderly and the volunteer fire department, the installation of LED bulbs throughout the city, as well as the charging station for electric cars are encouraging. Renewable energy efforts should be stepped up. This will reduce Glen Cove’s demands on fossil fuels and make the community more environmentally sustainable.
As the infrastructure develops, it is essential to include cycle paths and pedestrian walkways.
Becoming a clean energy community will give Glen Cove the opportunity to receive more grants for better green development. Enforcement of the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s SEQR requirements is an important tool in this effort.
As a member of the Friends of Hempstead Plains, I have a particular interest in the use of native plants in landscaping. This can provide habitat for wildlife and beautification that requires less maintenance – less irrigation, fertilizer and pesticide use, while preventing erosion and pollution.
Having clean, safe drinking water is a constant concern for all of us. The mayor and council have made significant progress over the past two years and I have fully supported these efforts. We currently have five operational wells and are completely renovating the Seamon Road well, which will be operational in 2022.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as proof that you can handle this job?
In addition to being a city councilor, I am a voice and speech coach and have worked for many years in the arts administration. Having run a theater company for many years and having worked in the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, I have developed strong communication skills, a foundation in administration, community development and fiscal responsibility. Most importantly, I am a problem solver!
I have an Associate of Arts degree in Business from Louisburg College (NC), Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Berea College (KY), Master of Fine Arts in Theater from Southern Methodist University (TX), and I had additional administrative training through the Support Center for Nonprofit Management in San Francisco. I am a proud trade unionist, a member of the AFL-CIO for over thirty years.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
From my mother – Do what’s right and be yourself.
What would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I come from a working class family – my mother was a public health nurse and my father was a factory worker. He later worked as a paramedic and dispatcher for our local police department. We have had very difficult times. However, through it all, I was brought up with a strong sense of civic duty, faith and commitment to community.
I also come from a military family. My only brother, retired Col. James H. Mathews, served two tours in Afghanistan, my father served in the Navy (WWII) and my mother was in the Cadet Nurse Corp (WWII). My Uncle Frank served four tours in Vietnam and was a recipient of the Bronze Star. In addition, my sister-in-law is a retired chief warrant officer and I have a nephew who served as an army combat medic.
I care about our veterans. I am fully aware of the challenges faced by many of our men and women who serve and have served. I believe they should be supported and honored at every opportunity. I’m honored to serve on the Memorial Day Parade committee, I’m happy to help VFW, and I’m a past member of the Heroes Among Us board of directors, serving our veterans and their families.
Editor’s Note: The candidate’s responses have been edited slightly for clarity.