A Life In Public Service

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Judi Bosworth
(Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Town of North Hempstead Supervisor can quickly list the good things she brought during her eight-year tenure. The town’s AAA bond rating, saving taxpayers millions on borrowing. Budgets under the state-mandated tax caps. Greater transparency in procurement, nepotism and financial disclosure. Approving the budget before Election Day. Live streaming and having public comment at the beginning of the board meetings, saving people from having to wait for hours to speak. The extensive town services for seniors, veterans, youth groups and the disabled.

What’s Judi Bosworth of Great Neck going to be doing after Dec. 31, her last day in office?

Frankly, the supervisor hasn’t given it much thought.

“I really wish I could give you a better answer, but I’m going to spend my remaining time in office making sure that I remain focused on the business of the town and our residents,” she replied during a recent phone interview with Anton Media Group. “And when I’m done, I’m planning on taking a deep breath and see what opportunities there are.”

Bosworth chose not to run for a fifth two-year term, and will be succeeded by Jennifer DeSena of Manhasset. Previously, she put in six years as Nassau County legislator and before that, served 16 years on the Great Neck School District Board of Education.

Q: Why did you get into politics and running for elected office?

A: I was really very determined to spend my life giving back to the community. My parents Rosa Ully Axelrod and Max Axelrod [escaped Nazi Germany]. My mother, who lost all of her family in the Holocaust, was probably the most patriotic woman I have ever met. She was so grateful to be in America. I grew up always hearing about what a great country this was. And that it was my responsibility to give back. My whole life has been guided by that. It’s been a great honor and privilege to be supervisor.

Q: Did you feel that you were always on the job?

A: There is no question it is a 24/7 job. And it will continue to be until December 31st. I answer every email that I get. I feel so strongly that it is of the greatest importance that if someone reaches out to me that they got a response from me. My husband Jay is a saint. Because when we did go away for a few days part of the deal was that I was going to be answering emails and I would be doing text and being on the phone. God bless him, it didn’t bother him one bit. I told him I need to do this otherwise I will be uncomfortable the whole time I’m away.

Q: What’s the best bit of advice you could give your predecessor? Obviously until someone steps into the position they really don’t know what it’s like.

A: I can attest to that. You could have so many experiences, and until you’re in an actual position, you really don’t know. I’m looking forward to a smooth transition. I’m hoping that the incoming supervisor will be very successful because her success means the town is successful. My advice to her would be to approach this in a bipartisan way, as I have. You run on a party line, but once you’re elected you are there to represent all the people of the town.

Q: What would you emphasize?

A: Certain things are important. You know our financial AAA Bond rating. That’s something I’m very proud of. When I became supervisor that was not the rating and I remember I worked very hard get to the point where we did have a triple A rating. I said my goal was to have a AAA bond rating and I said to myself yeah that’s never going to happen but it did. And we’ve maintained that rating 10 consecutive times. Anytime you go out for any kind of bonding the bond rating has to be reauthorized. And it’s been reauthorized 10 times, citing my fiscal conservative management style. I’m hoping that [fiscal virtue] continues while keeping in mind the needs of the community, the services they need to be provided, whether it’s for seniors, whether it’s for veterans or young families. And working together with the entire town board and all the various community groups to continue to make sure that North Hempstead is the best town not only on Long Island, but in the state—which by the way, I think it is.

Q: What are you disappointed with in your eight years in office?

A: The Building Department. Although I will tell you that the department has made tremendous improvements. We have 16 more people working in the department now than when I took office. I appointed an applicant’s advocate (Lauren Summa) so that there’s someone to contact if a resident is having an issue. The culture in the Building Department is more friendly and if something has not been permitted, there is an explanation and a way of moving it forward. Not to say that there are things that the department can be doing better and I know that we’re working on that. I could tell you that we have a great building commissioner (John Niewender), our deputies are wonderful and our plans examiners are terrific. I think that in the last two years people have not taken into consideration the effect that COVID had. So there’s work that needs to be done there, but I will tell you that it is a department that I am proud of and I’m proud of the people who work there.

Q: Why did you decide to leave?

A: My husband and I had lots of discussions. I’ll be 74 [this month]. Jay is 76. I realized that I wanted to make sure that I had the time to spend with my family and time to do the things that would be important to me and Jay as well as my children and grandchildren. and this was the right time. (Her family includes sons Brian and Michael, in-laws Lauren and David Guggenheim and grandchildren Andrew and Robin). All the people I just mentioned are the loves of my life. That was really why I decided not to seek re-election.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: My view of the town is that it’s a family, and in families sometimes you disagree and you could have spats. But the bottom line is we’re all in this together. Everybody has a seat at the table in the Town of North Hempstead.

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