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She Will Be Missed

Sen. Jack Martins remembers former North Hempstead Supervisor May Newburger.

We received some bad news last week when we learned that former Town Supervisor .  So I want to first take the opportunity to extend my condolences to her family and friends – and there are many of us that counted ourselves friends.

Then I want to tell you a little bit about May and what kind of public servant she was. By way of background, May first . She joined the North Hempstead Town Board in 1992 and was elected Town Supervisor in 1994, a post she held through 2003. But it wasn’t her many years of public service that made her noteworthy, it was how she served. May rightly earned the reputation among her peers as being a tenacious public servant.

If there was something she felt strongly about, she was truly a force of nature. She was passionate, conscientious, and dedicated to her constituents. And while you could always find people that disagreed with May, you’d have been hard pressed find one that didn’t respect her. At the risk of sounding nostalgic, she brought an old-fashioned air of civility and decency to government.

May was a Democrat. I am a Republican. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on everything and most of the time when we did disagree, it was without being disagreeable. I didn’t mind because in the end, I knew together we could get things done. She made it clear right from the beginning that our constituents came first and I never doubted her sincerity. On a personal note, I could even count on her gentle advice when I needed it or her not so gentle advice when she felt I needed it.

I’m not alone in my assessment of this remarkable woman. Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel recently told Newsday, “Everyone in politics on Long Island, on both sides of the aisle, learned something from her,” while Congressman Ackerman described her as, “a mother to everybody in the business.” 

So why am I sharing this with all of you? I guess I thought we might need to hear about someone like her given the recent news. Last week found a Democrat State Senator from Queens being indicted and arrested for corruption and the beginning of this week found a long-time Democrat Brooklyn Assemblyman under investigation for a number of sexual harassment incidents as well.

I was driving when I heard the news and couldn’t help but think, “Great, one more thing to shake people’s faith in government.” I will selfishly admit that it’s hard enough to make well-thought out policy decisions without the added tide of negativity these types of incidents create.

May was the type of public servant who would have never stood for these shenanigans, no matter which side of the aisle they came from. She stood by her convictions and represented the polar opposite of this kind of behavior. That’s why she will be missed.

There are others like her, but also like May, they often fly under the radar because scandal gets the headline.

Hopefully, in writing about and remembering public servants like her, we can restore damaged faith in government. I have fond memories of battles and commiserations alike. I will miss this gentle lady. 

 is the representative of New York's Seventh Senatorial District. He was elected to the State Senate in 2010 as a Republican from Mineola.

Rachelle Neuman September 06, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Beautiful tribute.We need more people like her and you. We have to remember that the glass is half full. Recognizing the good in people seems so hard to do lately. Thanks for the article. Rachelle Neuman

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