Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In The Special District Elections, Your Vote Really Did Matter

Whether It will Make A Difference, Is Another Story Altogether

A few upsets in the special district elections, at least where commissioner races were being contested.

Bravo to Uniondale residents who came out to vote. Not in droves, certainly, but at least in numbers sufficient to defeat the incumbents, and to send the message that they've had enough.

Okay, it was no coup d'etat. In fact, it was most likely a case of disgruntled volunteer firefighters voting with their hoses, more than it was unhappy taxpayers beating their chests. Anyway, it was a start. . .
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Water doesn't necessarily follow fire, as the results in the water districts demonstrate, but the challengers did defeat the incumbents in 2 of the 6 Nassau County water districts where elections were contested.
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Incumbents swept out of Uniondale fire district

The old guard was swept out last night in the Uniondale Fire District, where three commissioners' seats were won by newcomers supported by a large number of the district's volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

"They had something to say, and they spoke loud and clear," said longtime Commissioner Russ Rinchiuso, who was not up for re-election. "You have to take care of them. They are the ones who save lives."

Noel Thomas won a five-year seat with 234 votes, beating incumbent James Russell (188 votes) and Richard Glass (143). Richard Troy Harris defeated Eaton Pitter, 347-200, for a three-year seat and Samantha Dias defeated newly appointed commissioner Milton Allen, 319-217, for a one-year seat.

Rinchiuso said the Uniondale Fire Department's Brookside Company 2 actively campaigned for the three winners. Volunteer Milton Bowe, a supporter of the winners, said the board in its present state did not respect the firefighters and EMTs. Allen, a deacon, had said he hoped to stay on the board to help mend the rift.

Across Long Island yesterday, voters in 125 fire districts chose commissioners who oversee more than $300 million in property tax revenues.

Unlike fire departments - whose volunteers drag hoses and douse flames - fire districts elect commissioners who levy taxes, buy equipment and set policy.

Here are some results of yesterday's voting:
In Oceanside, volunteer Joe Murello beat out incumbent Paul Napoli, 428-321. Napoli was one of the commissioners named in a sexual harassment lawsuit claiming the board failed to discipline a male volunteer for making sexually explicit comments to a female member.

The top two vote-getters for a three-year seat were Dennis McGlynn (343 votes) and Peter Strahl (332), but a winner could not be determined as there are 13 sealed affidavit votes to be opened today. Frances Bacon, who also ran for the seat, received 150 votes.

In Selden, department veteran George Bopp unseated current district treasurer Jeffrey Bailes, 422-79.

In what Cold Spring Harbor fire officials said was heavy turnout, a $6.95-million bond proposition for the renovation of the firehouse was defeated by a huge margin: 564 to 41 votes. Residents voted 464-113 against lowering the age a firefighter can receive a pension from 65 to 60 years of age.

In the commissioners' race, volunteer Kevin O'Brien defeated builder Jack Palatella, 289-245. For a three-year seat, Bruce Hafner beat out Vincent Papa, 276-268.

In Coram, newcomer Deborah Mantell, 42, lost her bid to become the district's first female commissioner to incumbent Tim Heidrich, 218-150. "It was a rough race," she said. "I really wanted to get in there and make a big change."

In South Farmingdale, incumbent Richard Bylicki won with 315 votes over Anthony Magnifico (201) and Alan Jacoby (28).

In West Islip, Sal Celeste won a one-year seat with 207 votes, beating Robert Coppola (115 votes), Darren Drinkwater (189) and Steven Faisst (118).

In Terryville, Eileen Antignano beat Edward Peiliker, 350-90.In Syosset, Roy Brouillard defeated Don Russo, 595-255, and Christian Peiper beat Robert Manfredonia, 519-170.

Staff writer Reid Epstein contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2007, Newsday Inc.

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