Return Of The Grand Old Party

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Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, appointed back in January, won the voters’ favor on Election Day. (Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Running on an anti-corruption plank might have paid off for Democrat County Executive-elect Laura Curran.

As an election issue, it did not work in Oyster Bay.

That town’s Democrats had emphasized the slogan, “There’s something rotten in the Town of Oyster Bay,” quoting a federal judge presiding at the tax evasion trial of Fred Ippolito, the town’s former planning commissioner.

This past summer, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas indicted a number of former town officials and one then current employee on numerous charges, adding firepower to the opposition’s campaign ammunition.

Democrats and a slew of independent candidates sought to link Republican Supervisor Joseph Saladino to his federally- and county-indicted predecessor, John Venditto.

Venditto, who has pleaded not guilty on corruption charges, stepped down in January of this year.

After serving for 13 years in the New York State Assembly, Saladino, amidst some opposition, was appointed supervisor back in January. Since then he has sought to distance himself from the past administration under the slogan, “There’s a New Day in Oyster Bay.” He has launched policies to strengthen ethics, increase transparency, find savings in the budget and buttress the town’s financial condition.

The voters apparently did not buy the opposition message, returning both Saladino and his four Republican running mates to office.

Saladino withstood a challenge from five contenders. With 51.95 percent of the vote, he outpolled Democrat Marc Herman (42.13 percent), Robert Ripp of the End Corruption line (2.83 percent), John Mangelli of the Reform Party (2.76 percent) and Jonathan Clarke of the Progressive line (.76 percent).

Incumbent Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr., seeking his second full term, defeated Democrat Dean Hart 54.46-45.51 percent.

Regaining their seats in a crowded field were councilmembers Louis Imbroto with 17.81 percent of the votes, just ahead of Michele Johnson (17.54 percent) and Thomas Hand (17.07 percent). Johnson won a second term. Imbroto was appointed to the board in March while Hand was appointed in May.

The three Democrats in the running also gained double digit totals. They were Eva Pearson (16.03 percent), Robert Freier (15.26 percent) and James Versocki (14.66 percent).

Via his Facebook page, Saladino commented, “I’m so thrilled and appreciative that residents responded to our hard work, which paved the way for a new day in Oyster Bay. The new Town Board constrained spending, reduced debt, cut taxes and implemented real ethics reform to restore the public trust over the past nine months. I credit good government policies such as these for our success. We thank the voters for placing trust in us and for giving us the opportunity to rebuild our town for everyone.”

Nassau County Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs told Anton Media Group, “I think Marc Herman was a great candidate for supervisor. We had great candidates and all worked very hard.”

Of the town itself he said, “It’s a tough nut to crack because of the registration—it’s more heavily Republican. And I think that if we had had more resources, if we have been able to find more money, it would’ve made a difference. We don’t raise money in the same way as Republicans do, and not as easily. For us, it’s a matter of where you put scarce resources. Had I put more resources in [Oyster Bay], maybe we would have had a different result. But we would have had to take the money from somewhere else.”

According to statistics from the Board of Elections, Republicans hold a 66,056 to 51,192 edge in registrations in the town.

Both party committees and candidates reportedly spent more than $1 million on the election, twice as much as two years ago.

“The election results were not what we labored for, but I can say I am so much richer because of the people I worked with and met along our journey,” Herman wrote on his Facebook page. “The Democratic team of Oyster Bay definitely left the woodpile a little higher than when we started. The fight to bring Oyster Bay back must continue.”

Herman paid homage to his running mates, calling Freier, Versocki and Pearson, “some of the finest people I have ever met. They were teachers, coworkers, cheerleaders and confidence builders when I needed them. They always had my back. I trust we will remain lifelong friends….I congratulate Mr. Saladino and wish him the best of luck as he assumes the position of supervisor. I hope he serves the people well.”

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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