Oceanside area residents will vote Thursday in a rare contested election for commissioner of a sanitation district that serves more than 13,000 households.
The race for a five-year seat on the five-member board is only the second contested election in Sanitary District 7 in the past decade, said Jerome Cline, an attorney for the district.
Michael Sullivan, a commissioner since 1998, is defending his seat against Ed Scharfberg, an Oceanside Fire Department member and retired New York Police Department detective.
Scharfberg said he is running to give the public a chance to get involved in the sanitation district's operations, as he feels the district is currently run like a private club. The district needs to better communicate with the public about its budget and operations, he said.
"Is the taxpayer getting a fair shake?" he said. "I would make sure there's checks and balances out there."
Sullivan did not return numerous calls for comment. He is a special park district supervisor with Hempstead Town, for which he has worked for 40 years.
Sullivan makes $124,167 as a Hempstead employee. Scharfberg works part time for the Oceanside Fire Department as a dispatcher, among other duties, which pays him up to $285 per week for up to 19 hours per week of work.
The commissioner post pays $7,500 per year, Cline said.
"I think there are qualified candidates as far as I can tell," he said. "It's very, very rare that the election is contested."
The district also serves 950 commercial businesses and has an annual budget of about $8.65 million, Cline said. The district's coverage area is more than 5 square miles and includes Oceanside and parts of Baldwin and East Rockaway.
Services provided include garbage collection and recycling pickup, Cline said. The average homeowner in Sanitary District 7 pays about $600 in taxes per year, he said.
Nassau Board of Elections Democratic Commissioner William T. Biamonte said he has asked the district to conduct a random drawing to determine which candidate's name will be listed first on the ballot. However, Cline sent a letter to the board of elections that said the district's policy "for many years" has been to list the incumbent's name first on the ballot.
Voting is scheduled for 3 to 10 p.m. at Columbia Engine Co., 26 Smith St. in Oceanside.
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