Glen Cove Mayor-elect Reginald Spinello said Thursday that the city has not been properly promoted as an attractive place for new businesses and residents, and he promised significant staff moves to change that.
"I don't think we've gone out and sold Glen Cove the way it should be sold," Spinello said in an interview after being declared the winner in a close mayoral race following a count of absentee ballots Wednesday.
Democrat Ralph Suozzi, mayor for eight years, lost his re-election bid by 74 votes, according to the Nassau County Board of Elections. Spinello, an Independence Party member who was also the Republican candidate, received 3,433 votes to Suozzi's 3,359. Suozzi trailed Spinello by 115 votes when the polls closed.
Spinello, 61, a councilman since 2011, and fellow Republicans will now hold four of the seven seats on the City Council, wresting control from the Democrats.
"I'm very excited," Spinello said. "I've gotten so many calls from people embracing the change, and that is a very rewarding feeling."
As to why he won, Spinello said, "I think my message was clear and that it was a message people wanted to hear: that Glen Cove was in dire need of change. You had someone there for eight years who tried his best -- there's no doubt about it that his heart was in it -- but I don't think he effectuated any real change and Glen Cove didn't move forward."
Suozzi sent out an email Wednesday night congratulating the winner and promising a smooth transition, but declined to comment Thursday.
"I am very proud of the fact that I am turning over the City of Glen Cove in far better shape than it was when I took office in 2006," he wrote in the email. "My administration was able to reverse Glen Cove's financial downturn in spite of a global recession. In addition, we've completed the decades-long cleanup of industrial contamination and improved infrastructure, economic development, parks, public safety and health."
Spinello, a Glen Cove native and retired executive with his own pharmaceutical business, said staff changes should be expected at City Hall, particularly at the Community Development Agency and Industrial Development Agency.
"It's time to bring new business into Glen Cove," he said. "I think growing the revenue base is very important for us. Glen Cove has a lot to offer. It's a waterfront community. We have parks, recreation and our own golf course. We're missing out on a big market of empty-nesters and young professionals that are looking for places to plant some roots. We have to convert Glen Cove from being a bedroom community to a place with a vibrant downtown and lots of activity."
Spinello said he hopes to reduce the scale of the massive Garvies Point waterfront redevelopment project.
"I'm all for helping the waterfront," he said, but the final phase of planned housing on the western end of the property is too dense. Even though many of the approvals are already in place, "perhaps there can be a few concessions that will be beneficial to the city."
Spinello also said "it's time to really take a stand and fight illegal housing and stabilize the taxes."