Freeport's controversial Mayor Andrew Hardwick was ousted Tuesday night by his former running mate, trustee Robert Kennedy, capping a heated and dramatic campaign that veered into court at one point and invoked the president of the United States at another.
The highlight of a slate of village elections across Long Island Tuesday, the Freeport race included a challenge in Nassau County Supreme Court to Kennedy's eligibility to run for office -- he was cleared -- and charges that a campaign flier distributed by Hardwick's team incorrectly claimed he had the "support" of President Barack Obama. Democratic National Committee officials said Obama had not endorsed Hardwick.
Kennedy said Tuesday night he's looking forward to putting the brutal campaign behind him and getting to work.
"We're going to turn the village around, and move forward in a positive direction," he said.
Kennedy's running mates -- sitting trustee Carmen Piñeyro, another former Hardwick running mate, and Ron Ellerbe -- also won two trustee seats. They defeated Annette Dennis and James Caracciolo, on Hardwick's line.
"Our community is going to begin to heal after a brutal election fight, that at the end brought our community together," Piñeyro said, adding, "I'm just glad it's over."
Caracciolo said, "It was a fair race and that's the way it goes in this business. They got more voters than we did."
Hardwick was not immediately available for comment.
Ten other villages had contested elections. All results are unofficial.
Challenger defeats 17-year mayor
The longtime mayor of Munsey Park was also toppled by a newcomer in a rare contested election, where a slate of newcomers upset incumbents including 17-year mayor Harry Nicolaides, who lost to challenger Frank DeMento.
In the race for two trustee seats, challengers Sean Haggerty and Patrick Hance defeated incumbents Albert Jaronczyk and Sheila Brennan.
"Sean, Patrick and I were all very satisfied that we won tonight," DeMento said. "The other side ran a great campaign . . . I think they should be thanked for their service," he said.
Ex-zoning official wins mayoral race
Former zoning board of appeals chairman James P. Wandell won the mayor's seat, after running on a platform charging that the current administration has raised taxes too high because of unwise spending.
He defeated two trustees, Edward C. Johnson and Peter M. Casserly, who argued the village's roughly $700,000 budget deficit would be closed or diminished if the village is paid money they say it is owed by Suffolk County and the developer of an unfinished condominium project.
Kevin P. Smith and Jessica T. Bernius won two trustee seats, defeating Joseph G. Morin, Bruce Jenney, Charles A. Walters, and Peter G. Himmelmann.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us and we're going to start digging in immediately," Wandell said.
Casserly, who said he will serve out the two years remaining in his term as trustee, praised Wandell for running an effective campaign but said incumbents had been hurt by the poor economy.
Smith said, "People were looking for some sort of a change and I'm going to be a part of it."
Mayor Hall, trustee running mates win
Incumbent Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr. won his third term, defeating six challengers, including trustee Perry M. Pettus, deputy mayor Henry Conyers and former Mayor James A. Garner, who finished second.
Hall's running mates -- Luis Figueroa and Waylyn Hobbs -- also emerged with victories in a 10-way race for two trustee seats. Ayesha Brantley, also on Hall's slate, was elected village justice.
"We did it again," Hall said. "After all this stuff that was put out about us, the people voted us in . . . The Village of Hempstead is moving forward. We will focus on the downtown redevelopment."
Garner, the former 16-year mayor, said, "I congratulate Mayor Hall for doing a good job. The people have spoken. I wish him well on the redevelopment of the village."
Egan, Onorato win; Schafenberg loses
The mayor's seat was uncontested. Incumbent John Egan and challenger Michael Onorato defeated Mary Carole Schafenberg for two trustee seats.
Longtime resident Nicholas Busa, who ran on an anti-absentee landlord platform and helped persuade residents to vote to incorporate the village in 2010, and incumbent trustee Gary Stiriz edged out incumbent trustee Carol Bissonette for two board seats. The mayor's seat held by Bill Biondi was uncontested.
Newcomer Daniel White and incumbent trustee Douglas Dahlgard defeated incumbent J. Ted Naughton for two open seats on the village board.
Two incumbents, newcomer win
Longtime resident Dr. Roy Nelson lost to incumbents Tab Hauser and Robert McNamara and their running mate, newcomer Eileen Mills, for three trustee seats.
While the mayor's seat was uncontested, incumbents David Schwartz and Mark Collins beat challengers Hamid Sharifiazad and Shlomo Zenou for two trustee seats.
Phillips, Robins win,
Incumbent Mary Bess Phillips and Julia Robins beat challenger Bill Swiskey for two trustee seats.
Veteran trustee Werther defeated
Longtime trustee Larry Werther was ousted from his seat, as incumbent trustee George Durham and newcomer Dennis Walsh claimed the two trustee positions.
Werther, the longtime New Line Party member and trustee -- and briefly, mayor -- was dropped from his party's ticket. The party named Walsh, a retired New York City police officer, as his replacement in December, after which Werther mounted an independent bid.
Durham said the vote signaled that residents "want a board that can work together. That's a decisive factor in the village, that the board has to be able to work together. They didn't want an indecisive board," he said.
The campaign involved spirited exchanges between Werther and the mayor, Scott Strauss, who was uncontested. "Larry Werther's done a lot of good things for the village," Durham said. "He had a long run, and I wish him all the best."
With Aisha Al-Muslim, Jennifer Barrios, Scott Eidler, Mackenzie Issler, Nicholas Spangler and Patrick Whittle