Mineola board lengthens terms for mayor, trustees

Mineola Village Hall

Mineola Village Hall (Credit: Amy Onorato, 2012)

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Mineola village officials voted this week to expand the length of terms for its mayor and trustees, from two to four years.

The five-member board unanimously approved the resolution Wednesday night, after a 90-minute back-and-forth with residents. The majority who spoke supported the extension, while several in attendance opposed it.

Village officers must run for the four-year terms, which will take effect in the 2016 and 2018 elections. The law does not extend terms for any current office holders, officials stressed.

Mayor Scott Strauss said the measure allows the village to save on election costs down the road -- because elections will take place every other year, beginning in 2016, instead of annually. The law promotes "a stable continuity," he added.

"There is a growth-in-office issue," Strauss said, pointing to neighbor villages such as East Williston and Westbury that have four-year terms for mayor and trustee. "Nobody goes to trustee college before being elected."

Strauss identified a potential downfall of the new law -- "if the electorate makes a bad choice and votes in a bum."

But to that end, he said, "careful vetting is required," and "questionable candidates just shouldn't be elected at all."

Some residents argued the village ought to have placed the resolution on a ballot referendum, but Strauss said that was not required of the board.

"It does reduce your accountability to the public," Elizabeth Henley, an attorney and village resident for more than 30 years, said. "You get continuity by being re-elected, if we think you're doing a good job."

Another resident, Ed Savarese, praised the proposal, saying it "creates continuity" with major projects.

Strauss mentioned the multiyear effort to draw in apartment buildings near the train station. "A certain stable continuity in village leadership helped get this project to the finish line," he said.

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