Oceanside Sanitation District to seek recount or new election

Tom Lanning, left, defeated Oceanside restaurant owner Mike Tom Lanning, left, defeated Oceanside restaurant owner Mike Franzini by 42 votes when paper ballots were combined with about 1,600 votes from two voting machines rented by the sanitation district. Photo Credit: Facebook

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Lawyers for the Oceanside Sanitation District will meet with two candidates in a contested election to either compromise on a recount or hold a new election.

The Oceanside Sanitation Board of Commissioners voted Monday to have an outside attorney, Jack Libert of Uniondale, mediate the June 19 election between the two leading candidates, Tom Lanning and Mike Franzini.

They are running for the vacant seat of retiring Commissioner Fred Morse. The elected position pays $7,500 per year.

The Sanitation District called a special meeting Monday to listen to legal advice on how to handle the results after a voting machine showed a discrepancy of 130 voters who entered a polling place on election night but did not cast votes.

Both voting machines used in the election and a ballot box with 184 uncounted paper ballots were impounded in the past month. The initial tally of about 1,700 votes showed Lanning leading Franzini by 98 votes. A third candidate, Stephen Edmondson, received 12 votes.

Libert met in closed session with the board, the district's attorney, Jerry Cline, and consultant Mike Scarlata. Libert said after the meeting that the board told him to reach a necessary compromise to avoid a lawsuit from either candidate.

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"The board authorized attorneys to try to negotiate a solution for the election, either to certify it or if it's not certifiable, there will have to be a re-election," Libert said. "It's in no one's best interest for this to end up in court."

The district has no rules governing elections, Commissioner Ed Scharfberg said. Special tax districts generally run their own elections and are not overseen by the Nassau Board of Elections, but follow board of elections guidelines. The district collects $7.8 million in taxes from about 13,000 homes and additional taxes from more than 950 businesses.

"At the end of the day, we want to figure out what to do. We've never had an election this big or this close," board chairman Joseph Cibellis said. "The board needs to be protected. The two candidates are steering the ship. We can't say who the next commissioner is."

No meeting between the candidates was set by Monday afternoon, but the board is to meet again at the district offices at 10 a.m. Thursday.

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