Three-member majority at stake in Amityville village election

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The Amityville village board race gives voters a choice between two candidates, incumbent Nick LaLota and Wesley Powell, and the outcome will preserve or end a three-member majority on the board.

LaLota, part of a majority that includes Mayor James Wandell and Deputy Mayor Jessica Bernius, has often provided the administration's public voice for initiatives like term limits for trustees and a freeze on base pay for some police officers.

The chief of staff for State Senator Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore), LaLota, 35, ran the Amityville First campaign that elected Wandell and Bernius last year and was appointed by Wandell when Deputy Mayor Peter Casserly resigned. He is a member of that party.

Powell, 55, of the Union Party of Amityville, is a funeral home director in the village, the son of former trustee Wesley Powell and father of an Amityville volunteer firefighter. If elected he said he would focus on roads and quality of life issues like faster pothole repairs, implementation of a five-year road improvement plan and stronger code enforcement. He is a member of the downtown revitalization committee, a position to which Wandell appointed him before Powell announced his candidacy.

The winner will serve out the remaining year in Casserly's term.

Wandell and Bernius have endorsed LaLota, while trustees Kevin Smith and Dennis Siry attended Powell's campaign kickoff and Siry said he supports his campaign.

And, while LaLota, Wandell and Bernius took voluntary 20 percent pay cuts soon after taking office, Powell said he would take no pay at all until all potholes are filled, the village beach is fully open after superstorm Sandy related repairs and the deficit is eliminated.

LaLota highlights his stewardship of village finances, including what he said was the first ever village budget to come in under the 2 percent tax cap and the voluntary pay cut that he said permitted the elimination of municipal beach fees.

Referring to LaLota's call for a freeze in village police base pay, Powell said last month he doubted whether police spending could be reduced because the current contract, which lasts until 2018, calls for salary parity with the county force and was renegotiated in 2013.

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"I would love to tell you the police are going to renegotiate their contract every year," he said. "But the fact is, they're not going to."

Voting is March 18 from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Polling place locations are online at amityville.com.

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