Venditto to serve full term if re-elected
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In the wake of the resignation this week of Town Clerk Steven Labriola, who said he had been interested in the job if Venditto had retired, Venditto, 63, confirmed on Monday what political leaders have been saying in recent weeks -- that after 16 years of leading the town he's not ready to leave.
There has been speculation that the Massapequa resident might have had enough, given the town's financial nosedive this year and the damage caused by superstorm Sandy. The thinking was that he would run for re-election and then resign to allow the town board to name a replacement who could then run as an incumbent two years later. That kind of transition is standard operating procedure in the GOP-controlled town.
But Venditto said in an interview: "I would not like my legacy to be that I walked away in the middle of the financial difficulties."
He also said he wants to oversee the complete restoration of facilities damaged by Sandy, ensure the former Cerro Wire property in Syosset will be developed in a way the town and residents favor rather than an upscale shopping mall, and complete park improvements in South Farmingdale and Plainview.
"My plan now is to seek re-election," Venditto said. "God willing, I'll serve another full term. I just never seem to get tired of the job. I love the town, being born and raised here and watching my children grow up here."
As Moody's Investors Service lowered the town's bond rating two steps Monday from Aa3 to A2, Venditto said, "the economy has put great pressure on the town." But he added that "I feel very strongly that we're on the road to recovery. We've done some right things that will right the ship financially."
Those include buyouts and a renegotiated contract with town workers. "Going forward I think you're going to see the bond rating go up and the town's finances improve."
With Labriola starting Friday as chief of staff for County Comptroller George Maragos, Venditto said the town board is likely to appoint a new clerk. That person would then run as an incumbent in November. He said Labriola's announcement "took a lot of people by surprise but my guess is that there would be a lot of interest in it."
Republican party sources say about a half-dozen people are vying for the job but there is no front-runner.
Labriola, 50, in his fifth two-year term, made $114,000 in the elected town post and will be paid $167,000 by the county.
Maragos noted that Labriola brings 28 years of governmental experience, including seven years in the Assembly.