New Islip Republican chairman William Garbarino and town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, who did everything to stop his election as party chief, have met and are mending fences.
Garbarino and Carpenter met last Thursday in an undisclosed neutral third party’s office for about an hour. Carpenter was accompanied by town attorney Mea Knapp, while Garbarino’s wingman was party vice chair Jay Bower.
”We had a meeting and it went fine,” said Garbarino. “I think it’s fair to say the avenues of communication are open and we agreed that if we have differences we’ll air them in private, not public, and endeavor to provide good government for the Town of Islip.”
“There’s peace in the valley,” said Carpenter, “It’s important to communicate . . . There has to be a clear line — he does the politics, and I do the government. As long as we keep that in mind everyone will be well served.”
Both sides say the chasm between the two created tensions for the party’s rank and file.
“No one likes to be put in a position of having to pick sides,” Carpenter said.
She said uniting the party is important both for this year’s elections and next year’s races. “There a lot at stake and we want to keep people motivated and involved,” Carpenter said.
Garbarino’s and Carpenter’s reconciliation came to light Saturday when Carpenter made an appearance and spoke at the Islip GOP’s “Crash Day,” where activists gather at party headquarters in Bay Shore before fanning out to knock on doors in area neighborhoods. Carpenter also appeared at a GOP breakfast Sunday.
The major reason Carpenter cited for opposing Garbarino was that the Sayville attorney often appears before various town zoning and planning boards for private clients, which the supervisor said posed a potential conflict of interest that would hurt the party with the public.
Garbarino said he and Carpenter did not discuss the issue at length in their meeting, but added there are legal opinions indicating it does not pose a conflict.
“My position is there’s no problem in appearing before the town,” Garbarino said. “I do it with a clear conscience. I see no prohibitions.”
Carpenter called the issue “an open question,” that needs more discussion. “I’m not saying we are going to be in lock step and agree on every issue, but there’s going to communication,” she said.
Carpenter had actively opposed Garbarino with mailings and a barbecue to woo committee members to several alternative names, including former town and Suffolk GOP chairman John Cochrane.
In the end, Carpenter backers failed to show up for the leadership convention in late September when it became clear they did not have the numbers to win. Carpenter then failed to show up at Garbarino’s first fundraiser, citing a schedule conflict
Garbarino, whose son, Andrew, is a state Assemblyman, is an ally of former Islip GOP chairman Frank Tantone, who resigned in June after eight years as leader to run as a cross-endorsed candidate for Family Court judge Tuesday.
Garbarino says it may take time, but the party is on the road to recovery. “Together no one can beat us,” he said. “There’s no sense in fighting each other. We’re supposed to be fighting the other side and getting people elected.”