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Assemb. Joseph Saladino appointed Oyster Bay town supervisor


The Oyster Bay Town Board appointed Assemb. Joseph Saladino (R-Massapequa) as town supervisor during a meeting on Tuesday Jan. 31, 2017. Saladino replaces John Venditto, who resigned Jan. 4, after being indictment on federal corruption charges. (Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger) Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

The Oyster Bay Town Board on Tuesday appointed Assemb. Joseph Saladino as town supervisor.

The Republican from Massapequa, who was re-elected to his Assembly post in November, said he was needed in his hometown.

“My destiny is to come home and to rebuild the town of Oyster Bay,” Saladino said in an address to the public after his swearing in. “A sad and unfortunate chapter in our town’s history is coming to an end. Today we begin anew.”

He replaces John Venditto, who is under indictment on federal corruption charges. Venditto resigned Jan. 4 after a 35-year career in government.

Saladino was approved with five yes votes at a special meeting shortly after it began at 9 a.m. Councilman Anthony Macagnone abstained.

Saladino said he plans to bring to the job fiscal responsibility, transparency and high ethical standards. He also said he wants to keep the town affordable.

“Today we begin to restore the people’s faith in our town government,” Saladino said. “Today we return town government to a path it had followed for so many years, a path that had made Oyster Bay a model of fiscally conservative leadership and provided residents an unparalleled suburban quality of life.”

Saladino did not provide specific details about his plans. He has served as an assemblyman since he won a special election in 2004 and left his position as Oyster Bay’s director of operations.

Several people attending the meeting said the “fourth time’s a charm” in reference to the previous attempts to install Saladino that were postponed.

Oyster Bay Democratic chairman David Gugerty said in a statement that Saladino’s appointment was “a page out of the same old crony playbook that led the town into financial ruin.”

Saladino was sworn in by State Supreme Court Judge Stephen Bucaria as Saladino’s sister, Virginia Ewen, held the town’s historic Townsend Bible.

On Jan. 6, acting Supervisor and Councilman Joseph Muscarella held an emergency meeting to vote on Saladino’s appointment, but three of the six-member town board did not attend. The full board didn’t take action at its Jan. 10 meeting, either.

Saladino addressed the town board at the Jan. 25 meeting, stating that he had expected to be sworn in that day and announcing his candidacy for supervisor. He also warned of the danger of the town being led by a “headless horseman.”

On Tuesday, Muscarella, who remains deputy supervisor, in his last act as acting supervisor said the board needed to make the appointment.

“It’s in the best interest of the residents and town government,” Muscarella said.

At that, Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia, who had been one of those absent from the Jan. 6 meeting, made a motion to appoint Saladino and defended the board’s process.

“There is nothing wrong with there being dissenting opinions amongst our board,” Alesia said. She added, “We should not be criticized for having taken our time in making such a significant decision and one with such far reaching and important ramifications as choosing the next supervisor.”

Alesia then praised Saladino as having been a “forceful leader of his [Assembly] district” who would be a “a great leader of this board and great leader of this town.”

Councilwoman Michele Johnson seconded the motion which passed with five ayes and one abstention.

Macagnone, who abstained from the vote and who, along with Alesia and Councilman Christopher Coschignano had not attended the Jan. 6 meeting, said afterward in a text message that he wished Saladino “the best of luck . . . I will assist him anyway that I possible can.”

Coschignano said in Jan. 19 email that he had “decided not to comment on town matters” for an indefinite period of time.

Last week Muscarella had said he wanted a unanimous vote for Saladino but this week he was willing to accept five ayes on the six-member board.

On Thursday, Muscarella was among the executive leaders of the Nassau County Republican Committee who nominated Saladino to run as supervisor in November, setting up a potential primary challenge if the all-Republican board had selected a different supervisor to fill out the remainder of Venditto’s term, which ends on Dec. 31.

Gugerty said the Democratic Party will announce a slate of candidates for Supervisor, Town Board and Town Clerk within weeks.

Saladino will submit a letter of resignation from the Assembly to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, town spokeswoman Marta Kane said in an email Tuesday. Kane said it would be effective retroactively to midnight Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo could call a special election to replace Saladino’s now vacant Assembly seat. Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the governor’s office was “reviewing the situation.”

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