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Bayville election sees 10 candidates for mayor, village trustee

Top issues in the June 19 election include the proposal for a cross-Sound tunnel and allowing apartments to be developed in empty stores.

Bayville Village Hall in 2013

Bayville Village Hall in 2013 Photo Credit: JC Cherubini

While voters decide whether two cycles of seesawing politics in Bayville come to an end when the June 19 election results are tallied, it’s certain that the majority of the village’s board will be newly elected.

Two sitting trustees — Deputy Mayor Joe Russo III and Robert De Natale — are facing off June 19 to succeed Mayor Paul Rupp, who is stepping down after one term.

The death of trustee Michele Principe in December and trustee Timothy Charon’s decision not to seek reelection mean Bayville’s six-member board of trustees has four open slots and no incumbents running for reelection.

Opposition to a proposed cross-Sound tunnel is a top issue among the candidates. But the Bayville Revitalization Party with Russo and the Taxpayers Part, which put forward De Natale, are divided over multifamily housing in the village.

A change to the town code in 2015 allowed ground-floor apartments in commercial buildings, but a year later a state judge overturned it. The village has appealed the ruling.

De Natale, 77, who retired from the jewelry business, has vowed to end the appeal and to repeal the code to preserve Bayville as a single-family-home community. Russo, 57, a retired information technology manager, said allowing a limited number of apartments to fill vacant storefronts won’t change the character of Bayville.

“Some space that has been vacant on the first floor for a long period of time in some locations could be much better converted to four apartments — a maximum of four apartments within a single structure,” Russo said. “I don’t have an opposition to residential housing even in our business district.

De Natale said zoning changes made under the current administration could lead to the creation of hundreds of new apartments “to an already overburdened and congested village.”

“We strongly oppose any consideration to build a condo, an apartment house, or a seaside inn,” he said.

Russo, who was elected in 2014 when the Bayville Revitalization Party swept the vote, said he wants to continue the financial management practices that led to Moody’s Investors Service upgrading the village credit rating in February to Aa3 from A1.De Natale, who was elected in 2016 when the Taxpayers Party swept into office, said he would like to see a learning center to help students with schoolwork established in the village.

Running for village trustee on the Taxpayers Party line are: David Wright, 51, an attorney; Valerie Belcher, 59, a special-education teacher; Peter Valsecchi, 55, a machinist; and Patricia Farnell.

The Bayville Revitalization Party candidates for trustee are: Jen Jones, 41, a marketing executive; Al Avazis, 50, who works in financial services; Christopher Pflaumer, 55,; and Erika Bruno.

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