Oyster Bay Town Councilman Christopher Coschignano resigned Tuesday night and a divided board quickly regained its footing and appointed Massapequa Water District Commissioner Thomas Hand to replace him.
The board voted 4-2 to appoint Hand, but not before Councilman Anthony Macagnone shouted “No!” when asked for his vote.
The Nassau GOP nominated Hand as a candidate for the council at their convention May 18 in Levittown. The party also named current councilmembers Michele Johnson and Louis Imbroto as their candidates in the fall election.
Macagnone said he objected to Hand’s appointment because Nassau Republicans had nominated him as a candidate for the seat.
“It’s wrong to appoint someone who is the party’s designated candidate for office,” Macagnone said in explaining his vote. “Open and transparent? I don’t know.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia also voted no, but said she would vote for Hand in November.
“It’s inappropriate to vote for him at this time,” Alesia said.
Imbroto, who was appointed earlier this year, voted for Hand’s appointment because he said the board needs all seats filled.
“It’s very important that the people have representation and that seat doesn’t remain vacant,” Imbroto said.
The vote, like Coschignano’s resignation, was not previously announced. It was held immediately following Coschignano’s resignation without discussion and had to be repeated due to procedural errors.
Hand’s appointment was the third this year to the all-Republican board.
Supervisor Joseph Saladino swore Hand in. Saladino was appointed in January to replace John Venditto who resigned to focus on his legal defense against federal corruption charges.
Coschignano had already announced he would not run again but had not previously said whether he would fill out the remainder of his term.
He said it had been a privilege to serve the people of Oyster Bay but he wanted to spend more time with his family.
“I’ve come to a point in my life when my service to my family needs to take on a more prominent role,” Coschignano told the board.
Hand said he was humbled to serve the town.
“I realize that words are not enough,” Hand said. “It will be actions that validate performance.”
His appointment rankled Democrats running against Saladino, Imbroto, Hand and Councilwoman Michele Johnson in November.
“Is that democracy?“ said supervisor candidate Marc Herman during an executive session of the board. “Democracy is when people announce they’re going to run and people vote for them.”
Eva Pearson, a Democratic candidate for town board, criticized Saladino’s oft-repeated slogan that “it’s a new day in Oyster Bay.”
“This is another example of how it is the same day in Oyster Bay,” Pearson said. “It’s not a new day in Oyster Bay when we have these continuing appointments.”