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East Williston trustee candidates eye quality-of-life issues

From left, Anthony Casella, incumbent trustee Chris Siciliano

From left, Anthony Casella, incumbent trustee Chris Siciliano and Ellen Ritz are all vying for one open trustee seat in East Williston. Credit: Handout

Incumbent village trustee Chris Siciliano is being challenged by political newcomer Ellen Ritz and former village Mayor Anthony Casella in this year’s election in East Williston, where quality of life is a main campaign issue.

Siciliano, 53, is running on the Neighborhood Party line for a second four-year term. He said that as the trustee liaison to the Department of Public Works, he assisted in cleanup efforts after superstorm Sandy, procuring new street-sweepers and handling other quality-of-life issues.

Siciliano said that if re-elected, he will continue his efforts to improve the village and hopes to work on new projects such as renovating the East Williston Avenue streetscape and improving the village historic district.

Siciliano is also a member of the village Historic Committee and an active member of the East Williston Fire Department where he previously served as chief and a fire commissioner. He called the continuing water supply negotiations with Williston Park the village’s “most important issue.”

“We’ve made inroads in our negotiations with Williston Park, but still have some points to iron out,” Siciliano said.

Longtime East Williston resident Casella, of the Better EW Party line, said the water supply issue was the main reason he’s running for office again. The former mayor said he is firmly against East Williston building its own well and wants to reach a harmonious resolution with Williston Park to continue to supply East Williston’s water.

“It makes sense for us to continue our relationship with Williston Park,” Casella, 78, said. “We rely on our neighbors; it’s important to maintain good relations. We’ve had two years, maybe more, of unnecessary back and forth between the villages. . . . Let’s sit down and figure it out.”

Casella said his years as mayor from 1991 to 1995, serving as a trustee for a decade before that and his background as a former lawyer have equipped him well to negotiate with Williston Park. During his tenure on the board, he said, he helped finalize several water supply agreements with the neighboring village.

Former East Williston school board president Ellen Ritz is running for trustee on the Common Sense Party line. She said the village water supply was a “very important crisis” but that she would need to examine the facts and information before making a decision.

Ritz, a registered nurse, said her six-year tenure on the school board has prepared her to make quality-of-life decisions and deal with budgets, negotiations and other municipal work.

“I am dedicated to eliminating unnecessary expenses, efficient deployment of personnel and effective allocation of resources — all without jeopardizing our mission,” said Ritz, 67.

Ritz is also a member of the East Williston Beautification Committee and is on the board of the National Alliance of Mental Illness.

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