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Long Beach council swears in new members amid division

Long Beach Councilman John Bendo speaks after being

Long Beach Councilman John Bendo speaks after being sworn in during an induction ceremony on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Credit: Barry Sloan

The newly sworn members of the Long Beach City Council urged Monday that the group work together even while clear fractures remain.

The all-Democratic council held a New Year’s Day induction ceremony at City Hall with the theme of charting a new path forward for the city.

Incumbent Scott Mandel and newly elected member John Bendo were sworn in to four-year terms as the two top vote-getters in the election.

Councilwoman Chumi Diamond, who was appointed in February, was elected to a two-year term.

Council members were divided in choosing the ceremonial role of president by electing Anthony Eramo by a 3-2 vote, with Bendo and Councilwoman Anissa Moore opposed. Bendo had nominated Moore as president, but the motion failed without a vote. Diamond was elected vice president by a 4-1 vote, with Moore opposed.

Bendo, who is a nuclear scientist and served as president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, is the only newcomer to join the council and led all other candidates in votes during the November election. He is a longtime watchdog of the City Council and said the council should not be beholden to Democratic infighting that has emerged during recent years.

“If we all bunker down in our political silos and make this about egos and special interests, only the city suffers,” Bendo said in his induction speech. “For the betterment of the community, I am willing to focus on the greater good. The question is, who will join me?”

Mandel and Diamond spoke of accomplishments of the City Council and said the city must continue to manage finances and improve infrastructure and storm protection.

Mandel is the only remaining council member who served during superstorm Sandy and began the effort to rebuild the city while coping with finances on the brink of bankruptcy.

“When I was first elected, Long Beach was a much different place, both physically and financially,” Mandel said. “I’m proud of making it a shining example of growth, resiliency and leadership.”

Diamond began her first elected term touting a new eight-year contract reached last year with city union workers. She said the city will continue to battle increasing costs and racial bias and also work to streamline sewer consolidation.

“The city continues to face many challenges,” Diamond said. “Whether it be ensuring fiscal health at a time when running a municipality of this size continues to increase each year or finding new and innovative ways to protect our community from increasingly powerful storms . . . together as a community we can overcome each of these challenges.”

The council will be tasked with finding a new city manager to replace Jack Schnirman, who was elected to Nassau County comptroller. It also will search for a new comptroller to replace Shari James, who is leaving to work as a deputy under Schnirman.

Police Commissioner Michael Tangney began serving Monday as acting city manager in a dual role for an indefinite term until a permanent replacement is chosen. He is not taking any additional salary.

Tangney remains under investigation by the Nassau County District Attorney in connection with a traffic stop in which a Syosset motorist said Tangney punched him. Tangney has denied the allegations.

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