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Manorhaven trustee sworn in after rival candidate drops appeal over election results

A handout photo of Jim Avena, appointed to

A handout photo of Jim Avena, appointed to the Manorhaven board in 2012, on May 13, 2013. Credit: Handout

Village of Manorhaven officials swore in a new trustee early Thursday, after more than six weeks of court battles.

James Avena, who won by a single vote, recited the oath of office at 10 a.m. Deputy Mayor Lucretia Steele dropped her appeal, said village clerk-treasurer Leslie Gross, who conducted the swearing-in ceremony.

The village certified the results for that contested trustee race, 416-415. The re-election of incumbent trustee Rita Di Lucia, who received 441 votes, was not in dispute.

The victory capped a return to the board for Avena, who has not served there since 2012 and lost two previous contests. He was appointed to the board in 2012, but lost in an election that June. The outgoing mayor then reappointed him to the trustees board, but three days later, new Mayor Giovanna Giunta removed him.

Last year, Avena lost by 15 votes to Giunta. Avena's running mates on the Manorhaven Residents Party, Kevin Gately Jr. and Priscilla von Roeschlaub, won seats held by incumbents.

Avena, Gately and von Roeschlaub now are in the majority, putting Di Lucia and Giunta in the minority on the Manorhaven Revival Party.

Avena in an interview Thursday thanked his supporters and said he wants to review potential staff appointments. "The three of us are on the board now, we in fact have a bloc of votes," he said, while noting, "each one of us is an individualized trustee."

Avena said he would prioritize agenda items and evaluate appointments, but he did not want to comment on specific openings.

Steele was first elected in 2012. Gross said a decision on the new deputy mayor has yet to be made.

The trustee position is $3,000 a year, Gross said.

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