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Manorhaven village meetings suspended while disputed election is settled in court

Manorhaven cancelled all official meetings because one candidate

Manorhaven cancelled all official meetings because one candidate in the unresolved race has brought an Article 78 complaint. The case is pending an appeal, so the village won't certify the results. Credit: Leslie Gross

Manorhaven officials have suspended upcoming village meetings while the disputed election results are addressed in court, Clerk-Treasurer Leslie Gross said Wednesday.

The village canceled meetings planned for Thursday and Aug. 4, Gross said.

Trustee candidate James Avena, who leads Deputy Mayor Lucretia Steele by one vote in the June 16 election, filed what is known as an Article 78 motion in court seeking to be sworn in and to cancel future meetings. An Article 78 proceeding is a challenge to a decision made by a governmental body.

Nassau State Supreme Court Justice Daniel Palmieri on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order halting the meetings. The case is to be heard Aug. 4.

In the race for two trustee seats, incumbent Rita Di Lucia was the top vote-getter, and her election is not in dispute. If Avena is certified the winner, his Manorhaven Residents Party would take the majority on the five-member board. Steele, Mayor Giovanna Giunta and trustee Di Lucia are on the Manorhaven People's Party.

Steele is contesting an order by another judge, Timothy Driscoll, that a vote not be counted because of a residency issue.

"I wanted to be sworn in," Avena said Wednesday. "We don't think they should hold a board meeting without all the trustees."

Gross said the village can't certify the results until the appeal is resolved and, in the interim, the village should be able to conduct business.

Three residential cases are pending before the planning board but are now on hold because of the election dispute, Gross said, adding that angry residents have called the village about their halted building plans.

She said Avena has "crippled" the village because officials cannot set dates for future meetings or pay vendors. Bills must be approved at trustee meetings, she said. "We have to wait two weeks and we're going to be late on all of our bills."

Avena said that characterization was "unfair" and that officials should wait for the appeal to be resolved.

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