The newest member of Nassau County's 19-member legislature is a longtime housing advocate for low-income families and a member of the Westbury school board who says her fiscal management experience helped save the district millions of dollars in administrative costs.
Siela Bynoe, 46, of Westbury, won a special election Tuesday in Nassau's 2nd Legislative District, capturing nearly 80 percent of the vote as she defeated her Republican opponent, Pepitz Blanchard. She will replace Democrat Robert Troiano, who resigned from the seat last month to take a post with the Town of North Hempstead.
Bynoe began her career as a mortgage consultant and loan officer, working with low-income families. "It helped me understand the needs and struggles of working families," Bynoe said.
In 1999, she helped the Long Island Housing Partnership, a private-sector group that develops affordable housing, establish a branch in Hempstead.
After three years, she left to become assistant director of the North Hempstead Housing Authority, which provides homes for low-income families. Since 2006, she has served on the authority's Board of Commissioners.
Sean Rainey, the authority's executive director, said Bynoe played an integral role in 2009 in the $40 million renovation of the Spinney Hill Homes, a 102-unit public housing complex in Manhasset. Rainey called her "an extremely knowledgeable person who really cares about the residents of the housing authority and about the community in general."
Since 2006, Bynoe has been executive director of the Huntington Housing Authority, a public agency with a $9.3 million budget that helps place low-income families in subsidized housing developments.
Bynoe, who is single, has twice been elected to the Westbury school board where she said she helped cut $4.4 million in spending, in part by reducing central office staffing, while staying within the state's two percent property tax cap.
Bynoe also has experienced personal challenges.
In 2003, while working toward her master's degree in public administration from Long Island University, Bynoe was diagnosed with breast cancer. While her doctors recommended taking a leave of absence, Bynoe refused, attending classes on the weekends and working during the day while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
She graduated in 2006 -- two years after her final chemotherapy treatment.
"The experience made me stronger spiritually," said Bynoe, who said she plans to implement health programs for minorities in the 2nd District, including breast cancer screenings.Troiano said Bynoe has the intellect, courage and heart needed to represent the district. "She is going to be an effective voice for the people," he said, "and will fight for the needs of her constituents."