Oyster Bay Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. announced he is challenging fellow Republican Joseph Saladino for town supervisor in November, but he will be running on the Democratic line to do so.
Altadonna will be at the top of the Democratic slate but will remain a registered Republican, he said.
“Sitting in my clerk’s office these past five years, I personally was witness to the waste, mismanagement and the suspension of free flow of information — they censored information,” Altadonna said in a news conference Tuesday in Massapequa Park. “The reason why I’m running is to give people equal representation, and stop waste and mismanagement.”
Altadonna, 59, was mayor of Massapequa Park, where he still lives, when he was appointed town clerk in 2013. He has been re-elected twice and in 2017 he was the biggest vote-getter for a townwide elective office, followed by Saladino.
Altadonna said the process to run a primary against Saladino on the Republican ticket was too burdensome for an individual.
“This election should not be about party; it should be about who is most qualified to fulfill the role as supervisor of the town of Oyster Bay,” Altadonna said in an interview.
Saladino responded in an email, "I’m confident homeowners will support my record of cutting taxes against Jim Altadonna's record of hiking taxes . . . during his time as a village mayor."
“The Nassau County Republican Committee is disappointed and shocked that a Republican Oyster Bay official would join with the Democrat’s tax-hiking [Nassau County Executive Laura] Curran team in his bid for Oyster Bay Town Supervisor," committee spokesman Mike Deery said in a statement. Deery added that Saladino had an “impressive record of cutting town taxes, reducing municipal debt and implementing meaningful ethics reform.”
Altadonna said his platform includes term limits and the creation of districts for board members to represent different parts of the town rather than being elected at large.
Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs said Altadonna will be designated the party’s candidate at its convention Wednesday.
“We want to elect candidates who will clean up Oyster Bay, be committed to good government, open and honest government, and we believe Jim Altadonna fits both of those criteria,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs said Altadonna would appeal to Oyster Bay voters who “tend to lean a bit more Republican.”
Altadonna began distancing himself from GOP party insiders during former Supervisor John Venditto’s administration, staying out of political caucus meetings Venditto usually held before town board meetings.
Altadonna and Saladino have frequently clashed. Altadonna last year addressed the town board to argue against raising the parking fees by 400 percent at commuter lots, which the town board approved and Saladino has defended. Altadonna has also refused to certify Freedom of Information Law requests that are diverted to the town attorney’s office.
Saladino was appointed in 2017 to replace Venditto.