Assemb. Joseph Saladino said Tuesday that he is running for Oyster Bay Town supervisor after the Town Board ended its meeting without making an appointment to replace John Venditto, who stepped down earlier this month.
Speaking at the end of the public comment section of the meeting, Saladino (R-Massapequa) said he came to the meeting with the expectation that he would be sworn in by the board and warned that the town should not be run by a “headless horseman.”
But Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Joseph Muscarella, who has been acting as interim supervisor since Venditto left office, said in an interview that the board wasn’t prepared to vote at the meeting and was also waiting a financial rating from Moody’s Investors Services.
“There wasn’t a clear unanimous vote for him to become Supervisor and I was trying to get everyone to give their support behind the assemblyman,” Muscarella said. “There were some board members that did not think he was the best candidate.”
Though a unanimous vote isn’t required, Muscarella said he didn’t want dissenting votes on the appointment.
Venditto, who is under indictment on federal corruption charges, resigned from a 35-year career in government on Jan. 4.
Muscarella had expected Saladino to be appointed by the board at an emergency meeting and sworn in on Jan. 6 but there wasn’t a quorum. On Tuesday the board entered into an executive session of which Saladino attended a portion, Muscarella said.
Afterward, Saladino told the town board that he had come Tuesday with “the expectation that the board would take a vote, make an appointment and swear me in as the supervisor of the town of Oyster Bay.”
He said the town “requires a full-time supervisor to take charge of matters, fix its problems, and get the town back on track … it is time to right this ship and get away from any chance of the town being run by a headless horseman.”
That comment led Bayville resident Donald Lopez, 51, to yell “show some respect” at Saladino.
Muscarella said in an interview that he had informed Saladino ahead of the meeting that board action was unlikely on Tuesday. One reason, Muscarella said, was that the town was waiting for a rating from Moody’s Investors Service and he wanted continuity of leadership until then.
Former Hempstead Supervisor Greg Peterson said he came to the meeting to see Saladino sworn in.
“The town board had an opportunity to put somebody very qualified in the office of supervisor and whatever motivated them they messed up,” Peterson said.
“They’re obviously in disarray in Oyster Bay,” said Nassau County Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs. Last week Democrats interviewed potential candidates to run for town positions in November. Jacobs said they will have a “good line up.”
Under state law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo could call a special election to replace Venditto. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in an email that they would “review the situation.”