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Mastic Beach trustee election marked by ballot lawsuits

Mastic Beach village hall is seen in this

Mastic Beach village hall is seen in this undated photo. Credit: Johnny Milano

Four candidates are vying for two trustee seats in a Mastic Beach election marked by disputes and lawsuits in the past month.

Incumbent trustees and New Horizon party members Betty Manzella and Bruce Summa will officially be on the March 15 ballot.

But Suffolk Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Santorelli on Tuesday decided to not reinstate a lawsuit on behalf of New Wave party challengers Joseph Johnson and Darrin Harsch to get their names back on the ballot after they were removed last month for lack of signatures.

Johnson and Harsch have promised to continue campaigning and run as write-in candidates.

Summa, who heads the village department of public works and is deputy mayor, said his top priority if re-elected is to refurbish vacant and abandoned houses to be sold.

Summa, 61, cited achievements such as purchasing new equipment for the public works department, filling pot holes and paving roads. And “more than 100 illegal rental homes have been inspected by the building department,” under his watch, Summa said.

Manzella, who joined the board in April, is the village liaison to the building department.

“Quality of life is the single most important issue,” said Manzella, 58, adding that, if re-elected, she plans to work toward getting sewers and developing the business districts on Mastic and Neighborhood roads.

“We definitely need some improvements there, but we can only do so much without sewers,” she said.

Manzella said she’s proud the building department hired full-time and part-time staff to help crackdown on housing violations.

“We’ve accomplished a lot. We put the village on better financial footing,” she said.

Johnson cited his being a political outsider as a strength for his candidacy.

“I’m not part of the established order that has plagued this community. We need a responsible government,” said Johnson, 33. “You cannot drive down one block in Mastic Beach and not see a blighted home. There’s been an increase in crime. I cannot allow my children to walk around the block.”

Johnson said that, if elected, he would work to improve quality of life by cracking down on blighted homes, drug dealers and municipal spending, and bring professionalism to the village board of trustees.

Harsch, 49, was unavailable for comment. According to his campaign website, Harsch has “listened to the concerns of our residents and learned about their hopes for the future and now plans on acting on it.”

The Suffolk County Board of Elections last month ruled that Johnson and Harsch didn’t meet the 100-signature threshold to get on the ballot and their names were removed.

They challenged the ruling days later, but Santorelli dismissed their lawsuit because it didn’t name all of the parties involved, court officials said.

On Tuesday, Queens-based attorney Lalit Jain challenged that decision in State Supreme Court in Riverhead on behalf of the New Wave Party candidates and Santorelli denied the motion to reinstate the case, Suffolk County Court public information officer Mary Porter said.

Jain said he planned to file a post-trial memorandum of law possibly on Wednesday to challenge that decision.

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