The Smithtown Town Council on Tuesday appointed two allies of Supervisor Ed Wehrheim to key town jobs.
The council, short-staffed with only four members, filled Wehrheim’s old seat with Tom Lohmann, who ran unsuccessfully on Wehrheim’s slate for a full council term in the fall. Nicole Garguilo, who ran Wehrheim’s campaign, was appointed to the position of public information officer, a job that has not existed in Smithtown since at least the 1970s but is common amongst Long Island’s larger towns.
Lohmann, 60, spent most of his career as an NYPD homicide detective and currently works as an assistant special investigator for the Suffolk County district attorney, a job he said he would quit to work full time on the council. He would serve through December 2018 and would face election next fall to fill the remainder of Wehrheim’s original council term. Lohmann’s salary as councilman is $65,818.
With Councilwoman Lynne Nowick abstaining, council members voted 3-0 to appoint Lohmann. Nowick said in an interview later that she had wanted more time to examine other candidates and to hear from the public.
Lohmann did not respond to a request for comment.
Town Democrats had earlier in the week criticized Lohmann’s nomination. They argued that the council should instead appoint activist Amy Fortunato, a Democrat who finished third in the November general election behind Nowick and Tom McCarthy.
Also critical was Maria LaMalfa, a jewelry designer who had over the weekend circulated a petition asking the board to appoint Fortunato. “I hope, moving forward, the board will be more transparent with the citizens of this town.”
Wehrheim noted that on the same day the council appointed Lohmann, it also appointed two Democrats to the town’s Conservation Board.
“We do intend to work across party lines,” Wehrheim said.
Garguilo, 38, owns a small marketing firm and said in an interview Monday that she would seek advice from the town attorney about whether to shut it or keep it open. She would not work for the firm while employed by the town, she said, but would consider keeping it open and staffed by a firm employee. The job will pay $75,000 a year.