Former Smithtown town attorney John Zollo kicked off his campaign for town supervisor this week, promising to revitalize a town he described as adrift while swiping at incumbent Patrick Vecchio’s age and tenure in office.
“The town is starting to show the effects of neglect and a lack of vision,” said Zollo, 57, outlining a platform that includes improvements to parks and infrastructure, completion of a long-awaited master plan and engagement with civic associations, chambers of commerce and school boards.
In remarks Wednesday night in an Elks Club ballroom to a crowd of 150 — including town Republican chairman Bill Ellis — who paid $50 each, Zollo returned frequently to the subject of his former boss, an 87-year-old Republican who has declined repeatedly to say whether he will seek re-election.
“After 40 years with the same supervisor, it is time for Patrick Vecchio to step aside,” Zollo said, promising to avoid campaign attacks but describing his possible opponent as being “in failing health.”
Under Vecchio, Smithtown’s Town Board stripped Zollo of his town job in 2014. Some have called that move political payback for Zollo’s support of board member Robert Creighton in a primary race against Vecchio.
Vecchio has been supervisor since 1978. He declined in an interview to comment on Zollo’s remarks: “I’m just not going to respond to that,” Vecchio said. “I don’t even know if I’m going to be a candidate.”
According to his office, Vecchio is the longest-presiding supervisor in New York State. He has in recent years trounced both Democrats in general elections and Republicans in primary challenges.
Zollo has said he will seek the Republican and Conservative nominations.
Ellis said in an interview Friday that his attendance does not mean he is endorsing Zollo, though he echoed the candidate’s comments about Vecchio’s health. The GOP plans a May 11 screening for all candidates, Ellis said.