The mayor of Amityville Village, who won four years ago after a campaign promise of financial improvement, has decided not to run for re-election.
James Wandell was elected in 2013 after the previous mayor, Peter Imbert, served for 16 years in the position, leaving as the village was struggling financially. Wandell’s term ends in March but instead of running for re-election he has decided to throw his support behind village board trustee Nick LaLota, who is running for mayor. LaLota has two years left in his term as trustee.
Wandell said he would instead run for trustee. There are two trustee spots up for re-election in March, those of Kevin Smith and deputy mayor Jessica Bernius. Wandell ran on the same Amityville First Party ticket with Bernius in 2013 and in March she is running with him again on the same ticket, along with LaLota. Smith said he is also running for re-election.
“I am surprised to learn that mayor Wandell is taking a step down position and running for village trustee,” he said in an email, adding that residents should “pay close attention to the upcoming election.”
Wandell, Bernius and LaLota have been a majority voting block on the village board against Smith and trustee Dennis Siry. Soon after his election in 2013, Wandell appointed LaLota to a vacancy on the board left by Peter Casserly who resigned following his run for mayor. LaLota, 38, had run the campaign for Wandell’s ticket.
Wandell, 72, said that when he was elected, the village’s finances were a “pretty bleak picture,” running more than $700,000 in the red with a series of credit rating downgrades. The village is now more than $300,000 in the black, he said, and the village has received upgrades, something he said he didn’t anticipate happening within four years. He said LaLota will continue to help improve Amityville’s finances.
“To turn the village around financially and get the credit rating upgrades and do it within the tax cap four years in a row is something that I’m very proud of and Nick is the financial architect of that,” Wandell said.
Wandell said that with the financial picture more hopeful, and without the time restrictions of being mayor, he can be more hands-on in the village’s downtown revitalization.