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Amityville’s former Mayor Peter Imbert says village is going in the wrong direction

Peter Imbert, then-mayor of the Village of Amityville,

Peter Imbert, then-mayor of the Village of Amityville, is pictured on Dec. 12, 2012. Credit: Erin Geismar

Former Amityville Village Mayor Peter Imbert and Mayor James Wandell traded barbs this week after Imbert said he is considering a run for the Village Board in 2017 and criticized the current administration.

“We’re not on the right track,” Imbert said Monday morning in an interview with Newsday. “I think we’ve fallen back, and I can help.”

In the interview, Imbert faulted Wandell’s administration for alienating members of the village police, fire and highway departments and argued that many of the successes it claims piggyback on work done by Imbert’s administration.

“I’m sorry he feels this way, but the record of the past administration speaks for itself,” Wandell said in a Tuesday interview.

Wandell, Deputy Mayor Jessica Bernius and Trustee Kevin Smith are up for re-election next year.

Imbert said he will run for trustee if the village’s condition necessitates it. “If I have to, I will run again,” he said.

An Imbert win could reverse the 3-2 Village Board majority Wandell, Bernius and trustee Nick LaLota wield on contentious budget and administrative issues.

Imbert’s comments were among the first he has made publicly since leaving office in 2013 after a 16-year stint at Village Hall.

Imbert recalled how, in his final village board meeting, he invited Wandell to sit on the dais next to him in a gesture of goodwill that he contrasted with what he characterized as the “viciousness” of later attacks on his record.

His criticisms appeared to be a rejection of the Wandell administration’s position that it inherited a village in financial crisis and is gradually setting matters right.

Wandell and LaLota have pointed to a reduced deficit, budgets brought in under the state-imposed tax levy cap and gradually improving marks from credit ratings agencies as signs of improvement.

“I don’t know how to make cocktail conversation on a ship that’s sinking while we’re still bailing out all the water,” LaLota said.

LaLota said he and Imbert talked Tuesday, adding that he expects a “detente” in the future.

Imbert’s supporters say the former mayor helped lead the village through the recent recession.

“He was there during some of the harder financial times of this country,” Trustee Dennis Siry said. “Imbert was there, still getting things done, and they don’t give him credit.”

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