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Amityville trustees, ex-administrator vie in village election

Amityville Village Hall is shown here on Feb.

Amityville Village Hall is shown here on Feb. 25, 2014. Credit: Steve Pfost

The March 21 election in Amityville pits the majority party on the village board against the trustees’ two minority members and a challenger who was fired from his job as a village administrator.

Voters will elect a new mayor and two at-large trustees.

Mayor James Wandell decided not to seek re-election and instead is running for a trustee seat. Trustee Nick LaLota is running for mayor against trustee Dennis Siry. Trustees Jessica Bernius and Kevin Smith are seeking re-election, and former village administrator Stephen Greenwald is also running for a trustee seat.

Wandell, LaLota and Bernius represent the majority voting bloc on the board and are all running on the Amityville First Party. Siry, Smith and Greenwald are running on separate party lines.

Candidates from the majority and minority blocs have sparred on social media and during board meetings recently over mailings stating that the Amityville First Party wants to dissolve the village police department, an action that can only be accomplished through public referendum.

LaLota, 38, was appointed to the board in 2013, elected for the remainder of that term in 2014 and elected to a full term in 2015. He touts the improvement of the village’s finances as his proudest accomplishment, including two credit rating upgrades in recent years. LaLota, who is a commissioner for the Suffolk County Board of Elections and a former Navy officer, is promising a no-tax-increase budget within the first 30 days if he is elected mayor. He also said he would make revitalization of the downtown a priority.

Siry, 57, who was first elected trustee in 2011, lists the rebuilding of the Amityville Beach pavilion and new trucks for the highway department among his accomplishments. Siry, who is a lieutenant with the FDNY, said that if elected mayor, he would want to continue to keep the budget under the state-mandated tax cap. He also wants to work on developing the former Brunswick Hospital property.

Wandell, 72, who was elected mayor in 2013, also lists the financial turnaround as an accomplishment. Wandell, who has been a tax preparer for 42 years, credits his party’s work with improving the village’s financial outlook. He also touts the village’s last four budgets that were under the tax cap.

Bernius, who would not provide her age, was elected in 2013 after deciding to run with Wandell, with whom she went to high school. Bernius, a retired physical education and health teacher, said she is most proud to have helped create “zombie” house legislation for the village with which officials are able to register the homes that are in the foreclosure process and press banks to care for them. Bernius said she would like to continue to work on this issue, as well as the village’s road repaving program.

Smith, 59, who was elected to the board in 2013, counts the rebuilding of the beach pavilion and helping to create a community garden in the village among his accomplishments. Smith, who owns a carpentry business, said he would also like to work on developing the Brunswick Hospital property and downtown revitalization.

Greenwald, 52, volunteered for the village for a year on the downtown revitalization committee and then worked for two years as director of operations for the village before being fired by Wandell in August. He said he was only told they were “reorganizing” and Wandell did not comment on the move.

Greenwald, who is unemployed, previously worked as an elementary school teacher. He said that if elected, he would like to create more beach programming and work with the village’s downtown revitalization committee to strengthen and enforce codes, and build a good relationship with the village’s chamber of commerce.


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