The Huntington Town Board has appointed longtime resident Edward William Billia to its ethics board.
The 83-year-old veteran, chaplain and former educator was named to the five-member ethics board last month to fill a term that expires Dec. 31. Billia is replacing Stanley Heller, a retired certified public accountant, who stepped down earlier this year. "I'm honored to be asked to serve," said Billia, who has lived in Huntington Station for five decades.
Tracey Edwards, who issued the invitation with fellow board member Susan Berland, described Billia as "a staple in our community. He has consistently given advice and counsel to both residents and the first-responder community, and one of the things he has taught is ethics."
The ethics board has come under scrutiny recently from residents who ask if there is a conflict of interest since the town board appoints ethics board members, who may have to make decisions about town board members' actions.
"Then they made a mistake with me," Billia said. "I'm looking out for my town, my family; I'm looking out for where I live and what's ethical. Let's have a clear-cut policy. I don't care who it would be; if it comes to the ethics board, they need to take care of it ASAP."
He said he disagreed with the ethics board's previous practice of annual public hearings and is glad the board is moving to quarterly public hearings under the proposed new ethics code that is expected to be adopted next month.
Billia, a Republican, is a former elementary school teacher in Freeport and Commack and a retired science and mathematics consultant for an educational publishing company.
He was the business manager for the St. Hugh of Lincoln Roman Catholic Church from 1983 until he retired in 1996.
He is a Huntington Manor fire chaplain, serves as a chaplain for Huntington Hospital and is the chief chaplain for the New York State Association of Fire Chaplains. He is president of the Federation of Fire Chaplains, a national group based in Texas.
The current and proposed town ethics code requires that no more than two members of the same political party serve on the board. Edwards said the board is a member short, and town officials are considering candidates.
The ethics board comprises chairman Howard A. Glickstein and Louis C. England, both Democrats, and Ralph Crafa, a Republican. All are lawyers. Crafa, of Northport, was reappointed last month, and his term ends in 2019.
A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Billia's status with the Huntington Manor fire district.