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Berland steps down from Huntington Town board after 16 years

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland officially resigns her

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland officially resigns her post with the town during tonights Town Board meeting. Dec. 13, 2017. She was elected to serve on the Suffolk County Legislature. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Longtime Huntington Town board member Susan Berland, a Democrat, resigned effective at the end of Wednesday night’s board meeting.

Her resignation clears the way for the five-member Democratic-majority board to appoint a replacement.

“It’s now time for me to move to the Suffolk County Legislature,” said Berland, who was elected last month to represent the 16th District.

Berland said her sadness at leaving the Huntington board is “tempered by the knowledge” that Joan Cergol, executive director of the town’s Economic Development Corporation and director of the town Community Development Agency, is expected to be her successor.

Because Wednesday’s meeting was the last of the current board, a vote would have to be taken at the end of the meeting or a special town board meeting held to appoint Cergol.

Cergol, a Democrat, would serve one year as an appointee and then would have to run for election for the final year of the four-year term.

On Jan. 1, a Republican majority will take control of the board, led by Assemb. Chad Lupinacci, who won the supervisor seat last month, along with his running mate for town board, attorney Edmund Smyth. Remaining from the current board will be Democrat Mark Cuthbertson and Independence Party member Gene Cook.

Lupinacci said he was surprised by the timing of Berland’s resignation.

“I thought Councilwoman Berland was going to resign at the end of this month,” he said. “I think the people voted for a new direction in Huntington, and the current town board should have allowed the new administration coming in to appoint the vacancy.”

In the Suffolk legislature, Berland replaces Steve Stern, who was term-limited out. The district covers Commack, Dix Hills, East Northport, Elwood, Melville and South Huntington in the Town of Huntington, Deer Park in the Town of Babylon, and Brentwood and North Bay Shore in the Town of Islip.

Berland was first elected to the Huntington Town Board in 2001 and re-elected to four-year terms in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

In her resignation speech she thanked residents for the opportunity to serve.

“It’s been a great privilege,” she said. “I’ve always strived to do the best job possible, and I always make decisions that are not political and are in the best interest of the people.”

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