Huntington Town Board member Joan Cergol will seek election to fill the final year of a four-year unexpired term.
Cergol is serving one year as an appointee and needs to run for election for the final year of former board member Susan Berland’s four-year term. Berland resigned in December after being elected to the Suffolk County Legislature, and Cergol was appointed to the seat.
Cergol, a Democrat, announced her candidacy at a fundraiser in her honor Monday night. Citing her accomplishments during the past four months, including sponsoring resolutions to livestream town meetings and continuing efforts to revitalize Huntington Station, she said she’s running to keep the seat in order to help shape the “new direction” the town was promised in the GOP’s campaign slogan last year.
“Without the benefit of open and honest dialogue as to how we chart the course for any direction we wish to take, we will only get lost,” she said during her speech. “I believe there is a need for diverse voices on our town board . . . a need for gender diversity on our town board, I believe that our government leaders, elected officials, appointed policy makers and our workforce should reflect the town’s diversity.”
On hand to offer support for Cergol’s announcement were former Rep. Steve Israel, Berland, Town Board Member Mark Cuthbertson and other officials.
Robert Zimmerman, Democratic National Committeeman for New York, called Cergol the kind of candidate needed to re-energize the Democratic Party.
“She represents the kind of experience, new way of thinking and the kind of global leadership that is essential to rebuild the Democratic Party and also essential to give the Democratic Party a future,” Zimmerman said at the fundraiser.
Huntington Republican Town chairwoman Toni Tepe said the GOP candidate for Cergol’s seat will be announced after the April 24 special election to fill the State Assembly seat vacated when Chad Lupinacci was elected Huntington Town Supervisor.
Cergol, 56, served for 16 years in various town capacities, including most recently as director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, executive director of the town’s Economic Development Corp. and executive director of the town’s Local Development Corp.
Cergol’s appointment was the last act of the previous town board in its final meeting of 2017.
Berland’s resignation cleared the way for the five-member Democratic-majority board to appoint Cergol. Outgoing Town Supervisor Frank P. Petrone and outgoing board member Tracey Edwards voted for the appointment along with board member Mark Cuthbertson. Independence Party member Gene Cook voted no.
The current town board is made up of two Republicans — Lupinacci and board member Edmund Smyth — Democrats Cuthbertson and Cergol, and Independence Party member Cook.
“I believe that the best solutions are ones that incorporate varying voices and differing views,” Cergol said during her speech. “The best public policy is inclusive and considers a broad spectrum of needs and not just those of a few. We need counterbalance of voices of those who only know what they don’t want but offer no positive alternative.”