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Lindenhurst village election centers on downtown revitalization

Candidates say they plan to focus on bringing

Candidates say they plan to focus on bringing more businesses to the village's downtown. Credit: Steve Pfost

Downtown revitalization is at the center of campaign platforms for two challengers hoping to unseat the mayor and a trustee in Lindenhurst Village.

Kenneth “Kenny” St. John, 23, is running for mayor against incumbent Thomas Brennan, 65, while Richard “RJ” Renna, 24, is running for one of two trustee positions against incumbents Michael Lavorata, 57, and Joan Masterson, 75. All are four-year terms.

Renna is a registered Republican running on the Independent and Renna for Lindy lines. He works in the facilities department of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and said village efforts to revitalize its downtown can benefit from a fresh approach.

“Everybody’s saying the objective is to attract young families and millennials and keep those people here and to get them to come here,” he said. “I feel like if we’re seeking to attract these people, then they should be represented on the board.”

Renna, vice president of the Lindenhurst Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in the village don’t have a good working relationship with local government. “I want to make it easier for businesses to come here, and establish and make [the process] streamlined,” he said.

St. John, a registered Democrat running on the Independent and ReStore Lindy lines, is a full-time law student at St. John’s University. St. John said he also is concerned about empty storefronts. “I feel there hasn’t been any attention drawn to it” from village government, he said.

St. John is proposing a downtown revitalization initiative whereby landlords would receive a tax credit if they reduce their rent, and residents would receive a property tax break based on the frequency of doing their shopping locally.

The “Brennan Team” of incumbents are running on the Republican and Good Government lines. Masterson, Lavorata and Brennan stressed that their efforts to bring in new businesses also will bring in millennials. The trio cite their success in attracting Tritec Real Estate of East Setauket to propose building 260 multifamily rental units across from the Long Island Rail Road station. Word of that pending deal has already prompted phone calls from other businesses looking to move into the village, they said.

“It’s definitely going to be an asset and it’s going to attract young people, too,” said Masterson, who works part time at Tanner Park senior center and is seeking a second term as trustee.

Lavorata, who is deputy mayor and was first elected to the board in 2004, is senior project engineer at Underwriters Laboratories in Melville. He cited his work on improving the look of businesses on Montauk Highway.

“All of those frontages have been fixed up and now we’re bringing the same idea to the downtown,” he said.

Brennan, who is director of the Lidnenhurst Funeral Home was appointed trustee in 1999 and first elected mayor in 2004. He said his work to attract businesses to downtown is finally paying off and three new restaurants are due to take over empty storefronts soon. In addition, a much-needed supermarket, Key Food, is moving into an old CVS building downtown.

“Soon we’re going to be able to say that every single store of ours is being rented,” he said.

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