In the days before she took her seat on the Smithtown Town Board yesterday, former Suffolk County Legis. Lynne C. Nowick vowed to be her own woman on the male-dominated panel -- signaling a potential shift.
Nowick -- a Republican who replaced former Town Councilman Kevin Malloy, who ran on the Conservative line -- said she has met with each councilman individually to catch up on issues, discussed the budget with Supervisor Patrick Vecchio and is "very excited" to start her new role.
She campaigned with Vecchio and Councilman Thomas McCarthy because they agreed on particular issues, but Nowick cautioned: "Make no mistake about it, it is not to be considered an alliance . . . I am going to research each matter."
Councilman Edward Wehrheim said he doubted the possibility that the dynamic on the board could shift, with Vecchio, Nowick and McCarthy securing a three-vote majority.
Wehrheim said Malloy was "very astute on what was going on around town . . . and was extremely cooperative."
Some criticized Malloy as voting in lock-step with Wehrheim and Councilman Robert Creighton -- an assessment Malloy said was flawed because most votes were 5-0 and not 3-2.
On his last day in office on Tuesday, Malloy described his exit as "bittersweet," attributing much of the defeat to refusing to state his opinion on the controversial Uplands at St. Johnland -- a 199-unit senior development project that would be built on a wooded, 50-acre parcel in Kings Park -- before final results from an environmental impact study.
"It hurt me drastically. I knew that," said Malloy, adding that revealing his position would have amounted to "pandering to the public."
Sean Lehmann, president of the Kings Park Civic Association that advocated against the Uplands project, said he appreciated Malloy's service to the community.
"He was always very willing to talk with residents about their concerns," he said. "I think the election results showed that everyone is in favor of economic development, but we still need to protect our residential areas."
Malloy also supported Creighton's run for town supervisor against Vecchio, who declined to comment on Malloy's tenure in Town Hall.
Creighton said "it was a pleasure working with him," and described Malloy as "extremely straightforward."
"Kevin is certainly a very quiet man . . . But he sticks by his position," said Creighton. "He studies his position . . . and is willing to listen to other people's opinions."
Still, Creighton acknowledged that the three councilmen "thought alike and we acted for the most part in the same direction."
Nowick, said Creighton, "is liable to have her own views, which may be different from ours . . . I'm hopeful that she's willing to keep an open mind about things."
Malloy spent Tuesday morning tending to constituent concerns. Sitting in a mostly bare, white-walled office, he said he started at 8 a.m. to meet a resident wondering if the town enforced parking regulations at Long Island Rail Road stations.
"I'm being paid today," said Malloy, in an interview. "The public is my boss. Not party bosses. Not other elected officials. The people paying the taxes online today -- that's who I work for."
It was those people who voted Malloy out of office after his first term. Malloy received 11.89 percent of the vote -- the lowest percentage among the five candidates.
Among his accomplishments, Malloy cited his assistance in establishing the Kings Park St. Patrick Day Parade, Kings Park farmer's market municipal parking lot location, and working to allocate funds for senior buses.
Malloy said he will continue to work at his law practice and plans to seek public office again.
"I'll wait for an opening," he said. "I love public service."