Munsey Park doesn't often have contested elections.
But Harry Nicolaides, who has served as mayor for 17 years, is facing a challenge next Tuesday from political newcomer Frank DeMento. And incumbent trustees Albert T. Jaronczyk and Sheila Brennan face challenges from Patrick Hance and Sean Haggerty in a race that pits claims of experience against calls for change.
In addition to serving as mayor, Nicolaides, 60, has served on the building advisory committee and as a trustee. Nicolaides, an architect, received two degrees in architecture from the City University of New York, and has lived in the village for 28 years.
"It's the continuity of the things I have been doing for the village on behalf of our residents," Nicolaides said of his reason for running again. "We have a lot of things in play, from our post-Sandy recovery to ambitious road programs, revisiting some of our codes, and mentoring some of our trustees and appointees."
DeMento, 44, is an attorney who has lived in Munsey Park since 2005. He has a bachelor's degree from Washington and Lee University, and a law degree from St. John's University.
DeMento said he was driven to run after finding the village's bureaucracy difficult to navigate while restoring his home.
"The village has become just a place that's very adversarial for the residents," DeMento said, "rather than trying to help the residents beautify their own homes and properties and raise the values."
He said that as mayor he would work to rewrite village code "to make it more user-friendly." He criticized the village's tree regulations before Sandy, which he said contributed to the storm's destruction.
Chiefly, however, DeMento said the mayor has been in office too long, and said he supported the idea of term limits.
Jaronczyk, 61, is chief financial officer of CardWorks, Inc. in Woodbury. He has a bachelor's degree from St. Francis College and an MBA in finance from Adelphi University. Jaronczyk has lived in Munsey Park since 1980, and has been a village trustee for 14 years.
He said his goal is to maintain the look and feel of the village and says Munsey Park is a model of how a village should be run. He said he wants to search for more grant money for projects, and said his financial background has helped in running the village and putting together annual budgets.
"We just hope people come out and vote, and I feel fairly strongly if they do come out to vote, they will vote for the maintenance of the village board," Jaronczyk said.
Haggerty, 43, is a salesman and manager in investment banking who has lived in the village for 12 years. He holds a bachelor's degree from Villanova University.
"I decided to run because I just feel that we need a change in leadership in village hall," Haggerty said. As trustee, he said he would create an updated policies-and-procedures manual for the village, and said Munsey Park also needs to create long-term and capital-improvement plans.
Haggerty also said he would try to get more residents involved in village government. "If we can get more people involved, it makes for a healthier village," he said.
He said he decided to join DeMento and Haggerty in seeking office after sensing "a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the way things were run" among village residents. "We thought this was the time for a bit of a change."
He said the current administration has become out of touch with village residents, and information is not readily accessible or transparent. "Currently there's a view that nothing should be done, no matter what you try to do, it's going to downgrade the look of the village," he said. "I don't believe that's true."
Brennan, 77, is a retired schoolteacher and has lived in Munsey Park for 35 years. She has been a trustee for eight years. She received a bachelor's degree from Queens College and a master's in education from SUNY Cortland.
In a statement, Brennan said she wanted to continue her ongoing work as trustee. "There is still much work to do cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy," she wrote. "We need to take down the trees that still pose a risk to houses in the community while replacing those that are removed so we can maintain the beauty and the landscape that embodies our village."
She said the tree laws of the village need to be examined, and she plans to seek to "improve, maintain and upkeep the roads," as well as keep the budget below the state-mandated tax cap.