Islip Town Hall in an undated photo.

Islip Town Hall in an undated photo. Credit: Erin Geismar

The longtime chairman of the struggling Islip Democratic Committee has resigned, citing the need for fresh leadership as the group works to make inroads in the Republican-dominated town.

Joe Hagelmann resigned his post as chairman Oct. 6, and the committee voted to appoint first vice president Gerry Pallotta as acting chairman, officials said. Pallotta, who is running unopposed, is poised to become chairman at a committee convention later this month.

“I’ve been doing this for 14 years; I felt it was time to let somebody else run it — a young person with new ideas,” said Hagelmann, 69, of Ronkonkoma. “I’m still a committeeman. I’m going to stay active in the party, but not in the day-to-day operations of running the committee.”

The changing of the guard comes after last year’s bruising election for Democrats, in which Supervisor Phil Nolan was ousted by Republican Tom Croci. The remainder of the five-member board are three Republicans and one Conservative.

Pallotta, 50, of West Islip, said his biggest priority is finding strong candidates to run for town board next year.

“With every organization, there’s work to do to make it better,” said Pallotta, the chief financial officer for a Canadian-based mining exploration company.

Frank A. Tantone, chairman of Islip’s Republican Committee, said he wished his new counterpart well. “I can sympathize with how hard it is to be the ‘out’ instead of the ‘in,’” Tantone said. “Competition is good. I’m not afraid of competition. It’s good for the voters; they get to choose.”

Above: Islip Town Hall