Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a Republican, is running for...

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a Republican, is running for reelection. Credit: James Escher

In Oyster Bay, where the Republican Party and the municipal government often operate as one entity, determining who really calls the tune has been difficult for decades. Town employees often do double or triple duty as GOP officials and campaign volunteers; where one role begins and another ends is anyone’s guess. That never seems to change, no matter how many sour notes are sounded.

Two years ago, writing about a supervisor race incumbent Joseph A. Saladino went on to win easily, we criticized Saladino for hiking Deputy Supervisor Gregory Carman Jr.’s pay from $134,750 to $167,500 and disclosing neither that nor raises for 86 other employees, until Newsday wrestled the information away via New York State Open Meetings law.

Now Carman, also executive leader of the Farmingdale Republican Committee, has been soliciting political contributions from town employees, with the size of each request determined by the workers’ town salaries. It's Tammany by the Bay, and further proof that you don't get a job without tithing something back to the organization.

The district attorney’s office says it does not have enough to prosecute Carman, largely thanks to shoddily written election law, but that he "may have violated" town ethics code. He clearly did, and should be fired, but Saladino refuses to take any action against Carman until the town ethics board rules.

That’s Oyster Bay under Saladino, and long before him. The town runs, bills get paid, taxes are rarely increased, roads and parks are good (enough), redevelopment in Hicksville and other downtowns lags, elections are almost always uncompetitive, and most voters don’t seem to mind.

Democrat Amanda R. Field, 45, is calling, correctly, for Carman’s firing. A Plainview Water District commissioner, she also is right to hit Saladino on his often highhanded manner toward residents in town meetings. Field has a good feel for the issues, but lacks the experience and knowledge she’d need to run a large, complex town.

Saladino, 60, of Massapequa, is gregarious, hardworking and responsive to resident needs, as long as the residents don’t criticize him. He has been passionate about working on the Grumman plume. Now, he must bring change next term to Hicksville. For too long, he has blamed others for the lack of action, while his own thinking about what's possible there and elsewhere has been limited. Then, Saladino must put the same effort into revitalizing downtown Oyster Bay.

He also needs to draw a hard and clear line between his party and his administration, if he wants Oyster Bay to start moving to the right beat.

Newsday endorses Saladino.

ENDORSEMENTS ARE DETERMINED solely by the Newsday editorial board, a team of opinion journalists focused on issues of public policy and governance. Newsday’s news division has no role in this process.