AT SEA CLIFF FUNDRAISER, DEMOCRATIC TOWN BOARD CANDIDATE FRAMES RACE AS GOOD GOVERNANCE VS. GOP POLITICAL MACHINE
June 28, 2017 -- Running on a message to clean up town government, Oyster Bay Town Council candidate and Sea Cliff resident James Versocki spoke to supporters at a fundraiser sponsored by the recently formed Hempstead Harbor Democratic Club and held at the Metropolitan Bistro this past Tuesday evening. Joining Mr. Versocki was the presumed slate of Democratic candidates for the Town Board that includes Marc Herman for supervisor and Ava Pearson and Bob Freier for the other two council seats on the ballot.
The council election is an at-large contest with the top three vote getters each earning a four year term on the six member body. The Town Board is comprised of the Council and the Supervisor whose term is two years.
In his remarks, Mr. Versocki, a 44 year-old labor attorney who had previously served as a prosecutor for eight years in the New York State Attorney General's Labor Bureau, emphasized both the local and national implications of this coming November’s town board elections.
“Local elections are how we change things,” Mr. Versocki said. Taking the long view, he explained that Democrats should learn a lesson from the GOP and its strategy for becoming the dominant political force in American politics nationally and in the vast majority of states. (Republicans control the governorship and both chambers of the legislature in 32 states, while Democrats hold a similar degree of power in only six states; in 12 states, like New York, power is divided.)
“This is what the Republicans did 25 years ago,” he asserted. “They took over school boards, then towns, then counties, then statehouses. It starts here.”
As for his platform, Mr. Versocki focused his remarks on ending the reported corruption within the Republican controlled town government. Former Town Supervisor John Venditto who resigned from his post earlier this year has been indicted on federal corruption charges and was named in a separate series of state indictments in Nassau County court earlier this week as have been Public Works Commissioner Frank Antetomaso and the late Frederick Ippolito who served as Planning and Development Commissioner. Mr. Ippolito died in prison early this month while serving a sentence for federal tax evasion.
“We’re not about a machine,” Mr. Versocki said referring to the Nassau County GOP. “We’re about good governance.
“The taxes you pay are ridiculous because of the machine politics,” he said. “We’re going to open things up so that we can see what’s going on.”
In addition to the positions he outlined this past Tuesday evening, Mr. Versocki and his slate-mates have pledged to, among other things, address the “financial mess” they say the Town of Oyster Bay finds itself in with its bond rating at “junk” status, tax increases in non-election years well above the state tax cap (11 percent last year and 8 percent three years ago), and one-shot land sales having been made to balance the budget. The four Democrats have said, if elected, that they will hire outside independent auditors to examine the books of every TOB department and agency.
They have also said that they will work towards making government more user friendly and efficient by allowing residents to file permit applications on-line and allowing for on-line bidding on town contracts as well as a 311 service that would give residents the opportunity to more easily report problems.
As for the other announced Democratic candidates, Mr. Herman is a dentist and served six terms on the Syosset School Board -- some of that time as President; Mr. Freier, a businessman, ran for town board two years ago and also served on the East Williston Board of Education; and Ms. Pearson is a research program coordinator and adjunct professor at a local university and was a candidate for the Nassau County legislature six years ago -- a race she very narrowly lost.
A primary will be held this September if other Democrats submit petitions seeking the party’s nomination.
On the Republican side, Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who was appointed to his post after Mr. Venditto had resigned, will be seeking election in his own right as will Louis Imbroto and Thomas Hand, each of whom were also appointed this past spring to fill seats that became vacant due to resignations by incumbent council members. Additionally, Councilwoman Michelle Johnson is seeking re-election to her second term.
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