Close to 100 members of Mineola’s New Line Party gathered Monday night at Churrasqueira Bairrada restaurant for a fundraising event for the upcoming 2013 village election on March 19.
There are two trustee positions up for election, which are currently occupied by George Durham – a New Line Party member – and Lawrence Werther – who was dropped from the party ticket and decided to form his own party – as well as the mayor’s chair, currently occupied by New Line incumbent Scott Strauss. Werther had decided that he would not seek the mayorship in the March election.
“Anybody would be crazy to run against him,” deputy mayor Paul Pereira said, referring to Strauss.
Running against Werther for trustee would be the newest member of the New Line party, Dennis Walsh.
“We need you to support the entire ticket,” Pereira told party members, “because that is the way that we’re going to be able to continue to do the things that we have been doing for these last number of years. All the things that we do we could not do without your support.”
Pereira said that the party is close to obtaining 1,000 signatures for its party line and Walsh as candidate for a seat on the village board.
“That’s unheard of and that’s thanks to a whole lot of you here,” he said. “Dennis is as astute and as well-read as well-versed in the issues as anybody that I know. He’ll go to meetings whether it’s at the town or the county or at the Federal level. He comes to every meeting. He’s a perfect fit to come right in and really help us take this vision forward.”
Durham extolled the work current party members had done on the board in addressing flooding issues in the village “from the area of the train station where people lost cars, Saville Road we put in new curbs... Bruce Terrace project is underway, people have been living with that flooding,” he said. “We came into the village, Scott (Strauss) and myself and we said ‘you know what, people shouldn’t have to worry that their business is going to be flooded or their home’s going to be flooded every time there’s a regular rain storm’ and those were priorities of us.”
As much of a rally or campaign stop as the fundraiser was, it was equally as much about how the party has moved on from Werther as he from the party.
“To take and make this a successful election, Scott needs the board that he selected,” Durham said. “It’s a change from what it was, but what we need to take and do is come out in force and take and prove to everybody that we fully support mayor Strauss and everything that he’s doing and he asked for this ticket, he asked for this line and we need to take and come out and support him.”
Pereira recalled when he first ran for the board in 2008 where the trustees were divided by parties 3-2.
“There was a certain element of opposition, nothing could get done because people were just being oppositional for the matter of being oppositional and I think we took care of that and I think we’re in a similar situation here where we need to move forward,” he said. “We’ve laid down the plan, we had the plan long before us and we’re carrying out that plan and that plan is working. So we don’t need to have people to oppose just for the sake of opposing, we need people to bring constructive ideas, we need people to bring suggestions, we need people to help with the load. We don’t need people certainly to weigh us down.”
If Werther were to win reelection, he would join current trustee Paul Cusato, a member of the Hometown Party, in being the only non-New Line party members on the village board. Until the split between Werther and the New Line Party, Cusato was the only non-New Line party member on the village board.
“Scott has the right to have who he wants to run with him and Scott needs to go down in history as being a good mayor,” Walsh said. “You’re not supposed to remember the trustees, they should be an afterthought; to support the mayor. We have our visionaries but we need a strong person to make the visions happen and Scott Strauss is the strong person... that’s why I’m here; I’m going to be in the room one way or another, I hope I’m in the room with a vote.”
“We’re here as a team,” Strauss said. “Yeah, the four of us are part of a team and I’ll include Paul Cusato in that team, he’s been a friend of mine since I was 15 years old, he’s a friend. You don’t have to vote the same way I vote, what you need to do is vote with your heart and that’s what I ask anyone that’s on the board is vote with your heart because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s about one particular person or individual; we’re a team concept here.”
The mayor added that “what matters most to me is how the village sits when I’m done with it; when we’re done with it. I want people to say we’re much better off now than we were before. That’s all I want for this village.”