Future candidates for the Mineola Village Board will sit on the dais for longer after the current administration approved a change in terms from two to four-years after a special hearing at the Village hall on September 18.
Many residents who spoke at the hearing were vastly in favor of the measure, agreeing that the current two-year cycle is too intense on the residents who must put up with numerous campaign signs and signature-gathering drives every year.
“You can’t plan into the future if you’re only going to be around a year and a half working on village issues and thinking about an election,” Joe Grillo of Wellington Road said. “Four years, it’s the only way to go.”
Richard Maher of Walker Road, who also supported the change, said that the village has “had a change in board members for one reason or another, but there’s been continuity; there has to be a long-term plan.”
Emory Road resident Bill Urianek said that the new four-year terms would be beneficial because the village is “saving money and not seeing so many posters around the village because... I think it makes the village look sloppy.”
John Curry, a member of the New Line Party, said that the new longer terms would cause “less of a distraction” during the year instead of focusing on a campaign. “If you’re going to be distracted for six months running, it’s better that it’s every four years than every two.”
He also noted that many people whom the party had tried to ask to run for office did not want to because of the shorter terms.
“Every two years is just too much on the candidates, on the families. You bang on doors, annoy people at times; besides all the literature, the signs, the litter, the less of it the better.”
Each of the members of the village board have cited increasing costs of holding elections as a primary reason for changing the elected terms due to the use of new electronic ballot-scanning machines and the phase-out of the old lever-style machines. Currently the village expends about $10,000 per election, a sum that is expected to rise to $20,000 using electronic scanning because municipalities must print ballots to cover 110 percent of registered voters within the district. There are approximately 12,000 registered voters within the village of Mineola, meaning about 13,000 ballots must be printed at a cost of 55 cents per ballot.
However, not all residents are happy about the measure.
Russ Sutherland said the change “will cost me money” since he is an election worker. But, “I realize how long projects take so the mayor was absolutely correct in that continuity was the main factor and the cost also of elections.”
Chris Wales, who previously ran for the board and was defeated, felt that a two-year short campaign and time frame was ideal.
“I took it as a two-year incentive was the best way to go,” he said. “It was a small commitment of time to get in the door and then if I can prove myself as a good steward for the community and when I was up for reelection again and that gain a vote of confidence from the people to say ‘keep going, you’re on the right track’.”
Wales added that a four-year term was “too much time for people to get disinterested, people move out of the district... it just adds another layer of complexity.”
Horton Highway resident Elizabeth Henley spoke at length in front of the village board about the lack of residents turning out for the hearing, her perceived lack of notice about the hearing, and that power was being taken away from residents, calling the measure “self-serving” to those serving on the board, which she mistakenly also described as one-party despite trustee Paul Cusato being a member of the Hometown party.
“To insinuate in any way that we were trying to pull a fast one is insulting,” deputy mayor Paul Pereira said. “Short of going and knocking door-to-door, I don’t know what else we could have done. We wish the room was full; I would like to see the room full. Perhaps there is a reason why people aren’t here; perhaps the reason’s not because they didn’t know about it, but because, they’re ok, they’re happy, they’re content. That could also be it.”
Henley repeatedly called for the term extension to be put before the public for a vote at election time. The measure is considered a “permissive referendum,” with the ability to hold a public vote, but requires a petition to be filed with the signatures of 10 percent of the voting population of the village – about 2,000 residents.
“This is not representative of the village,” resident Sal Cataldo said repeatedly while gesturing to the sparsely populated audience rows.
“Everybody’s running unopposed, which seems a lot to me, but maybe that’ll change next election,” Strauss said. “Maybe it means we’re doing a good job.”
Following Henley, Ed Savarese of Rudolph Road, who was in support four-year terms, said that “if this woman is so opposed to what she calls ‘unilateral’ board, I would just advise her to run. I think they would welcome it because that’s what this whole thing is about.”
Henley stated at the meeting that it was not her intention to run for the village board.
“If I was to run, I’ve got to be honest, it probably takes a year or so before you get used to your shoes and then you have to go out and have to campaign instead of worrying about issues that are in this village, you’re campaigning,” Savarese continued. “I’d rather focus on important issues.”
How do you feel about the change to four-year terms for the village board? Let us know in the comments below.