There were two contested elections for fire commissioner, out of the seven local districts holding elections on Dec. 12, in both contests the challenger won. Frank Parise, a former Inwood Fire District commissioner and fire department chief defeated Mark Rolon, who was running for his third five-year term. The final tally was 139 votes for Parise and 97 for Rolon.
Meadowmere Park district saw fewer voters turn out than Inwood, but again the challenger defeated the incumbent. Kevin Bennett had taken a year off from the department for personal reasons after retiring from his job. Then jumped back into the fray and challenged Edward Samuelson, who was running for his fifth five-year term. Bennett was deeply involved with the community’s restoration efforts after Hurricane Sandy. He won 40-32.
In the Atlantic Beach Fire District, incumbent Joe Montilli ran unopposed, winning 100 percent of the vote. This will be Montilli’s first full five-year term, he was appointed to the position two and a half years ago, and won when he ran to finish out the term six months later. Montilli has been a volunteer firefighter for 31 years, and has been a part of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst department since moving to the area in 2006.
Incumbent Pat Tudda ran unopposed in the Hewlett-Bay Park district. Tudda won as all 19 votes supported him. He will be starting his sixth term as commissioner. Tudda wants to continue to improve the safety of the residents of his district.
Judah Karkowsky ran unopposed for a five-year term in the Woodmere Fire District. Karkowsky was appointed to the position in 2015, and won last year’s election to complete the unexpired term. He still volunteers as an EMT, even though he’s stepped away from firefighting since joining the department in 1998. He’s proud of the district’s advances in technology and wants to continue improving without costing the taxpayers.
Two commissioners were elected in the Lawrence North fire district, and both ran unopposed. Gary Caparelli, a lifelong resident of Lawrence and department member since 1970 won his second term with 100 percent of the vote. He said he wants to continue to be a watchdog for local taxpayers. John Vilardi ran for Anthony DiNardi’s unexpired term, and also won with 100 percent of the vote. Vilardi said he is looking forward to being able to help the district behind the scenes.
All candidates in the Lawrence-Cedarhurst district ran unopposed. David Campbell and James McHugh were reelected as chief of the department and first assistant chief respectively. Eddie Koehler and John McHugh were also reelected as commissioners.