Voting for district commissioners on Tuesday

Contested elections in Inwood and Meadowmere Park fire districts


Elections for fire commissioners will be held in seven special districts in the Five Towns surrounding communities on Dec. 12. Most terms are five years. Voting is held at each district’s headquarters between 6 and 9 p.m. on that Tuesday.

Inwood Fire District

Incumbent Mark Rolon is running for his third term as commissioner against ex-commissioner and ex-chief, Frank Parise. Rolon has been part of the department for the last 37 years and said he’s running because, “I’m not finished with the work I started.” He also said that his biggest priority is getting a generator using federal grants that would save the taxpayers money.

Parise has been a member of the department for 26 years. He served as commissioner of the Inwood Fire District from 1991 to 2001, chief of Inwood fire department from 2003 to 2007 and interim chief of the department last year. He said that he believes he’s the right man to keep the district and the department on a good path, “I think I’m the guy to find a balance between keeping the members happy and keeping the taxpayers happy.”

Voting will take place at the Inwood firehouse at 188 Doughty Blvd. in Inwood.

Atlantic Beach Fire District

Joe Montilli is running unopposed for the role of commissioner of the Atlantic Beach Fire District. This would be his first full term, as he served for six months as an appointee, before winning an election to finish the two years left on his predecessor’s term. He’s also serving as the chairman of the Board of Fire Commissioners for the Atlantic Beach district.

Montilli has been a volunteer firefighter for 31 years and part of the Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department since he moved to the area in 2006. He said he is running so he can continue serving the Atlantic Beach community and said he is always listening if any residents have suggestions. “I want to maintain the best level of care for the residents of Atlantic Beach for fire and rescue services,” he said. “While utilizing our financial budget to ensure that any and all money creates the highest level of care.”

Voting will take place at Atlantic Beach Fire Rescue at 1 Rescue Road in Atlantic Beach.

Meadowmere Park Fire District

Kevin Bennett will challenge incumbent Edward Samuelson for the commissioner. Samuelson has been a part of the Meadowmere Fire Department for 47 years, and has served as commissioner for the last 20 years. Prior to his four terms, Samuelson also served as department chief. According to him, his priority will be getting the new generator prepared for the next storm and, “Help out in the community, but also look out for the taxpayers,” he said.

Bennett, a 13-year veteran of the department, believes that his business experience helps make him a good candidate. A former commissioner himself, Bennett worked with insurance companies following Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Meadowmere Park. He took last year off to get some personal things in order as he began his retirement, “Now that’s behind me and I want to get back to helping the community,” he said.

Voting will take place at the Meadowmere Park firehouse at 14 Meyer Ave. in Meadowmere Park.

Hewlett Bay Park Fire District

Incumbent Pat Tudda is running unopposed for his sixth term as commissioner of the Hewlett Bay Park. Tudda has been involved with the fire department since the 1960s and has been commissioner of the district for the past 25 years. Tudda feels he’s been successful in making the district safer and doesn’t want to stop now, “During the past several years, the Hewlett Bay Fire District has made many strides to improve the quality of fire protection it provides its residents. I wish to continue to be a part if this process,” he said.

Voting will take place at the Hewlett firehouse at 25 Franklin Ave. in Hewlett.

Woodmere Fire District

Judah Karkowsky, the incumbent, is running unopposed. Karkowsky was appointed as commissioner in 2015 and was elected to finish the term last year. He joined the department in 1998 as a firefighter and emergency medical technician, since then he’s stepped away from fire fighting but still volunteers as an EMT.

Karkowsky said that he is proud of the advances in safety and technology the district has made and wants to keep them on that path, replacing any outdated equipment without increasing taxes on residents. “The community has changed in the last 20 years,” he said. “Buildings are constructed so there are fewer fires, but the fires that happen are more dangerous. They burn hotter and longer.”

Voting will take place at the Woodmere firehouse at 20 Irving Place in Woodmere.

Lawrence North Fire District

In the Lawrence North District, an area outside the village, Gary Caparelli is running as the unopposed incumbent for his second term. A life-long Lawrence resident, Caparelli became a fireman in 1970. He resigned as a fireman 11 years later, but has remained involved as what is known as an exempt firefighter. He took the role not just because it was open and available, but also as a taxpayer with interest in the community. “I’m a homeowner and taxpayer,” he said. “Actually I own three house so I’m a triple taxpayer. I want to look out and make sure that the money is spent wisely.”

John Vilardi is also running unopposed for Anthony DiNardi’s unexpired term as commissioner. Vilardi had previously expressed interest in similar positions and wants to step in. He would serve from Jan. 1, 2018 to Dec. 31, 2018 before having to run again for a full five-year term, which he said he currently intends on doing.

Vilardi is still an active firefighter after 48 years in the department. “There are a lot of other aspects, besides running out on calls,” he said. “I want to help make a contribution behind the scenes.”

Voting will take place at the Five Towns Community Center at 270 Lawrence Ave. in Lawrence.

Atlantic Beach Water Reclamation District

Anthony Licaesi is running unopposed for the role of commissioner. The Herald was not able to reach Licaesi before the article went to press.

Voting will take place at Atlantic Beach Fire Rescue at 1 Rescue Road in Atlantic Beach.