Who will be the next Town of Oyster Bay supervisor?

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There are four candidates vying for Town of Oyster Bay supervisor. The current supervisor, Joseph Saladino, who was appointed in January, has focused on improving the town’s finances and, more generally, its reputation, which was damaged when former Supervisor John Venditto was charged with corruption in June and later resigned.

John Mangelli, an attorney, is running for the second time. He nearly defeated Venditto in 2015, losing by only 99 votes. Robert Ripp, a retired NYC police officer, is a frequent speaker at town board meetings. The third challenger is Marc Herman, an ophthalmologist who was president of the Syosset Board of Education for six years.

We asked the candidates a few questions to help voters make an informed choice on Election Day, Nov. 7.

Joseph Saladino, Incumbent

Age: 55

Party Affiliations: Republican, Independence, Conservative, Tax Revolt

Lives in: Massapequa

Family: Single

Herald Gazette: Do you believe it would benefit residents if the town board were bipartisan, which it is not now? Why or why not?

Joseph Saladino: Residents have an opportunity to elect individuals to the town board every two years. They are intelligent and cast their votes for individuals based on their ideas and platform. Although the town board is comprised of all Republicans, we do not always see eye to eye on each issue.

HG: What kind of tax reforms can you suggest that will ensure that town taxes are reduced?

JS: I have taken several actions to reduce costs at the town level. My administration has reduced utility costs through LED installations, cut consultant expenses through the use of in-house staff, and turned a loss on recycling into a profit for taxpayers. I eliminated take-home cars for commissioners, deputy commissioners and high-level employees. I also implemented many shared services and my 2018 proposed budget includes a tax cut — returning the money saved from shared services to taxpayers.

HG: There have been accusations of cronyism in the town. Do you agree?

JS: I have instituted rules to ensure that no employee supervises a relative or has any influence over their employment status, and instituted mandatory ethics training for all employees and elected officials. I terminated contracts with dishonest vendors and banned them for life. My administration filed a lawsuit to recoup residents’ tax dollars from the Singh concession agreements. New disclosure requirements are in place for contractors, vendors and high-level employees to prevent conflicts of interest and improprieties.

HG: How would you improve transparency of town operations and decisions?

JS: I’ve enhanced transparency. I held an open process for the public to view the competition between all of the vendors seeking to replace concession agreements for our parks and beach. Next, I enhanced live-streaming of town board meetings and work sessions so that the public may view these meetings from home. The town’s website now allows for residents to obtain bid notices and requests for proposals, view the union contract, and more.

Reclaim New York recognized my administration for its accomplishments in 2017. The town is the first government in the state to partner with them to proactively improve transparency and provide residents unprecedented access to government. The town will seek to build on these efforts by posting information on financial revenue and expenditures, audit results and ethics guidelines.

John Mangelli, Challenger

Age: 51

Party Affiliations: Democrat, running on Reform line

Lives in: Bayville

Family: Wife and three daughters

Herald Gazette: Do you believe it would benefit residents if the town board were bipartisan? Why or why not?

John Mangelli: Absolutely. One-party control ensures business as usual, with the best interests of the residents outweighed by party interests.

HG: What kind of tax reforms can you suggest that will ensure that town taxes are reduced?

JM: First, we must reorganize our debt. Second, we must retrain and reapply our workforce so they earn a profit for the town, not be a burden on the taxpayers.

HG: There have been accusations of cronyism in the town. Do you agree?

JM: I agree. It’s very simple. An incumbent resigns prior to the end of his term, an appointment by the party leader thereby ensuring the legacy. In return, the new official hires people that are good for the continuation of the party control.

HG: How would you improve transparency of town operations and decisions?

JM: I would have an interactive website wherein residents can be educated on the issues and be afforded an opportunity to vote on each issue. No sale of public property nor privatization of a public utility without a full referendum.

Marc Herman, Challenger

Age: 63

Party Affiliations: Democrat, Women’s Equality, Working Families

Lives in: Woodbury

Family: Wife, three sons, three granddaughters

Herald Gazette: Do you believe it would benefit residents if the town board were bipartisan? Why or why not?

Marc Herman: Absolutely! The four biggest hires Saladino made were to bring on Ed Mangano’s lawyer, Mangano’s top aide, his campaign treasurer and neighbor. All of these people make six-figure salaries, and were pushed through with no residential input or objections from the Ethics Board. Saladino is surrounding himself with Mangano’s friends at our expense.

HG: What kind of tax reforms can you suggest that will ensure that town taxes are reduced?

MH: The largest tax we pay is the corruption tax. We can save $500,000 by eliminating my opponent’s patronage hires, including Mangano’s lawyer and top aide. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine how much we can save when we examine all of the corrupt contracts that have landed our officials in jail.

HG: There have been accusations of cronyism in the town. Do you agree?

MH: Yes! The four biggest hires Saladino made this year were to bring on Mangano’s lawyer, his top aide, his campaign treasurer and his neighbor.

HG: How would you improve transparency of town operations and decisions?

MH: I have spent the past six months knocking on doors in order to talk to [people] directly. This is how I will govern — by listening to [them]. When I was running the Syosset school board, we made it our mission to have open and transparent meetings. I want to bring efficiency and make the town work for you!

Robert Ripp, Challenger

Age: 56

Party Affiliations: Registered Independent, End Corruption

Lives in: Massapequa

Family: Wife, six children

Herald Gazette: Do you believe it would benefit town residents if the town board were bipartisan? Why or why not?

Robert Ripp: I believe residents would benefit from a board of independent free thinkers who work to understand every issue/resolution brought before them before voting. Free elections prohibit the formation of any bipartisan board by design. We need to break from the rubber-stamp board participation that has prevailed in our town government.

HG: What kind of tax reforms can you suggest that will ensure that town taxes are reduced?

RR: To reduce taxes, we must eliminate unnecessary spending and consolidate debt. I will eliminate the multiple, redundant, patronage positions that exist in the town, reduce the staff of the office of the town attorney and end all unnecessary, questionable make-work contracts and projects.

HG: There have been accusations of cronyism in the town. Do you agree?

RR: Yes. Joe Saladino has himself made multiple appointments in which he not only created high-paying positions for his own cronies but personally set his cronies’ salaries in violation of New York state town law. The town board is charged with setting the salary of the deputy supervisor and town attorney. There are no such resolutions that have been approved by the board.

HG: How would you improve transparency of town operations and decisions?

RR: All public information should be available 24/7 on the town’s web page for residents’ review. Any public information which is requested via [the Freedom of Information Law] should be immediately provided. We also need an unbiased ethics board.