New East Rockaway village trustee is sworn in

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Tim O’Hagan was sworn in as an East Rockaway village trustee by Mayor Bruno Romano, joined by O’Hagan’s wife, Kristen, and Trustees Richard Bilello and Gordon Fox.
Tim O’Hagan was sworn in as an East Rockaway village trustee by Mayor Bruno Romano, joined by O’Hagan’s wife, Kristen, and Trustees Richard Bilello and Gordon Fox.
Melissa Koenig/Herald

Shortly after East Rockaway Village Trustee Theresa Gaffney resigned on March 31, Mayor Bruno Romano approached lifelong resident Tim O’Hagan to ask if he was interested in filling the vacant seat. O’Hagan immediately accepted. He was sworn in on June 10.

“It’s always been a goal of mine,” O’Hagan explained. “I just felt it was very, very important to give back to the community which has given so much to me.”

O’Hagan was surrounded by his family as he was sworn in. He must run to retain the seat in a special election next March, and if he wins, he can run for re-election for a full term in March 2021.

“Tim O’Hagan will bring tradition, strong values, out-of-the-box thinking and hard work to our village board,” Romano said, citing O’Hagan’s devotion to the village. “I look forward to working with Tim for the best interests of the village.”

Gaffney resigned after six years on the board. “I needed more time to focus on my family,” she said. “I took a full-time position that was more conducive to my family schedule.”

Gaffney was appointed to the East Rockaway Library board in 2011, and eventually became board president. In 2013 she was elected village trustee. She has taken an active role in the community, serving as president of the East Rockaway Village Foundation and being involved in the Ladies Auxiliary of American Legion Post 958.

She is also a 9/11 survivor, having escaped the World Trade Center’s South Tower during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She was honored as a Woman of Distinction last October by State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller. Despite stepping down, Gaffney said she would “always be around,” and would remain active in the community.

O’Hagan, 45, grew up on Woods Avenue, and was heavily involved in the village’s sports programs. As a child, he spent many weekends playing in the basement of Village Hall with other athletes as part of the village’s Basement Recreational Program.

He continued to be involved in the Recreation Department as he got older, and was named its co-director in 2007. In that position, he worked with then East Rockaway High School Athletic Director Dom Vulpis to implement the Mayor’s Conference on Youth, in which district students met with village officials to discuss programs they would like to see in the village.

“The quest was to find out what kids wanted that did not exist for them, rather than [have] adults think for the kids,” said Richard Meagher, who was deputy mayor at the time.

O’Hagan also served on the village’s zoning board until he accepted the trustee position, and coached high school and college-level sports teams for more than 20 years. For his efforts, he was inducted into the Molloy College Hall of Fame, was named Coach of the Year, and All-Metro Coach of the Year and won two East Coast Conference championships.

In 2014, he opened a restaurant — EGP Gastropub on Long Beach Road in Oceanside — and a second location opened in Island Park earlier this month.

Community involvement is a family affair with the O’Hagans: Tim’s wife, Kristen, was elected to a trustee position on the East Rockaway Board of Education last month. As a village trustee, Tim said, he would like to work with his colleagues to attract more businesses to East Rockaway while protecting taxpayers.

“It’s been a tremendous place for me to live,” he said of growing up in East Rockaway, “and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of the trustees.

Mike Smollins contributed to this story.