Supporters of change in the government of the Town of Oyster Bay gathered on Wednesday holding signs —“There is something rotten in Oyster Bay” and “Prevent corruption in Oyster Bay” — to show their backing for a slate of Democratic candidates who announced that they would run in November for supervisor and town council. Dr. Marc Herman will run for supervisor, and James Versocki, Robert Freier and Eva Pearson plan to run for council seats.
Nassau County Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs introduced Herman, 63, a lifelong Oyster Bay resident and Woodbury dentist. “Not only are we disheartened, but we are embarrassed by the corruption that is going on,” Herman said. “I turn on the news and Republicans are being taken out of office in handcuffs.” In addition, the candidate said, he doesn’t support the current administration’s alleged nepotism and pay-to-play practices.
The town and some of its leaders have had several problems over the past few years. The town’s debt is $900 million, and it just passed an unusually large property tax increase, 11.5 percent. Former Town Supervisor John Venditto was arrested and then resigned after his indictment on multiple counts of corruption. A sentence of prison for former Town Planning Commissioner Fredrick Ippolito for tax evasion followed. As well, the town has a junk bond credit rating and is currently under investigation for fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Democratic Party officials say they believe Herman is a good candidate who will return credibility to town government. He served five terms on the Syosset Board of Education as a trustee, vice president and president, during which the district was rated among the top schools in the nation and maintained the highest bond ratings possible, with balanced budgets that came in under the state tax cap. Herman said that his time on the school board prepared him for the town supervisor’s job because the school district budget is similar in size to the town’s. Both jobs require knowledge of the same issues, he said — debt management, union contract negotiations and transportation networks.
Herman is also on the faculty of the Northwell/Hofstra School of Medicine and serves on the medical ethics committee. Additionally, he is a member and the treasurer of the Cerro Wire Coalition, which successfully opposed the building of a mall in Syosset. And he was the treasurer and president of the Gates-Ridge Civic Association. He has not run for government office before.
“I know I can clean up the financial mess and the corruption mess,” he said. “I’d like to get us back on the track to this great future that the town of Oyster Bay deserves.”
“The taxpayers of our town deserve a government they can trust and elected officials they can be proud of,” said Oyster Bay Democratic Chairman Dave Gugerty. Then he repeated what current Supervisor Joseph Saladino often says: “It is a new day in Oyster Bay.”
Robert “Bob” Freier
Freier has been active in the East Williston School District, as a trustee and vice president of the Board of Education. He oversaw several multi-million-dollar construction and energy projects that saved the district money, which in turn allowed for new programs to be created for students.
He is a partner in the Genero Search Group, which helps venture-backed technology startups form their initial teams, and District Wise Search Consultants, which searches for new superintendents for public schools.
In 2010, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society nominated Freier for its Man of The Year award.
“None of us are politicians,” Freier said. “We’re just giving of ourselves because we want to fix this, and we can’t take it anymore.”
Freier ran unsuccessfully for town board in 2015.
Versocki, of Sea Cliff, began his career as an assistant attorney general in the state Office of the Attorney General’s Labor Bureau, where his practice focused on enforcing a wide range of labor and employment laws.
He worked closely with a wide variety of unions, law enforcement agencies and community groups and handled white-collar criminal defense and litigation in state and federal courts.
He currently works at Archer, Byington, Glennon & Levine LLP and is a member of the U.S. and New York National Employment Lawyers Association and the Nassau and Suffolk bar associations. The Long Island Business News named him “Who’s Who in Labor Law.”
“As a former prosecutor, I commit to try to find and uncover what they’ve done behind us,” Versocki said. “We need people who care and have the background to root out and understand what’s been done.”
Pearson is a decorated military veteran who served five years active duty in the Air Force during the first gulf war.
Her professional experience includes psychological research at the NYU Child Study Center, behavioral therapy at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, health care management at St. Luke’s hospital and educational administration at Long Island University.
She currently creates non-profit internships for students and social justice events for the community. She is also an avid volunteer at the Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, Child Abuse Prevention Services and the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. She is studying for a doctoral degree at SUNY Buffalo.
“The residents of Oyster Bay finally have the opportunity to elect honest, ethical and intelligent leadership,” Pearson said. “Myself and the other candidates are focused on restoring ethics and honesty to our town.”
Pearson ran unsuccessfully for the Nassau County Legislature in 2011.