A Q&A with the candidates

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Valley Stream's village mayor, two at-large trustee seats and village justice are up for grabs in March 19's election.
Valley Stream's village mayor, two at-large trustee seats and village justice are up for grabs in March 19's election.
Christina Daly/Herald

Valley Stream’s village elections are set for March 19, and two slates of candidates are vying for village mayor, two at-large trustee seats and village justice.

On the Achieve Party line, mayoral candidate Anthony Bonelli will run with trustee candidates Cristobal Stewart and Jed Kaplowitz, along with justice candidate Dave Sparrow. They will face off against incumbent Mayor Ed Fare, Deputy Mayor Vincent Grasso, Trustee Dermond Thomas and Village Justice Virginia Clavin-Higgins, all running on the United Community Party line.

United Community candidates Fare, Grasso and Thomas are seeking third terms in their positions. Fare previously served as a village trustee from 2004 to 2011, when he was elected mayor. Grasso is the executive director of the Nassau County Bridge Authority, Thomas is a corporate attorney, and Fare teaches industrial arts in the Valley Stream Central High School District.

In the Achieve Party, Bonelli’s background is in information technology and engineering, and he formerly working for the NYPD’s pension fund. Stewart, who formerly served on School District 30’s Board of Education, is assistant dean at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and runs a private-practice law firm. Kaplowitz works in marketing.

The election has the potential to determine the direction Village Hall will take over the next four years, with key issues — such as the village’s fiscal health and services as well as the state of its infrastructure, the availability of parking and the development of high-density housing — taking center stage.

The Herald recently spoke with both mayoral candidates about their plans.

Herald: What plans do you have for the future of Valley Stream?

Ed Fare: Valley Stream is my home. I have lived here my entire life and have raised my children here. I am invested in Valley Stream’s future, and our future is bright.

Our administration has been addressing all essential safety, security and infrastructure concerns, so that we can focus on the big picture for what comes next. The courthouse on Rockaway Avenue was a strong investment in our business community, bringing hundreds of people to the downtown every month. Positioning all uniformed personnel and court offices on our main street is an investment in our mom-and-pop stores, and provides a visible law-enforcement presence.

The building itself has met the criteria to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was a well thought-out decision to reclaim it for a variety of municipal uses. Now, we have room at Village Hall to add a cultural arts center that will complement the programs offered at the Henry Waldinger Memorial Library. Our pool continues to shine bright in the jewel that is our vast parks system. The entire facility has been upgraded, except for the dive pool. That will have to be addressed at some point in the near future, as well.

Herald: How do you plan to address the village’s fiscal issues?

Fare: The village has enjoyed an excellent credit rating with Standard and Poor’s, which provides highly respected research and analysis on stocks and bonds. The Moody’s report was disappointing, but they really didn’t consider services to taxpayers. Instead, they would like to see money in the bank.

I wanted to use taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars on services to the people who paid them, without burdening them with excessive tax increases. We have implemented several non-tax revenue streams to replace our reserve funds. As any homeowner will tell you, money in the bank is no good if your roof is leaking. We fixed the roof and other serious infrastructure needs that deteriorated over time. Now, we are lowering our own sanitation costs by modernizing an outdated facility. The new transfer station will be state-of-the-art, clean and environmentally friendly. It will replace an incinerator that was dormant for 35 years, at a facility that has been in use at Arlington yard since 1925.

We are also adding more commuter parking along Sunrise Highway that will not only assist those traveling on the Long Island Rail Road, but will also create new revenue.

Herald: Why do you think people should vote for you?

Fare: I have always put Valley Streamers first. I listen to everyone, and attend events for every community organization that exists. I do this because I genuinely enjoy being around our residents and hearing what they have to say.

I have also volunteered my time to many local organizations, and am proud of my community ties. I have been an active member of the Valley Stream Fire Department for four decades as a  treasurer, lieutenant, captain and, now, as honorary chief. I have volunteered for the Valley Stream Historical Society for more than three decades, and was instrumental in getting the Pagan-Fletcher Restoration up and running. As an active member of the Central High School Alumni Association, I donated historically correct lighting fixtures to the school to beautify its prestigious lobby.

Most importantly, I know, understand and love this village. I continue to learn to improve as mayor and I have so much more to offer my neighbors.

Herald: What plans do you have for the future of Valley Stream?

Anthony Bonelli: Thanks to our current administration run by Ed Fare, Vincent Grasso and Dermond Thomas, Valley Stream is in big trouble financially. The UCP has been in office for almost eight years, and have plowed through $11 million in reserve funds. They are millions of dollars over budget on their two projects for Valley Stream — the Court House, and the Waste Transfer Station — projects which have no return on our investment. Now Fare has announced that he wants to start a third major project to convert the old courthouse into a cultural center — another project that will cost millions.

I will not spend millions of dollars on pet projects at the cost of our Valley Stream taxpayers. As a matter of fact, I will sell the old courthouse in order to rebuild our rainy-day reserve funds. I will not cease repairs of our roads. My plan is to increase road repairs, but do it in a smart, conservative manner that will save us money and make our streets safer. I will not increase our taxes, but my plan will actually lower our taxes. I can do this by removing all the wasteful spending by our current administration. I will not create new jobs for my friends and family and grow the Valley Stream government by one hundred percent. My plan is to shrink our government back down to a level we can all surely afford. 

Herald: How do you plan to address the village’s fiscal issues?

Bonelli: The mess the current administration under Fare has put us in is beyond words. Valley Stream went from a solid rating just below AAA to junk bond. Nine consecutive downgrades over eight years. Now that we have hit bottom, Fare, Grasso and Thomas have awoken, and have introduced a few drastic measures. As mayor of Valley Stream, I promise I will reverse our downward trend. I have pledged to not take a salary until I have accomplished this goal. I will end the excessive wasteful spending in our government. I will sell the courthouse, recouping millions of dollars.  

Herald: Why do you think people should vote for you?  

Bonelli: I’ve lived in Valley Stream all my life. I have over 15 years of experience as a project manager. I have a master’s degree in business administration and a degree in engineering. I worked for New York City sanitation for over 10 years as an analyst. Fare is going to tell you how in 2017 Valley Stream was ranked the best place to live in New York state. There is truth to that statement, but is that his, Grasso and Thomas’ accomplishment? Is that the best they can do? 

In the last 10 months I’ve been going door to door, talking to the people of our village, and I have heard the issues that concern our residents. We need to make sure our schools are safe, we need to address our crumbling infrastructure, we need to make sure our homes maintain their value, and we need to address the parking situation at the Valley Stream train station. I have heard the residents, and I will address all of the issues. I will add more green space for our families, I will add parking by removing the hockey rink, I will make sure our roads get repaired, and I will repair our finances. It’s time for a change.