Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 28 March 2013 09:37
Though incumbents ran unopposed for the New Hyde Park Village Board last week, anticipation mounted since Mayor Daniel Petruccio announced he would not seek a fourth term as village leader. He held his post for 12 years.
Deputy Mayor Robert Lofaro will take over as village mayor after garnering 134 votes on March 19. Incumbent trustees Donald Barbieri and Lawrence J. Montreuil received 131 and 139 votes respectively. Village Justice Chris Devane received 144 tallies.
The critical issue is who will fill part of the remainder of Lofaro’s trustee term.
Petruccio held his last meeting on March 26. He took office in 2001. Petruccio would have been the longest-tenured New Hyde Park mayor had he made a run at the post last week.
Lofaro has been on the board 14 years. He was elected trustee in 1999.
Petruccio, director of guidance at Chaminade High School, called Lofaro succeeding him “appropriate.”
“[Bob] has been my deputy mayor for the entire time that I have served as mayor,” Petruccio said. “Bob has a tremendous love for this community combined with a set of interpersonal and financial skill sets that will make him a tremendous success as mayor.”
If there’s one thing Petruccio could impart on Lofaro, it’s that New Hyde Park is made up of people, not one person.
“Never consider the village to be “your village,” he said. “The village belongs to the citizens and your job is to take care of it on their behalf. The members of the board represent the people and therefore their actions should reflect as best as possible the will of the people.”
Prior to being elected to trustee, Lofaro, also 53, chaired the Citizen’s Budget Advisory Board that provided financial recommendations to village board members. Many of those recommendations were implemented after he was elected trustee.
In 2001, the 27-year village resident planned to run for mayor, but his employer at the time advised against it. Petruccio, who planned on running for trustee at the time, then sought the mayor’s seat.
“He stepped up and history shows that it was a great thing,” Lofaro said of Petruccio’s tenure. “Dan, for 12 years, did an outstanding job as mayor. [Now], he felt it was his time to refocus on different priorities. Myself, having two more years on the board as trustee, I felt that I would be in the best position to continue the operations and day-to-day governings of the village.
“There we’re no surprises [Tuesday night], there were no write-ins, no controversies or issues,” Lofaro continued. “Obviously we’re always happy about that for our residents.”
With budget season approaching, Lofaro and the board are tasked with crafting a budget with 2 percent tax cap limitations, but the village board recently passed a resolution allowing itself to exceed the cap, but do not plan on piercing it.
“Sadly, I read recently that New York State, who imposed the 2 percent tax cap on municipalities and the like, exceeded 2 percent in their expenditures in their soon-to-be-approved budget,” Lofaro stated. “Now, they’re not playing by the same rules that we are, but the fact is that all of us on the board are taxpayers. We’re supportive, whether it’s an imposed cap or not, we have always been conscious of keeping the rate of increase to the lowest level possible.”
The question now is who will be appointed to the board, filling part of the remainder of Lofaro’s trustee term. When Lofaro becomes mayor, he can appoint someone to the seat to fill the unexpired term.
The person selected to fill the seat would then potentially have to run again in March 2014 for another one-year term to fill the last year of Lofaro’s trustee term, then again in March 2015 for a four-year term.
“We’re trying to get clarification from the state to see if we need to have an election next March which is not typical. We run every four years,” he said.