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The Joys of Governing In Small Town America

Altadonna Puts His Stamp on Massapequa Park

James Altadonna Jr. is beginning his second decade as mayor of what he calls the quintessential “small town America,” the Village of Massapequa Park.

A native of Deer Park where he had served as a volunteer fireman, Altadonna entered and won a mayoral race in a most unusual fashion. After marrying a Massapequa girl and moving to the village, Altadonna, the proprietor of a printing company, Sheepshead Printing Company, became dissatisfied with how he saw the way the village was being administered. And so, he entered the mayoral race of 2000. But Altadonna did not run, as is the custom, on a ticket with other board of trustee candidates. Instead, he ran on his own, a ticket of one man. And he ended up unseating an incumbent and becoming mayor, a post he has held since then, getting re-elected to another term last March with no opposition.

Altadonna lived in Massapequa for eight years before running for public office. A year and a half ago, he sold his printing company and now he has more time to devote to village administration.

Altadonna listed infrastructure and standard of living issues as his administration’s main concerns.

“Our children have the desire to live here,” he said, referring to Massapequa’s rising generation. “And so, we must be fiscally responsible so that our children can have the life we had. We want to make Massapequa better and affordable for the next generation.”

Altadonna is optimistic about the challenges the village faces.

“I am continually amazed at the resolve and greatness of the people of Massapequa Park,” he said, adding that another challenge has been rebuilding the village’s infrastructure. He pointed to infrastructure revitalization on Park Boulevard and Merrick Road, a beautification campaign, and the addition of triangles, all of which, according to the mayor, result in adding great value to the community.

If John Carpenter made Massapequa the Classic Films Capital of Long Island, the village has long been the Parade Capital of Long Island, with colorful parades not just on the Fourth of July, but also on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“This is nothing new, the village has always been like this,” Altadonna said, adding that Massapequa is “genuine small town America,” a place where it is not uncommon for a Fourth of July parade to attract up to 5,000 to 6,000 people.

“I consider myself the steward, the caretaker to move the village along for growth and opportunity,” Altadonna concluded as he looks forward to his second decade as mayor. “The big challenge is the financial aspect. We must keep the village fiscally healthy.”

The mayor added that local residents, in times good and trying, should try not to “vilify” the public employee. Public workers, he said, are involved in a “different type of employment,” where they must answer the call at all times and under all conditions.

“I tell people that if we made this village the most pristine village in all of Nassau County, it would cost a tremendous amount of money and no one could live here,” Altadonna said. The challenge, he added is finding a balance between what is viable and affordable. “That’s the main goal of every government,” he said.