3 vie for 2 East Williston seats; 2 unopposed in Williston Park

Noah Manskar

East Williston’s movement toward a final water-service agreement with Williston Park hasn’t changed two Village Board candidates’ positions, but one who was on the fence now favors the agreement over an independent water system.

Former East Williston school board president Ellen Ritz of the Common Sense party said she doesn’t think the village needs its own well with a beneficial agreement on the table after a public March 3 negotiation between the two village boards, which she attended.

“The contract that they agreed to, even though it’s not signed yet, was a great outcome,” said Ritz, running under the Common Sense Party.

Former East Williston Mayor Tony Casella continues to make finalizing the agreement the foundation of his campaign, saying in an interview he thinks continuing to pursue the system is “a waste of time and a waste of money.”

Incumbent Trustee Christopher Siciliano declined to take a public stance on the two options because negotiations with Williston Park are ongoing, but in recent weeks he has occupied a middle ground between what the Village Board has called the “parallel paths” to resolving East Williston’s water supply issues.

The three candidates are seeking two seats following Trustee Robert Vella’s decision to not run for re-election.

Current village trustees said last week they plan to put out a bond referendum on the village’s $7.5 million proposal to install a water supply system at Devlin Field to let residents decide which path to pursue.

Some trustees have said they favor the agreement, but think a bond vote is the most democratic approach because some residents passionately favor an independent system.

At a public meeting in January, Ritz said a water system would give East Williston more control. But in announcing her candidacy, she said she had no “pre-conceived answer” to the village’s water issues. 

Casella has consistently advocated for an agreement with Williston Park in recent months. 

A campaign postcard he mailed to voters notes he negotiated two water agreements with Williston Park in his previous time on the Village Board.

“I’m going to keep pushing until the two villages sign on the dotted line and we’ve got a 25-year agreement,” said Casella, who’s running under the Better East Williston Party and served as mayor from 1991 to 1995 and as a trustee from 1977 to 1986 and 1990 to 1991.

Siciliano, pursuing a second four-year term under the Neighborhood Party, said in an interview last month he aimed to “get the best deal on the table” for the village. 

In January he encouraged residents to keep an open mind for both options.

“It’s all been along parallel paths, and I think it’s time that we bring it up,” Siciliano said at last week’s negotiation. “I think it’s a great agreement, and I like the agreement, but I think it is time to bring it up to a referendum.”

The Village Board would have to vote to authorize a bond referendum. Casella said he would vote against putting the referendum out and continue to push for the agreement as a trustee.

Ritz said she would probably vote against putting out a referendum given the information she has about the agreement. But “if something comes up in between, that’s a whole other story,” she said.

Because of the ongoing negotiations with Williston Park, Siciliano declined to say how he would vote on the referendum authorization.

All three candidates said they have gotten positive feedback from voters since starting their campaigns.

Casella has sent campaign mailers, and Ritz and Siciliano said they plan to do the same before Tuesday’s vote.

East Williston trustees are paid $200 per month.

Village Justice Joseph Sperber is also making an unopposed bid for a third four-year term under the Community Party.

Polls will be open March 15 from noon to 9 p.m. in Village Hall at 2 Prospect St.

Incumbent Village of Williston Park trustees William Carr and Michael Uttaro are running unopposed for second four-year terms under the Integrity Party.

The pair in January touted progress toward resolving the two villages’ water-service dispute, which started just before they were elected in 2012.

Williston Park trustees are paid $7,150 per year.

Polls will be open March 15 from 12 to 9 p.m. in Williston Park’s Village Hall at 494 Willis Ave.

About the author

Noah Manskar

Noah Manskar is the assistant managing editor for Blank Slate Media and a reporter covering the Willistons, New Hyde Park and Nassau County government.
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