Little suspense in East Williston, Mineola elections

James Galloway

Voters will decide the mayor and two trustees in both East Williston and Mineola in elections next week, but with no contested races, the only remaining drama may be the turnout.

In East Williston, Mayor David Tanner and Deputy Mayor Bonnie Parente are both running for re-election. A third candidate, James Iannone, is running for the trustee seat of Caroline DeBenedittis, who decided not to seek re-election.

In Mineola, Mayor Scott Strauss and Trustees Dennis Walsh and George Durham are all running a joint campaign for re-election.

The election is scheduled for Wednesday, March 18. The East Williston polls will be open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the East Williston village hall. Mineola polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Mineola village hall.

Tanner and Parente, members of the same village party, are running a joint campaign. Both are unopposed.

Tanner, a financial consultant to local governments, has served as mayor since 2011. Prior to that he spent 13 years as a village trustee.

“I got involved in village government because I appreciated the opportunity to try to help people,” he said.

Parente, an attorney, won a contested election for trustee in 2011, after which Tanner appointed her deputy mayor. Her father is the former deputy mayor of Mineola, where she grew up, she said.

“I grew up in local politics,” she said. “I always thought in the back of my mind that I would eventually be in local politics.”

Iannone, a former assistant district attorney in Queens, now runs a private law practice in Williston Park. A volunteer firefighter, Iannone said teamwork would be one of his strengths on the board.

“I will listen to the opinions of the other trustees and the mayor, as well as the residents, and always try to put the village’s interests first,” he said. “I love the village and I want to keep the things that make it special here.”

All three East Williston candidates said their top priority is to resolve the village’s ongoing dispute with Williston Park over water rates. The two villages have been engaged in negotiations to reach a long-term deal in the rate Williston Park would charge East Williston for water.  

The East Williston board has explored building its own water supply at an estimated cost of $7 million if they are unable to reach an agreement.

“I’m optimistic that we’ll have a clear direction as to what we’ll be doing with the water,” Tanner said following the most recent meeting between villages.

In Mineola, Strauss, Durham and Walsh all belong to the village’s New Line Party and are running a joint campaign.   

Strauss, a former chief of the Mineola fire department and a 9/11 emergency responder as a member of the New York Police Department, has served as mayor since 2011.

Durham, a childhood friend of Strauss and data communications manager for Nassau Off Track Betting, is seeking his third two-year term on the board. He said that during his tenure, the board has kept tax increases below 2 percent, maintained a pay-as-you-go policy to avoid borrowing and invested in infrastructure.

As the former chairman of downtown revitalization for the planning committee, Durham also played a significant role in 2005 in drafting the village’s “Master Plan,” an outline of long-term development goals for the village.

Walsh, a retired member of the NYPD, has served as a trustee since 2013. He said he has not missed a public meeting in Mineola since 2003.

“I sat in row seven (of village hall) since 2003 at every single hearing, master plan hearing, every police hearing,” he said. “I haven’t missed a public meeting, hearing or work session since 2003.”

Attendance has remained one of Walsh’s strong suits as trustee, he said.

“I try to be omnipresent at every event – every ribbon cutting, every hearing,” he said. “I put in a tremendous amount of time; I never miss anything.”

Both Walsh and Durham said they would like to oversee the development of the downtown area in a way that benefits the village.

“I’m going to run again because I want to see downtown develop. I like implementing the Master Plan,” Walsh said.

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