Avena elected mayor, change comes to Manorhaven board

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Avena elected mayor, change comes to Manorhaven board

After a highly contested race in Manorhaven, residents elected Trustee Jim Avena as mayor and incumbent Priscilla von Roeschlaub and newcomer Ken Kraft as trustees.

Avena received  505 votes, running against former Mayor Gary Pagano, who had 371. Von Roeschlaub and Kraft each were elected with 449 votes, beating Roy Smitheimer, who had 420 votes, and Barbara Ruemenapp, who had 352. 

“I’m very excited and I’m very hopeful,” von Roeschlaub said after being re-elected. “We’re committed to the best interests in the village.”

“It’s a good feeling,” Kraft said. “Being the new guy in town, it feels good.” 

Mayor Giovanna Giunta and Trustee Kevin Gately  did not run for re-election.

Village Clerk Leslie Gross said that Avena will choose someone to fill his trustee seat at an organizational meeting on July 5, and the board will vote on it. 

The five-member board consists of four trustees and the mayor. 

According to Gross, trustees are paid $3,000 a year and the mayor is paid $7,000. 

In Sands Point, incumbent Trustees Lynn Najman and Peter Forman as well as Village Justice Alyson Adler were re-elected.

Najman was elected for a two-year  term with 81 votes, Forman was elected for a two-year  term with 82 votes, and Adler won a four-year justice term with 84 votes. 

All candidates in Manorhaven promised change as the village board confronts the issue of whether to allow development along the waterfront.

Moving forward, von Roeschlaub said when it comes to the concerns of the waterfront, the board will look carefully and work with the residents. 

“It’s not a black and white issue. We have to look at it carefully,” she said. “We’re going to have meetings with residents and take their opinions and listen to them. We’re going to have the residents have a say in what’s happening in the community. It’s going to be hard, its easier to make a decision on your own, but that’s not how it works. We have to work together.” 

“Our waterfront is our most precious asset,” Avena said. “Wherever we end up, involving the entire village in the idea and planning process is a must.”

Avena said he will ease parking problems, including limiting alternate side parking to snow emergencies, institute an effective snow removal plan, fully staff code enforcement, buildings and public works and make sure that they function at the highest level of efficiency and effectiveness, and repair and maintain the infrastructure needed for the dense population. 

Kraft, a retired Nassau County police officer, said he wants to create a “workable village board,” which he said has been lacking. 

“It’s been like a gridlock, nothing can get done,” Kraft said. “And the only people that suffer are the people in the village.’’ 

“I want to put the discord that has become commonplace in our village’s politics behind us and move forward with our residents for a better Manorhaven,” Avena said. “This negative, self-serving energy is harming our beautiful village’s reputation and prevents our government from operating effectively.”

Von Roeschlaub, who ran on a slate with Avena, said she thanks the residents for going out and voting for Avena, Kraft and herself. 

“We promise to work hard and we’re going to value everyone’s opinion and we’re really going to improve the quality of life,” she said.

Von Roeschlaub said she’d like to “create a more beautiful village,” including enhancements to Manorhaven Boulevard and a thriving commercial district, with high quality shops and restaurants.

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