The man who would be mayor. Philip Butch Grella on the steps of Sea Cliff Village Hall. Photo by Z. Christopoulos
In the first contested election for Sea Cliff mayor in at least a decade, a campaign sign urging voters to cast their ballots for Philip Grella can already be seen in the village. Mr. Grella, whom everyone in the community calls Butch, made a promise to himself during his final six years working in Sea Cliff's Department of Public Works. "When I retire, I'm going to run for mayor," he would say as he went about his daily routine. A routine which continued after work with a long-standing commitment to the Sea Cliff volunteer fire department.
Butch Grella is making good on his promise and, having gathered the requisite number of signatures on petitions, he is a candidate for mayor of Sea Cliff in the elections this March. He has chosen to name his party the Common Sense party and, in keeping with his unique style, he is running alone on the ticket. Mr. Grella refuses to accept campaign donations asking his fellow residents to go out in the village and spread his message. Butch promises to run a clean campaign and announced to the Sea Cliff village trustees during a board meeting last week, "We are friends now, and will be friends after the election."
Mr. Grella's platform includes several issues that have been the object of much debate in Sea Cliff over the years. He feels the zoning ordinances have to be changed to meet the village's needs and that residents can become exasperated with the way some things are done in the village, the building department in particular. Butch has no objections to the ferry proposed for Glen Cove and remembers that growing up in Sea Cliff years ago, there were industrial plants in Glen Cove bringing in much more car traffic to the city than the ferry will. He also said there were more barges going in and out of the harbor back then. To encourage business, Butch plans to eliminate what he says is the village's reputation of being anti-business. "We have to encourage some growth in business in our Village to work in conjunction with residents. We will try to address all issues with a common sense approach such as environmental issues, new construction situations, and the village's code of ordinances, among other things," said Mr. Grella during a recent interview. He said he will find, if it exists, the village's master plan which he has been hearing about for years but hasn't seen implemented. Butch will look at salvaging Tilley Steps, the audible fire alarm system, examining how code enforcement can be better served in the village considering the Nassau County Police already cover the village. If he is elected, he plans to appoint a qualified individual to investigate illegal housing problems. Depending on circumstances, cesspools may be placed on village property according to Mr. Grella. He will try to bring Village Hall into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and install an elevator. Butch will not accept the mayor's $5,200 annual salary because he is on a state pension and works part-time with the North Shore School District. Accepting the salary would put him over the legal limit.
Philip Grella has been a member of the Sea Cliff Fire Department for 39 years and was a second and first lieutenant. He served twice as captain. Butch was the company warden and department secretary. He served as second assistant chief, first assistant chief and as chief twice. Butch has a 23-year stint with the Sea Cliff Junior baseball Association. He has been active in the Scouts and American Red Cross. On his own time, he worked on the recycling program for the village. Mr. Grella is married to Barbara, (nee Maleszewski of Glen Cove), for 34 years. The couple has four children ages 15-32 and two grandchildren.
Meet the candidates night in Sea Cliff is March 4th. Election day is March 16th.