Citing time restraints associated with a burgeoning law practice and a young family, Scott Wiss has announced his resignation from the position of Massapequa Park Village Trustee.
After conferring with Mayor Camillo Giannattasio in private, Wiss told the public about his decision at last Monday's regular village board meeting. Giannattasio has appointed John O'Brien, who had been serving as assistant mayor and as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, to fill the vacant village trustee position. The mayor also gave O'Brien's ZBA post to Wiss, who indicated that he wants to stay involved in village government, and that the ZBA requires a lesser time commitment than does the board of trustees.
In an interview this week, Wiss said that his decision to step down from the village board of trustees was spurred by extraordinary time commitments due to the success of his new Manhattan law practice, and the need to spend his rare free moments with his wife and children, ages 3 and 9 months.
"In the very end of August, I had an opportunity to start my own law firm," he said, "And it just exploded. I'm getting work like crazy. And, it's to the point that I'm coming home 11:30, 12 o'clock every night... So, I felt that right now, I really have to dedicate myself to my family and to my career."
He added that because of these commitments, he felt that he could no longer spend the proper amount of time on the trustee position. "I mean, I used to put in a lot of time as a trustee," he said. "I tried to do things the right way. I was always there, talking to the people, trying to resolve problems, dealing with their potholes, dealing with stop signs. And, believe it or not, it takes a lot of time ... And I just felt I couldn't do the job the way it should be done. I mean, I could have just stayed on, and hung on, and not do much, but it's really not my style. I don't think it's fair to the village, and it wouldn't be fair to someone who has the time right now, to put in."
Although Wiss and Giannattasio were rivals in the mayoral election in March, both he and the mayor seemed to have developed a smooth working relationship throughout the past several months, and this was confirmed by comments from both officials. Giannattasio said that he was disappointed to see Wiss go, and that he brought to the board a young perspective, as well as historical knowledge of the prior administration's policy decisions, and the reasoning behind these. "He voted with me on every major issue. He didn't vote for the budget - that was the first major vote, but except for that vote, once we settled down, and we started working together for the betterment of the village, we had open and free discussions," Giannattasio said. "We had developed an excellent working relationship. Every issue since then, we had voted together."
Wiss said that although he voted against the new mayor's budget, because it included a tax increase, he has gotten along well with Giannattasio. "I'm the type of person where, if someone does something right, even if they're my opponent, I try to give them credit for it. But when someone does something wrong, I also tell them I don't agree with it. And, I didn't agree with the tax increase, but with everything else, we've been working pretty closely together ever since then," Wiss said. "And, I think he came to realize that I'm not the monster that some of his people made me out to be during the election. And, I came to know him and form an opinion about him, which was pretty favorable ... And even if we didn't get along, we're both professionals and we have to do what's best for the entire village, and we both realized that."
Wiss noted that he also has a good relationship with O'Brien, that the new trustee's appointment has his blessing. He added that he has promised the mayor that he will help him and the board wherever he can, and that he plans to return to being more active in village politics once his business is more established.
Wiss began his service with the Village of Massapequa Park in 1992, when at age 26, he was appointed the municipality's youngest prosecuting attorney by then-Mayor George Nussbaum. After serving in that position for three years, he was tapped to fill the unexpired term of trustee Frank Flood in 1995. He successfully ran for re-election to the post twice.
O'Brien, who will fill Wiss' unexpired term until the elections in March, said he will seek re-election to the office. He will also continue in his role as assistant mayor, a voluntary position. A 45-year resident of the village and two-time member of the ZBA who has long been active in village politics, O'Brien added that he looks forward to serving as trustee.
"I've served the village for many years in other capacities, so I feel very happy about serving the village in this capacity," said O'Brien, who is a retired insurance professional. "I think all of this is very beneficial for the village, because you're going to have now, in myself, someone that has the time and the energy to serve the village, and to be here for the village."
Giannattasio added, "I'm excited about this move. Because to me it was simply a matter of moving people around on the same team, to where now Scott's comfortable, and John's comfortable. And, so I see it as a very big positive. And, I think it will work very well for everybody involved - especially the village."