Massapequa Park Village Trustee Joseph Pinto made an announcement last week that he would be crossing over from the Village Integrity Party to the Front Street Party, leaving the board with no representatives of the party that once reigned supreme in the village.
Joseph Pinto Photo by Ed Cox
Although the two parties are very similar in philosophy, members of the VIP Party, last year, branched off because of some issues that were not agreed upon and formed the Front Street Party in time for the last village election. The founding members of the new party included Mayor Camillo Giannattasio; Trustee Robert Wilcox; Robert Thompson, who founded the VIP in 1976; John O'Brien, who was recently appointed to the board to finish out the term of Scott Wiss who ran last year as mayor on the VIP line and then stepped down from the board last November; and Gail Klubnick, who in March will be running unopposed for the board seat being vacated by William Van Wagner.
"We founded the Front Street Party because we wanted to take the best things from the Village Integrity Party and continue," said Giannattasio. He noted that the two major issues that made them branch off and form a new party were the four year term that newer members of the VIP were pushing and the dismissal of four members of the planning commission, which Giannattasio and others felt the party had no right to do. "Those were the two galvanizing issues that led us to believe that if we were going to go forward, we were going to have to form our own party," said Giannattasio. The mayor added that the VIP of today is not the party he belonged to in the past, that the newer members of the party changed it. All the founding members of the Front Street Party were at one time members of the Village Integrity Party.
Pinto, who was elected last March as a member of the VIP has become the latest member of that party to change alliances. "Joe and I have been working very closely since April and his philosophy and my philosophy are so much alike that it was such a natural fit for him to come and join the Front Street Party," said Giannattasio of the switch. Pinto echoed these sentiments in explaining his change to the Front Street Party, adding that he did not want to run against either Giannattasio or Wilcox in next year's election.
"Look at the stuff we've done over 10 months," said Pinto. "I don't think any other administration has done that much in such a short period of time so I'm very happy to be a part of that and I want to maintain that."
Giannattasio noted that his and Pinto's political philosophies are very similar, adding, "I'm delighted to have him officially on my team. He's always been on my governing team, we've always voted together on every issue. I'm sure it was a tough decision for him to leave the VIP but on the other hand, on a philosophical point of view, it was almost a natural move for him."
Van Wagner, a member of the VIP, who in the last election supported Giannattasio over VIP mayoral candidate Wiss, will not be running for re-election this year, leaving the VIP with no candidate for the March elections.
"We've entered the next century and I think the Front Street Party's going to take us there," concluded Pinto.