Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 20 January 2012 00:00
Every two years, it gets dicey for elected officials, no matter how popular or unpopular they are. At times, incumbents go unopposed while others see a dogfight until Election Day. Will Mineola watch as seats are battled for? Stay tuned.
Current trustees Paul Cusato and Paul Pereira are both seeking re-election to serve another two-year term on the Mineola Village Board of Trustees. New Line Party candidate Pereira and Hometown Party staple Cusato revealed this to local media last Wednesday Jan. 11.
It is unknown at this time if any challengers will surface to vie for the two seats. In 2010, current trustee George Durham and Mustang Party candidate Christopher Wales jostled for the seat vacated by then-trustee Thomas Kennedy.
Kennedy announced in a Mineola American exclusive that he would not seek re-election last year to take an increased role with a Manhattan bank. Cusato and Pereira said they had not heard of any challengers surfacing.
Petitions were legally allowed to be circulated starting Jan. 3. The petitions can be filed as early as Feb. 7 (not before) and no later than Feb. 14.
Cusato, a longtime and current active member of the Mineola Fire Department, was first elected to the board of trustees in 2004 and was re-elected in 2006 and 2008. He is looking to serve his fifth consecutive term. The current board consists of Pereira, Cusato, trustees George Durham and Larry Werther and Mayor Scott Strauss.
“I really enjoy the job,” said Cusato. “I love representing the people of my village. It’s a great village. We have a great group of people that make up this community. Everyone has a giving [personality].”
Pereira, who was elected in 2008 and is looking to serve his third consecutive term, said his first term on the board was a learning experience, but felt he has been an asset to the board. He was designated deputy mayor on reorganization night on April 4.
These two village board mainstays have overseen the development of many key undertakings in the village. Pereira and Cusato have been at the forefront of the proposed $60 million Winthrop Facility on Second Street, the saga of the Winston Manor project, the development of Station Plaza under former mayor Jack Martins and the Bruce Terrace Flood remediation initiative.
“I want to see this Bruce Terrace flood issue through,” Pereira said. “I believe in the direction we were going in when I first ran for the board under Jack [Martins]. I think he put us on a good road and Scott [Strauss] has kept us on that road for the last year.”
For Pereira, two years is not a long time and he wants to keep his watchful eye on the current developments in the village of Mineola. He also has his eye set on a soccer field, something Cusato agrees with.
“I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it within the next two years but one of the things I’m passionate about is getting a turf field for our kids,” Pereira stated. “Whether it’s Field 3 or Field 2, I’m not sure, but I’ve been voicing my opinion on that with minimal impact on taxes.”
The New Line Party currently holds a 4-1 majority on the board.
“I’ve known Paul [Cusato] for a long time and I respect him tremendously. I’m glad he’s continuing to run,” said Pereira.
“Bruce Terrace needs to be done with, without a doubt,” Cusato said. “That affects many homes. I want to see the Winston project come full circle and the Winthrop project build up our community. Bruce Terrace is a main point that needs to be resolved.”
Cusato and Pereira have more in common than their first names; both are graduates of Mineola High School (Pereira in 1989 and Cusato in 1966). In fact, Cusato is one of the founding members of the Mineola High School Alumni Foundation and Pereira is currently a history teacher at the school and the coach of the boy’s soccer team.
Election Day is Tuesday, March 20.