Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 21 December 2012 00:00
Reported first by the Mineola American on Friday, Dec. 14, the New Line Party announced its endorsements of current Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss, Trustee George Durham and 30-year Mineola resident Dennis Walsh for the March 2013 village elections. One familiar face was not on the ticket: current Trustee Larry Werther.
Werther, a founding member of the New Line Party, did not receive the party’s endorsement. He feels this was in the works well before the party announced its slate for the March 19, 2013 elections.
“It’s always easier to try to get rid of somebody, rather than negotiate,” said Werther. “Quite frankly, I think I proved my value to the village. Just look at the stuff that Jack [Martins] and I put together when we first got it in. The village was headed to fiscal ruin. We brought back fiscal sanity.”
His colleagues feel otherwise. Village officials stated that more than 20 people were present during the meeting.
“It’s my understanding from friends of mine who were there…they were told by [members of the New Line Party] that this was the slate of candidates of next year,” Werther stated. “I like Dennis, but I got to assume that they feel he’s going to vote as they see fit.”
Werther said Durham called him after the meeting, expressing disappointment that the party did not select him. Durham noted in a statement that was not the case.
“My personal conversation with Trustee Werther advising him that he was not on the New Line Party slate of candidates should not be misconstrued to suggest that I had any misgivings concerning the decision of the party,” said Durham.
Durham previously ran for trustee in 2006 and was selected to run in 2011 after then Trustee Thomas Kennedy did not seek re-election. Werther offered Durham to run on his ticket in 2013, but he declined.
“I was present at the time of the decision,” Durham said. “I voted for it. I stand by it. When I advised Trustee Werther that he was not nominated, he told me that he was left with no choice but to run for mayor.”
Durham stated that he was advised against calling Werther to notify him that he was not selected, but felt he would rather have Werther find out from him, rather than read about it in the newspaper. In the statement, he said he supports the New Line Party and its slate of chosen candidates.
“Larry Werther was not selected due to his failure to support the mayor and the New Line Party plan,” he said. “Having known Larry and his family for 25 years and having lived on the same road, I felt that I owed him a call. I was warned against calling Larry and was advised that if I did what I said would be twisted around and used against me. That apparently has happened.”
Durham and Werther were the lone abstaining votes approving changes to the Winston Manor Residential Complex agreement. Newsday reported the project was worth $92 million. Werther said he abstained because of his opposition to granting Polimeni International LLC a Nassau County-sanctioned 20-year PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes).
“The only reason I agreed to hear it and agreed to go forward are a couple of reasons,” said Werther. “For one, we’re putting it in a commercial area, so it does not impact any of the single-family houses. It doesn’t affect any of the characteristics of the neighborhoods. But the second and overriding reason, is that it’s the single most important thing to stabilize school taxes.”
Polimeni was supposed to build a parking garage. It was eliminated and the board approved the relocation of 40 parking spaces to be used for the rental dwelling.
Three months from now, village residents will go to the polls in the at-large (top vote getters win the seats) race with three seats open on the board. Werther said he plans to run again.
“I know I’m going to run for something,” Werther said. “You can take that to the bank. It’s just that I’m unsure if I’m going to run as a trustee or field a slate [of candidates] and run as mayor.”
Werther was named mayor after then-village helmsman Jack Martins won the race for the Seventh Senate District against Democrat Craig Johnson. He was sworn in on Dec. 15, 2010, while Strauss was tapped to fill the trustee seat left vacant by Werther’s promotion.
The Mineola American exclusively revealed in January 2011 that Werther, citing work responsibilities, would not seek the office of mayor in the 2011 elections.