Written by Rich Forestano Thursday, 28 March 2013 09:28
Dennis Walsh and incumbent George Durham were the two top vote getters for Mineola village trustee last Tuesday, garnering 858 votes and 836 votes respectively. Ten-year village trustee Larry Werther nabbed 463 votes. Mayor Scott Strauss ran unopposed, securing 1,117 tallies.
The victory of Durham and Walsh secures a majority for the New Line Party on the Mineola Village Board, with Paul Cusato as the lone Hometown Party representative. Walsh, 62, a retired NYPD cop, received the New Line endorsement in 2012.
“It was different being a candidate than being a campaign worker,” Walsh said. “For me, it was much more mentally stimulating. I’ve been sitting in [the board room] for 10 years and I thought it was time to do something,” he said. “I’m going to educate myself as much as I can.”
Walsh’s first concern was the Overlay District in Mineola. Approximately eight years ago, Mineola created the district, which is the area around the Mineola railroad corridor for the purpose of converting it from commercial and industrial areas to residential components.
“It’s the incentive zoning area,” he said. “Each project is looked at separately. [The overlay district] is part of a smart growth idea. It’s good to develop around the Mineola Train Station.”
Werther kick-started an independent bid after he was dropped from the New Line Party ticket in December, launching the Mineola My Home Party. Heated exchanges, accusations, he said/he said banter and rumors have dominated recent board meetings. The tension between Strauss and Werther could be sliced with a razor blade leading up to March 19.
“Just because they stop paying you doesn’t mean you stop caring about the village,” he said. “It is what it is. In life you have to deal with things. I thank God for my kids, my wife and beyond that everything is secondary. I met some spectacular people and got a lot of support. Obviously some people did not come out and vote and that’s fine.
Bitterness, regret or anger are the farthest things from Werther’s mind. He called them “useless emotions.”
“I thought I kept it pretty much above board,” he said. “The thing is, if you look at the issues. Some of the videos I posted…I wanted a local law to help firefighters. Scott said I’m reinventing the wheel. I went to two other departments and they said there’s nothing like that anywhere.”
Village sources feel he ran more of a campaign at Mayor Scott Strauss, rather than against Durham or Walsh. Strauss decided to focus on village issues.
“We’re working through the budget and have a lot of projects ahead of us that need to be monitored,” Strauss said. “We have a lot of things we want to do.”
Strauss said the residents chose their candidate and that Walsh is not “just coming into this cold,” commending him for attending all the meetings and staying active in the community.
“He’s going to be a great asset to the board,” Strauss said. “George is an asset to the board also. He’s been successful. He and I go back a long way. Larry served the village for 10 years. He was a part of many good things and I wish him well.”
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.
“For re-election, it was different this time around,” said Durham. “People came out, got signatures for us; walked around. When we were walking around, there was a lot of positive feedback from the residents. I think [Dennis] will fit in because I think he’s been at every meeting since I was trustee. But I think it’s close to 10 years that he’s been involved in the community.
Durham said he was surprised Werther didn’t run for mayor.
“Larry did a lot for the village,” Durham stated. “In the end, it was a bit contentious with everything between Scott [Strauss] and him. The issues and contentions that [Werther] had would have been a cause for running for mayor.”