On Tuesday, Dec 8, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Polish American Hall, Port Washington residents will be voting in the 1998 police commissioner election. This year, incumbent Roy Smitheimer is seeking re-election, and being challenged by Sal Zimbardi.
Port News asked each candidate to submit a biography, state the reasons why they wanted to run and discuss their platforms.
Submitted by the Friends of Roy Smitheimer
Port Washington Police commissioner Roy Smitheimer, a longtime community activist, businessperson and Port resident, has formally announced his candidacy for re-election in the Tuesday, Dec. 8 Police District election.
Smitheimer, who was first elected as commissioner in 1995, says that he is running to continue his work to lower taxes, bring greater fiscal stability to the Police District and increase public safety through better services.
"I'm proud of the work I've done as commissioner for the past three years," said Smitheimer. "Since 1996, we've increased public safety through the implementation of the Enhanced 911 System and by increasing the number of bicycle patrol officers in the community."
"By settling many of the lawsuits the district faced over the actions of prior boards, we've brought stability back to the police department for the first time since 1991, enabling our long troubled district to move toward the 21st century in a more positive fashion."
In terms of the district's finances, Smitheimer points to the fact that he voted to lower taxes in 1997 and offered alternate budgets for the 1998 and 1999 fiscal years which would have lessened the tax burden had they been adopted by the board of commissioners. Smitheimer also invited the state comptroller's office into the district to review its past financial practices and suggest ways in which they could improve them. He also worked to implement stricter fiscal controls over federal asset forfeiture monies the district collected in a major drug bust.
When Smitheimer ran in 1995, he pledged to bring the district into conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. Additionally, he called for stricter and more proper bidding procedures. Smitheimer proudly notes that he has accomplished both of these goals in his first term as commissioner.
"For many years, the district's financial procedures had gotten out of control," commented Smitheimer. "My top priority as commissioner has been to ensure that our tax dollars are spent wisely and that there is accountability for every dollar spent by the Port Washington Police District. I'm happy to report that my efforts paid off and that the finances of the Port Washington Police District are now more closely monitored."
A member of the Port Washington Fire Department (Fire Medic Co. #4), Smitheimer is a NYS Certified Emergency Medical Technician and has used his knowledge in this area to help the Port Washington Police District become the first police agency in Nassau County certified in the use of Automatic External Defibrillators. These devices, used on heart attack victims, can greatly increase the chance of a victim's survival if used quickly. Each squad car in the Port Washington Police Department is now equipped with one of these devices. Combined with the defribillators in use by the Port Fire Department, this makes Port Washington the best-covered area in Nassau County for response to heart attack cases.
A firm believer in interagency cooperation among emergency service personnel, Smitheimer has spearheaded efforts to foster better communication between the Port Washington Police and Fire Departments. As part of that effort, the police district has loaned the fire department five of its automatic external defibrillators. Additionally, the district has purchased state of the art radios that have allowed for better communications between the police department and other emergency service agencies. Nine of these radios have been loaned to the Port Washington Fire Department in order to increase public safety in emergencies.
Smitheimer also fought to fund a variety of community organizations, utilizing over $40,000 is asset forfeiture funds to provide grants to the Port Washington Counseling Center, Port Washington Teen Center, PAL and the Port Washington Teen Summer Show. These funds went toward drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs. Several other community groups have also applied for funding through this program and the district is now awaiting the final approval from the federal government.
One of the recent reforms for which Smitheimer is most proud involves reforming the election process in the district. Due to the efforts of Smitheimer and the present board of commissioners, absentee ballot voting will finally be available to the homebound, students and those traveling on Election Day. Additionally, voting hours have been expanded from the previous six hour window of 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Voters may now cast their ballots from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., allowing commuters, working people and seniors a greater opportunity to make their voice heard in the Police District.
A graduate of Alfred University with credits toward his masters degree in business administration from Hofstra University, Roy Smitheimer presently serves as the executive director of the Greater Port Washington Business Improvement District. Smitheimer also works part time as a real estate agent with Hyde Realty in Port Washington. He is the past president of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and the Nassau Council of Chambers of Commerce. He is a founding member of "Pride in Port," the Port Washington Harbor Fest, the Port Washington Child Care Partnership and the Nassau County Anti-Graffiti Task Force. Smitheimer is also a past director of the Port Washington Community Chest, a member of Residents for a More Beautiful Port Washington, Port Washington/Manhasset Cancer Care and a number of other community groups. He and his wife Karen A. Mezzullo, reside on Henderson Avenue.
Submitted by Friends of Roy Smitheimer
(Mr. Zimbardi submitted the following bio.)
My name is Sal Zimbardi, I am 57 years old and a 48 year resident of Port Washington. My family goes back to the 1930s when my father owned a barbershop on Port Washington Blvd and was known as "Eddie the barber." Mom and Dad are retired now. They're both in their 80s and live out East.
I am married to Fran Teta for 35 years. We have three grown children.
I graduated C.W. Post College in 1963, with a BS degree in accounting. I graduated from Adelphi University in 1998 with the designation Certified Financial Planner. I established my accounting and tax practice in 1970. In 1985, I expanded my practice to include financial planning services for businesses and individuals. I participated as a member of the audit team that audited various municipalities, including a township, village, garbage district and water district, all located on Long Island. In early 1997, the Board of Police Commissioners appointed me financial liaison to the board, and I worked pro bono (without compensation).
I am an active member of the Port Washington Fire Department for 37 years. I was elected captain and member of the board of directors. I was co-chairman of parades and block parties for over 20 years. I am an active member in the Sons of Italy, and elected treasurer and trustee. I am an active member of the Lions Club of Port Washington and serve as an assistant secretary. I am a member of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and team sponsor for the PAL.
I had been attending police district meetings regularly for the past six or seven years and am familiar with its operations. I have extensive expertise in finance, budgeting, business administration and management that are necessary for carrying out the duties of Police Commissioner. I want to continue the work that I started in 1997 to bring our police district back to sound financial condition.
What I have helped to accomplish in my short tenure as financial liaison to the board.
By analyzing the district's financial statements, I identified glaring weaknesses in our financial condition.
1- We have prepared and implemented a sound financial plan to strengthen our financial condition.
2- We have reduced debt by $367,000 and saved approximately $105,000 in interest expense.
3- We have established a reserve account for compensated absences whereby when the police officers retire, money will be in the account to pay their unused accumulated sick and vacation time. In the year 2001, 19 police officers (1/3 of our police force) will be able to retire and collect approximately $2.4 million in lump-sum termination pay.
4- We have provided funding to restore the fund balance (emergency money) to the proper level of about 5 percent of the budget.
5- We have taken the first steps to bring our police department back to sound financial condition. However, much more needs to be done which will take experience, knowledge and vision to succeed.
* Continue with the financial plan that I helped develop in 1997. This plan attacks the financial crisis caused by my opponent's neglect of duty and reckless, irresponsible fiscal management. This plan will strengthen our financial condition and ultimately cut taxes. The first phase of the plan is implemented and is working. My opponent voted against the plan. Our almost $5 million debt has been funded/reduced by $1 million with no help from my opponent.
* Provide for a long-term drug education program in our schools that teaches our children the dangers and evils of using drugs. Coordinate the program with school officials and use a portion of the $2 million drug bust money now sitting in a bank account to fund the program.
* Aggressively work with federal and state elected officials to get our fair share of grants (free money) so as to cut our taxes.
* Require that all contracts for services to the district are competitively bid, so that we buy at the best price. Let's stop awarding contracts to commissioners' friends and business acquaintances without competitive bidding.
* Stop the waste of taxpayer money on public relations and media consultants and use our local newspapers to transmit important information.
* Additional tax cuts will be made by eliminating the waste and duplication of effort that now exists within the administrative side of our police district.
* Will not permit any vendor bill to be paid until it goes through the established accounting procedure with full backup provided.
* Get our accountant to give the district monthly financial reports rather than quarterly reports. This will enable the commissioners to keep a closer eye on our finances.
* I will bring fiscal integrity and professional management of your tax dollars as your police commissioner.