In three out of the four Port Washington special districts, the incumbent commissioners are running unopposed in the special district election being held on Tuesday, Dec. 14, from noon to 9 p.m. at the Polish American Hall on Pulaski Place. In the Port Washington Water District, Commissioner Thomas J. Murray is completing his fifth-three year term. For the Port Washington Water Pollution Commissioner Don Kurz has served since 1984, and seeks his eighth-three year term of office.
The Port Washington Police District, which usually sees a (sometimes hotly) contested election, Commissioner Sal Zimbardi will again run unopposed, as he did in 2001 when he sought his second-three year term. Looking toward his third term, Commissioner Zimbardi remarked, "It is a privilege and an honor to serve as your police commissioner. I look forward with enthusiasm and commitment to continue serving the district as I work with my fellow commissioners to provide the best police service at the lowest cost to the taxpayers. Happy holidays to all."
With Port Washington Garbage District Commissioner Jimmy Kallenberg's decision to step down from his post this year and not seek re-election, two candidates have come forth looking to fill this three-year term. Douglas Schlaefer will again seek the position for which he made an unsuccessful bid for last year when incumbent commissioner Pat Van Dusen ran. Also throwing his hat in the ring is Bill Scaglione.
We asked both candidates what they propose to do if elected.
Mr. Schlaefer responded "With taxes and the environment paramount to most voters, I pledge fiscal discipline and improved recycling by partnering with businesses and the community." Speaking on this issue, he stated, "The quantity of electronic devices and batteries going into the waste stream is alarming. Other areas have had the makers of these items (i.e. Dell) pay to have them properly disposed of and furthermore save on tipping fees."
Another issue Mr. Schlaefer stresses is instituting absentee balloting provisions for the special districts. He would also like the district to have one meeting each month during the evening to allow greater community involvement."
Mr. Schlaefer was asked to address the concerns of residents who question if his relationship with Peter DeJana, whose carting company recently lost the district's contract, might present a conflict of interest for Mr. Schlaefer. He responded that as DeJana will no longer be carter as of January 1, 2005, and that is when-if elected for a three year term- he would take office, it would not be an issue. However, when it was pointed out that the contract comes up for bid again in two years, opening up the possibility that DeJana may bid, and conceivably win, at that time, it may become an issue. Mr. Schlaefer said, as it might become a matter of "appearances," he would consider recusing himself when necessary.
Mr. Scaglione responded that he will maintain the quality of leadership that has been in place for many years. "My focus will always be on the district's finances, protecting our quality of life and improving the district's policies and procedures. The district's actual total expenses are hard to forecast beyond two years because the contract bid is every two years and awarded to the lowest bidder. Competition in bidding is the most important factor in keeping the cost of collection down. If there is only one bid, as has happened in the past, the cost of collection can skyrocket."
Mr. Scaglione also feels that the commissioners should perform all the work necessary to run the district rather than hire employees, as some suggest. "This would create a major increase in the budget for years to come taking into consideration salaries, benefits, retirement insurance, etc.
He also wants to maintain efficiency by working closely with the town so "we realize what our mutual responsibilities are and there is no overlap in services."
Both candidates also provided biographies.
Mr. Schlaefer has 15 years of service to the Town of North Hempstead and Port Washington. He has worked in code enforcement for the Solid Waste Management Authority in Port Washington, and currently works in the town's department of public works. Before starting with the town, he was the owner of a local auto repair shop.
He is also the chairman of the Board of Zoning and Appeals for the Village of Manorhaven. His community involvement includes a seat on the Main Street Task Force, participation in the animal rescue with Have a Heart Adopt a Pet and volunteering in Earth Day cleanups each year.
Married for five years to Eileen, they have a daughter attending Port Washington public schools.
Mr. Schlaefer says, "I have the dedication and experience to do the job."
Mr. Scaglione has a background in engineering, which he says enables him to focus on using logical deduction methods in solving problems. "Over 27 years ago when I opened up Bill's Auto, I was able to fulfill my dream of having my own business," he stated. His wife grew up in Port, starting her career in town at a local insurance agency.
He and his wife were married at St. Peter's and have two daughters. He is involved in the local schools, youth groups, including PYA, CYO and various not-for-profit organizations. He has served as a director for the EMGA (Eastern Marketing Golf Association), handling finances, streamlining the operations and organizing events.
Again, voting will be at the Polish American Hall, 5 Pulaski Place (a few blocks north of Harbor Road) between noon and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14.