"I think it's pretty impressive that so many Baxter Estates Village voters came out to express their concern," said Fred Nicholson, the newly elected mayor as of the March 20 election. One hundred one residents from the approximately 250 houses that comprise the village voted for Nicholson for mayor and 60 for John Maher, who had served for two years as mayor and before that, five years as a trustee. Nicholson had also served as a trustee in the past. The three trustees, Charles Comer, Ray Keenan and Alice Peckelis, who ran uncontested, were also elected.
The election was unusual in that Nicholson's name was not on the ballot, though in the previous election, two years ago, Maher won over Mayor Jim Neville with a surprise write-in vote. However, four days before this election on March 16, Nicholson made his intentions clear that he wanted to be a write-in candidate for mayor. On that day almost every village resident received in the mail a typed three-page letter stating the reasons the voters should choose him as mayor. Maher, believing that he had enough support and that it was unnecessary to distribute a detailed rebuttal to voters, sent an email to many village residents alerting them to Nicholson's write-in campaign and asking them to come out to vote in the election. He felt he had done a good job and the voters would know this. Then when a letter of support for Fred Nicholson from former Mayor Jim Neville was emailed or put in voters' mailboxes the day of the vote, Maher said he realized too late that he should have conducted a full campaign, and refuted the complaints of Nicholson and Neville. Resident Andy Weissman quipped, "This is the only village where a mayor runs unopposed and loses."
After he was elected, Nicholson said he wanted to go forward and join with the voters and trustees in running a village government that is fair and responsive to everyone and enforces the codes already on the books. He is full of ideas, which he wants to share with the trustees first before making them public. Maher concedes that he was defeated and he wishes Nicholson well. Maher said he had seven years of service to the village and he will move on to other activities.
One of Nicholson's main complaints was that local codes were not being enforced uniformly. He targeted the building moratorium as unfair. He feels the existing codes if enforced protect homeowners from neighbors over-expanding their home. In his letter he stated, "There is nothing wrong with our building codes. . . .The new moratorium is hurting innocent people by not allowing them to sell their homes now." When asked about the building moratorium Maher said, "The village is vulnerable to the 'big box' houses that have proliferated in some nearby communities and strengthening of the code will help to protect residents against overshadowing large structures. The impact of the moratorium on homeowners has been small."
Nicholson criticized Maher's inaction concerning the poor water drainage on Central Drive which was not addressed before the repaving by Nassau County. Maher said he did everything possible in talks with Nassau County but they were unresponsive. There is a difference of opinion here.
Nicholson in his letter, which included goals and objectives, stated he wants timely posting of meeting minutes on the village website. The last minutes posted were November 2006. However, Maher is proud to have initiated the development of the website during his tenure.
Nicholson's impressive half-page of goals and objectives obviously persuaded voters. Still Maher felt that during his tenure there were many achievements such as the establishment of the Village Court, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Code Enforcement Officer, village office computerization and a separate entity-the Baxter's Pond Foundation. Maher said "The village has made great strides in recent years and I hope that Fred will bring further improvements."