On Tuesday, June 19 the Village of Manorhaven will conduct an election for two vacancies on its board of trustees. Three candidates are running: John M. Di Leo, Jr. (incumbent) and Rita Di Lucia on the People's Independent Choice (PIC) and Light parties, and Rita Santelli is running on the Guardian party line. Voting will take place at Village Hall, 33 Manorhaven Boulevard. Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Port Washington News asked each of the three candidates to submit a short biography and to answer each of the following questions: (1) Why are you running for trustee? and (2) What is/are the most important thing(s) that you hope to accomplish if elected?
Di Leo is completing his second term as a Trustee of the Village of Manorhaven and is seeking re-election. He is a homeowner in Manorhaven.
Di Leo is a third-generation resident of Manorhaven and has lived in the village his entire life. A graduate of Schreiber High School, John owns and operates a local landscaping business that has been based in Manorhaven for 18 years. Prior to his election as village trustee in 2003, John served for six years as a member of the village's board of zoning appeals.
Di Leo is active in a number of community organizations. He said that he takes great pride in his commitment to the Sons of Italy (John Michael Marino Lodge - 1839), in which he was a trustee for four years and currently serves as Sentinel. Each year he serves as chairman of the Lodge's Family Picnic. He is also active in the local business community, and is a past board member of both the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and the North Hempstead Contractors/Business Association. He is an Associate Member of the Long Island Farm Bureau.
Di Leo said, "It has been my pleasure to serve as your village trustee for the past four years. In that time, I have always tried to do what is right for our village and our residents. I have been open to everyone's ideas and opinions, and spent a great deal of time listening to everyone's concerns."
Di Leo said, "I recently participated in training with the American Red Cross, and obtained certification in Shelter Operations and Mass Care. In the event of a natural disaster or catastrophic event affecting our village, I am trained to set up temporary shelters and perform other necessary tasks.
Di Leo added, "Over the years, I have seen our village go through many changes, but it has never lost the natural charm that seems to attract new residents every day. With continued support from friends, neighbors and residents in the upcoming election, I will be able to continue to serve my hometown, so that Manorhaven will be the best place on Long Island to live, work and raise a family."
Di Lucia, wife of current trustee David Nick Di Lucia, is running for public office for the first time. She has been a resident and homeowner in Manorhaven for the past 13 years and is a lifelong resident of Port Washington. She is a graduate of Schreiber High School and received an A.A.S. degree in business and import/export. For the past 11 years, she has worked from home as a Product Import Manager for an international toy manufacturer.
Actively involved in the community, Rita is the incoming Financial Secretary of the Port Washington Columbiettes. She is a member of the John Michael Marino Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the Manorhaven School PTA and the Concerned Citizens of Manorhaven. Rita volunteers for the Port Washington/Manhasset Chapter of CancerCare.
Di Lucia resides in Manorhaven with her husband and their children, Nico (age 9) and Mary Elisa (age 6). Both youngsters are students at Manorhaven School. The family attends St. Peter's R.C. Church.
Di Lucia said that she is emphasizing a number of issues in her campaign. She added, "As a wife, parent and active community member, my main reason for running is to protect and improve the quality of life for all the families in our village."
Di Lucia said, "One of the main points I am stressing in my campaign is the importance of keeping Manorhaven as a waterfront community. Our waterfront and marina areas need to be improved and cleaned up. However, any potential new activity must be approached very carefully and cautiously, so that our waterfront is maintained as a resource for the entire community, and does not become a target for developers." She added, "I look forward to serving my village in a way that will bring people together for the common good of the community. Building on my deep familiarity with and love for Manorhaven, I am willing and able to give my time for the betterment of everyone."
Rita Santelli received her B.A. in English at Marymount College in Rome, Italy. She also studied at the Conservatory of Music in Foggia Italy, specializing in Piano and Music Theory. She is a NYS Licensed Salesperson.
Santelli has worked as an English and Italian Teacher at the NATO Base in Taranto, Italy and has also been employed at the Foreign Exchange Department of the American Express Company in New York City. She has also worked as a commercial artist.
Santelli has served the Port Washington community in many roles, including: Trustee, Port Washington Public Library and member of the library's Public Relations Committee; member, Planning Board, Village of Manorhaven; Lector, Our Lady of Fatima Church; president, Concerned Citizens of Manorhaven-Civic Organization; member, Columbiettes; past president, Doe Club; Port Washington, Elk Lodge; member, Order of Sons of Italy, John Michael Marino Lodge; and member, Photography Club of Long Island.
She speaks fluent Italian and conversational Spanish.
Santelli lives in Manorhaven with her husband John. They have one daughter, Rita Joan.
Santelli said, "The present administration is entrenched in office and so being has not brought anything new to the front for the greater good of the people of Manorhaven. I represent a time for a change. I notice that the infrastructure of the village is in a downward spiral. Monthly trustee meetings do not address the concerns of the people of Manorhaven with responses. There is a severe feeling of frustration by the villagers. Presently we lack honest experience, dynamic integrity and sincere dependability in our village officers. My experiences have displayed to me that one person can make a difference. I believe I am that person."
Santelli listed seven things that she would work on correcting if elected.
1. Last years village taxes skyrocketed 25 percent.
2. This year's budget was increased by 3.6 percent with a statement by the present administration that "it was a minimal increase."
3. The sewer problem is at a standstill.
4. The cell phone tower that emits radiation that can be harmful should be studied further.
5. The infrastructure of the village should be repaired.
6. The policy of non-residents serving on village boards should be abandoned.
7. Senior citizens require attention and help.
She added, "To accomplish these important issues I need a mandate from the villagers, that is, an overwhelming number of votes to demonstrate that villagers are dissatisfied with the present administration."