Oyster Bay Town Council Member

Posted: 10/29/2017 16:35:00 -04:00 Updated:

Steven A. Abreu - P

Background
Abreu, 28, of Plainview, is running on the Progressive party line. He is a behavioral aide for children and adults with autism. He has an associate degree in liberal arts from Nassau Community College and a bachelor’s degree in politics, economics and law from SUNY Old Westbury. He was born in Queens and grew up in Plainview and Hicksville. He is single.

Issues
Abreu, a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders at the 2016 Democratic convention, said he was inspired by Sanders — a former mayor of Burlington, Vermont — to run for local office. “He made a lot of changes locally, and not just on federal level,” Abreu said. “I want to have an immediate, direct impact on my community.” Abreu said that as a third-party candidate, he won’t be beholden to Republican or Democrat party leaders. Abreu said to get the town’s shaky finances back on track, there must be “a truly independent review of all of our functions, all of the departments, all of the different public services we provide, to really find out how the money is being spent, where it’s being spent, who it’s being spent on it, and what we’re getting in return … Some six-figure salaries are highly questionable.” Developers, law firms and others that donate to town candidates should be barred from holding town contracts, Abreu said.

Charles A. Brisbane - Ref

Background
Brisbane, 65, a real estate broker from Locust Valley, is running on the Reform Party line. In addition to working as broker, he is a partner in a family commercial real estate business. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from C.W. Post. He is president of the Locust Valley library board. He is married, with two adult children.

Issues
Brisbane said what he’s most concerned about is “crony politics,” citing the appointments of “like-minded successors” to town government. “You really need to open these boards up for the proper work to get done,” he said. Brisbane said he would like to see term limits imposed so that board members could serve no more than 12 years. To address financial problems, he said, the town needs to do an inventory of its assets and services to assess potential sales or privatization. “In order to find out what’s providing the greatest benefit for the least amount of money, you need to have a complete review of what the town owns and what it provides services for,” Brisbane said. He said changes are often needed in government procedures that have been done a certain way for a long time. “You get old practices that are taken for granted because people get comfortable in those seats, but [they] are no longer efficient,” he said.

Michael Castellano - Ref

Background
Castellano, 56, of Centre Island, is running on the Reform arty line. He is a surgeon. Castellano has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Union College in Schenectady and a doctor of medicine degree from New York Medical College in upstate Valhalla. He is a member of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich Central School District board. Castellano grew up in Connecticut. He is married and has three children.

Issues
Castellano said his top priority is improving the town’s finances. “I want to understand why we ended up in so much debt in a relatively small town, but we don’t see any real services,” he said. “Our streets are not paved well. I don’t see anything special that we have in our town that is different than any other town, but we spend so much money.” He wants to examine every line in the budget and every town contract to make sure money is being spent efficiently. He said the town should explore partnerships such as sharing parks and facilities with schools. Castellano said another priority is ensuring clean water by, for example, barring the use of fertilizer near shorelines. He is skeptical of Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s claims of improving transparency, including the creation of an inspector general office that Castellano believes will be too costly and not independent enough.

Blaire P. Fellows - P

Background
Fellows, 32, is running on the Progressive line. She grew up and lives in Jericho and has a law practice in Farmingdale with running mate Jonathan Clarke. She has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Hofstra University and a law degree from Touro Law Center. She is single.

Issues
Fellows said she is “not happy with the establishment two-party system” in Nassau County because she said it has facilitated corruption. She said that, if elected, she would be free of influence from either major party in, for example, participating in hiring decisions. Fellows said she would not accept donations from any person or company that does business with the town. She said stabilizing town finances is a priority, and “in order to get rid of the debt, you have to cut jobs.” She said she’d only lay off employees with six-figure salaries, because there are too many highly paid town workers. Fellows said she’d also consolidate town agencies to create efficiencies. She said that, to increase transparency, she’d put all contracts, permits and other town documents online. Fellows favors tax incentives to attract more technology jobs to the town, and wants to seek federal and state grants to build housing that would be affordable to young people.

Robert Freier - D, IN, WF, WEP

Background
Freier, 54, of Woodbury, is running on the Democratic, Independence, Women’s Equality and Working Families party lines. He is an executive recruiter. He graduated from Wheatley High School and received a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications and systems management from Ohio University. He served on the East Williston school board from 2008 to 2012. He is married, with two children.

Issues
Freier said the main issues facing the town are corruption, lack of government transparency and the need to develop downtowns. Freier said he wants to “hire people who are the most qualified for the job, not the most connected.” He said elected officials should not accept campaign contributions from town employees. “They shouldn’t feel like they need to give the people they work for, or under, political contributions,” Freier said. The town should create a system like New York City’s 311 system, which gives residents a single phone number to report problems and get information, Freier said. He said he wants the town to have a “forensic audit” of town finances and let residents know what the results are. He also said he wants Oyster Bay to be more affordable for young families through transit-oriented development. “We want to build smart, developed downtowns and kind of use Farmingdale as a model because it’s worked there,” Freier said. He said he also wants more town information to be online. “We can literally put all the town’s business on the website and make it searchable,” Freier said.

Thomas P. Hand - C, R, TRP

Background
Hand, 57, of Massapequa Park, is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines. He was appointed to the town board in May to fill a vacancy. He is a senior manager at FedEx Express, where he’s worked since 1984. He was elected to the Massapequa Water District board in 2012 and served as its chairman. He received his undergraduate degree in business management and master’s degree in labor and policy studies from Empire State University in Westbury. He is married, with two daughters.

Issues
Hand said the town needs to focus on ethics, fiscal responsibility, and paying down its debt. “It’s important to restore the public’s trust,” Hand said. A part of that restoration in light of the arrests of former town officials and contractors in recent years is increased transparency and vetting of contracts, he said. “Open government is very important,” Hand said. “The public should never fear that their leaders are going to do something that’s not in the best interest of the public.” To help get its fiscal house in order, the town may be able to sell some property to get it back on the tax rolls, and reduce its use of outside contractors and do more work with town employees. Hand said he was “not sold on the idea” of moving town public safety officers to Nassau County, a proposal made in the town budget that was opposed by the town’s public employee union. “I do believe in honoring the collective bargaining agreement,” Hand said. “There’s a no-layoff contract and we have a potential loss of control and direction of the safety officers if they go over to Nassau County.” Hand said that cleaning up the Grumman plume in Bethpage was a “top priority.”

Louis Imbroto - C, R, TRP, Ref

Background
Imbroto, 33, of Plainview, is running on the Republican, Conservative, Reform and Tax Revolt party lines. He was appointed to the town board in March to fill a vacancy. He received an undergraduate degree from Fordham University and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He previously worked as assistant general counsel at NuHealth, which includes Nassau University Medical Center, and as an assistant town attorney in Oyster Bay. He also worked as an associate attorney for the Garden City firm of Berkman, Henoch, Peterson, Peddy & Fenchel P.C. and as a manager of policy and government relations and in-house counsel for the Long Island Contractors Association. He is single.

Issues
Imbroto said he wants to restore public trust in government, lower property taxes, make government easier to access and revitalize downtowns. He said the town should repeat the open and public procurement process it used to select new concessionaires earlier this year “as often as possible.” Though in some cases the law requires sealed bids, he said, for “any issue that’s up to the discretion of the board, I believe we should be doing out in the open.” Imbroto said the town needs to aggressively pay off its debt and get its bond rating back up. “As long as we’re borrowing less money than we’re paying off the debt is going to go down,” Imbroto said. He said the town is in the process of identifying which roads need work immediately, and funding for road repairs should increase “as soon as our town is back on the right financial track.” The town should continue to fight against a federal lawsuit that alleged a senior housing program was discriminatory against minorities because it gave preference to Oyster Bay residents, he said.

Michele Johnson - C, IN, R, TRP

Background
Johnson, 43, an attorney from Lattingtown, is running on the Republican, Conservative, Independence and Tax Revolt lines. She was appointed to the Town Board in 2013 and won election that year. She previously worked in private practice, served as a Nassau County deputy county attorney and administered the Job Training Partnership Act for the town. Johnson also is a licensed real estate broker. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and New York Law School. She is married and has three children.

Issues
Johnson said the main issues facing Oyster Bay are restoring public trust, reducing debt and completing a dredging study of Oyster Bay harbor. Johnson said the new ethics policies that were enacted in 2016, such as new financial disclosure forms and a new ethics code are important going forward. “I want to make sure that our residents feel comfortable with what we’re doing as a town board,” Johnson said. She said she’s not sure whether any additional measures are needed. “We need to see how these policies are working out,” Johnson said. The town needs to continue maintaining its roads but should do more work in-house, she said. “We need to continue to make sure we’re not borrowing for these capital projects,” Johnson said. “We’re working really hard to keep down our costs so we’re not going to outside consultants,” she said. After busting the tax cap in four of the past five years the town should be able to stay below it going forward, she said. A study needs to be done on the Oyster Bay harbor to protect the shell fishing industry, she said. “We need to find out exactly what that dredging is doing to the harbor,” she said.

Eva M. Pearson - D, IN, WF, WEP

Background
Pearson, 45, is running on the Democratic, Working Families, Women’s Equality and Independence party lines. She works as an academic. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology at Georgia State University in Atlanta and a master’s degree in psychology from Adelphi University. She is a doctoral student of education at the University of Buffalo online graduate school of education. She served in the U.S. Air Force for five years, working in logistics for services personnel. She is divorced with two children.

Issues
Pearson said the main issues in Oyster Bay are restoring ethics, increasing transparency and addressing its fiscal problems. She said elected positions should have eight-year term limits. “Part of the problem we witnessed in Oyster Bay is we had nearly 20 years of one-party rule, and that would make any government prone to corruption,” Pearson said. The indictments in recent years of former town officials and contractors demonstrates the need for a more open process when contracts are awarded, including publishing requests for proposals and bids received online so the public “can see who is getting these contracts and they can see who is bidding for these contracts,” Pearson said. “The overall goal is to make as much information as possible public.” She said any bidder for a town contract should disclose any campaign contributions. The town board members should be informed of all candidates being considered for a town position before being asked to vote on an individual, she said. The town needs to produce clear and understandable budgets with graphs and narratives and provide more information about its finances to the public, she said. “We need to get an independent auditor in there to give us some true numbers,” Pearson said, adding the audit would help them review spending by department and look for places to cut.

Michael Reich - P
 

Background
Reich is on the Progressive line but said he is no longer actively campaigning.

James W. Versocki - D, WF, WEP

Background
Versocki, 44, an attorney from Sea Cliff, is running on the Democratic, Working Families and Women’s Equality party lines. He is a labor and employment attorney at a private law firm. He earned an undergraduate degree from Lehigh University and a law degree from Emory University School of Law. He previously worked as a prosecutor at the New York State Attorney General’s Office under three attorneys general, handling fraud cases. He worked as a criminal defense attorney for almost two years before joining his current practice. He is married, with one son.

Issues
Versocki said the most important issues the town faces are its fiscal problems, environmental issues and development. “The new administration is going to have to really dig through the history of the town to make sure that when it resolves something, it’s resolved,” Versocki said. A new administration will need to work to make sure “the webs of corruption are sufficiently untied,” he said. The town needs to bring in an outside forensic auditor so the administration will “be able to present to the public and the state comptroller the true financial state of the town,” Versocki said. The town will be able to get its bond rating up — and borrow at lower interests rates again — when rating agencies see transparent budgeting and financial controls put in place, he said. The town needs to review its practices: “You have a culture of doing things over decades . . . there are people who may process permits and not realize that way is incorrect,” Versocki said. The town also needs to sit down with state and federal officials to come up with plans to address the Grumman plume and other environmental problems, he said. The town also needs a master plan for development, he said.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 20 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Spectrum Networks® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login or create an account to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."