If you had to guess Tuesday night in the party room at Gino’s Pizzeria, it would probably be the first time you saw Daniel Petruccio grin that widely since he first took his oath as mayor of the Village of New Hyde Park 12 years ago.
“I wish I could say I’m sad; I’m not sad,” he said, almost gleefully handing over the mayoral reins to his successor and former deputy mayor Robert Lofaro. “I’m very happy for him; so well-deserved.”
“I would have been happier if I were in his shoes than mine,” Lofaro retorted.
“He was hoping for a write-in but it didn’t happen,” Petruccio quipped, walking towards the glass doors shortly after 10 p.m.
“They had difficulty with the Petruccio name.”
“Yeah, they couldn’t spell my name, goodnight.”
Of course, the outcome had been almost assured for months, with the 2013 village election being uncontested in all of its races and Lofaro being the heir apparent to take over as the next person to sit in the center chair after Petruccio announced his retirement.
“I think everybody has a lot of faith in Bob,” Susan Fink said seven hours earlier after casting her vote at Marcus Christ Hall. “He does a great job as deputy mayor and I think he’s going to do a great job as mayor; I don’t think there’s any concerns in that respect. I think they like to listen to us, they’re part of the community, they live in the community so they’re looking to do things to benefit the community for themselves as well as their neighbors.”
There were a total of 154 votes cast in the election, with most voters coming to cast ballots after work. Lofaro garnered 134 votes while Barbieri had 131, Montreuil received 139 and village justice Chris Devane received 144 votes.
“All around the same, which is very encouraging,” Lofaro said of the numbers. “It’s typical to get this kind of 154. Most people unfortunately they believe you only need one vote and you’re done. As a candidate you’re fearful of a write-in campaign against the people on the ballot. You can only speculate why. We’re hoping that people are satisfied with the way things are and that’s why ‘keep doing what you’re doing.’ That’s what our hope is.”
In the 2011 election where two trustee seats – including Lofaro’s – were up, about 130 voters came out to the polls.
But for all the change at the top, the day-to-day operations of the village will more than anything remain the same, akin to a president handing over the reins to his running-mate.
“We’re probably not going to have a dramatic change in our personnel,” Lofaro said. “We’ll probably have a very similar (staff) because we’ve all been involved, this is the personnel that we’ve created so appointments will probably be very similar to what we have. I don’t see a lot of change.”
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
The only real pressing question will be who will occupy the now-empty chair on the village board, filling part of the remainder of the term that Lofaro left in order to assume the top post.
The new mayor-elect says that he has “a couple of names” but will officially begin the process of considering individuals on Wednesday. There is a list of three individuals that have expressed an interest to serve as trustee.
“I wish it was five, I wish it was 10,” Lofaro said. “We’ll see what their thoughts are. Quite honestly I wish there was a woman that put their name up to sit on the board but they’re all competent individuals.”
The mayor has the ability to appoint a new trustee and does not require board approval. However, while it was thought that the appointment was enough to fill the remainder of Lofaro’s two-year term, the New York Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) believes the appointment can only be for a one year term.
“We’re still trying to figure that out,” Lofaro said. “That’s NYCOM’s opinion based on their covering the villages.”
That person would then potentially have to run again in March 2014 for another one-year term to fill the last year of Lofaro’s trustee term, then again in March 2015 for a full four-year term, if they so choose.
“If we do have an election next March, there’d be only one person on the ballot – that appointee or anyone else who chooses to run.”Candidate Votes Mayor Robert Lofaro 134 Trustee Lawrence Montreuil 139 Donald Barbieri 131 Justice Christopher Devane 144