By PHIL NOBILE
and JASON CHIREVAS
Touting its candidates’ broad base of in-depth experience, the village Republican Party has selected its picks for two of the three seats on the Board of Trustees up for grabs this election season, but two other, higher-profile candidates were also considered.
Michael Ianniello, a Republican and current chairman of the village’s Planning Board, and registered Democrat Stefanie Lividini, a member of the volunteer Budget Committee, are set to challenge two of the three Democratic trustee candidates come November.
A third Republican candidate was slated to be added to the ticket at a party meeting on June 11, after press time.
Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, is happy with the candidates the party has so far.
“I think they represent what I’ve always said are the best potential candidates,” Rosenblum said. “Independent thinkers who will make any decision, no matter the subject, best for the village.”
Although the mayor is pleased with the ticket as it stands now, two other potential candidates were given significant consideration.
Village business owner and real estate developer John Verni, who mounted a strong challenge to Democrat Catherine Parker in the 2013 race for an open seat on the Westchester County Board of
Legislators, was approached by village Republicans about the possibility of running for a spot on the Board of Trustees.
“I would have loved to have [Verni] run,” Rosenblum said. “He would have been perfect.”
Rosenblum said Verni’s business and volunteer interests, including those with LMC-TV, preventing him from being able to dedicate the time needed for a run at the dais.
The mayor also reached out to incumbent Democratic Trustee Andres Bermudez Hallstrom, who was left off his party’s 2014 slate, about the possibility of running on the Republican ticket. Rosenblum said, though he often disagrees with Bermudez Hallstrom, the 30-year-old trustee always acts with what he sees as the best interests of the village in mind.
According to the mayor, Bermudez Hallstrom declined, saying he remains a committed Democrat.
Bermudez Hallstrom will primary the three Democratic nominees for a spot on the Democratic slate on Sept. 9.
According to Rosenblum and Deputy Mayor Louis Santoro, the Republican trustee candidates were chosen by an interview committee led by village Republican chairwoman Maryanne Genevose.
Calls to Genevose regarding the interview process were not returned as of press time.
Ianniello, a 59-year-old village resident for more than 20 years who is finishing his fifth year as Planning Board chairman, said he initially didn’t want to remain involved in village affairs any longer, but, as his term comes to a close, he found he wanted to continue to help the village in any way he could. He said his experience on the Planning Board has prepared him to work across party lines.
“With the Planning Board, we have a very diverse group, and sometimes we get into heated discussion, but we respect opinions,” he said. “I want to do what’s best for the village.”
Ianniello has faced some controversy in his capacity as Planning Board chairman.
Former village residents David and Kinuyo Witt sued the village in December 2012 after the process of obtaining and maintaining a building permit to repair their First Street home in the wake of Hurricane Sandy forced them to leave the village. The Witts worked with the Planning Board to try to lift a stop work order issued by former village Building Inspector Rob Melillo, but the conditions of the eventual flood variance the board issued proved too onerous for the Witts to negotiate and, without sufficient funds to cover repair and rental expenses, the bank foreclosed on their house.
Ianniello described the Witts’ situation as an “unfortunate incident.”
“I thought the [Planning Board] did its best to get that stop work order lifted,” he said.
Looking to the future, Ianniello, an architect and vice president of Urban Development Partners, a Manhattan-based real estate development company, cited flooding issues as the primary problem with the village currently.
Twenty-eight-year-old Lividini, who has lived in the village for the past seven years, is a consultant for the Gartland & Mellina Group, a New York City management consulting firm. She served on the village Traffic Commission for three years before joining the Budget Committee.
“Being on the commissions that I’ve been on, I know the village has been working with the Army Corps [of Engineers] and I intend on getting involved in the process and making sure whatever choices are made are the best for the village and really take advantage of the help we’re going to get,” she said.
Ianiello and Lividini referred to the near decade-long process led by the Army Corps to help alleviate the issue of flooding throughout the village. Potential Army Corps flood mitigation plans call for erecting levees and floodwalls among other measures.
Village Democrats announced their trustee slate on May 20.
Incumbents Leon Potok, 63, and Ilissa Miller, 42, along with 71-year old Dave Finch, a political newcomer, 30-year village resident and veteran of the international banking industry, comprise the Democratic ticket.
Trustees are elected at-large to two-year terms with an annual salary of $4,950 and health benefits.
Election Day is Nov. 4.