Forty-four days after voters cast their ballots in the election for two trustees in the Village of Manorhaven, trustees Rita DiLucia and James Avena have both been officially sworn into office. The close election held on June 16 was contested in New York State Supreme Court and then appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department. As the Port Washington News reported on June 17, the initial election results were 438 votes for Rita DiLucia, 415 votes for James Avena, 412 votes for Lucretia Steele and 411 votes for John Popeleski, with three additional paper ballots in dispute. Officials from the Nassau County Board of Elections counted the disputed ballots, and candidate Lucretia Steele filed an appeal. While the appeal was pending, Manorhaven officials suspended all village meetings. Although DiLucia was sworn into office on July 1, Avena was not sworn in until July 30 due to the pending appeal, according to Manorhaven Village Clerk Leslie Gross.
Steele, who had been the village’s deputy mayor, withdrew her appeal on July 29. In a letter sent to the Port Washington News, Steele wrote, “After a trustee election with a few votes being the deciding factor between us, I had to make the difficult decision whether to continue to leave our village in turmoil or to allow it to move forward past the petty politicking and focus on the issues of governance. And so it is with a heavy heart that I take a step back from village matters at this time and end the injurious effects caused by the appeals process for our village,” Avena said,
“I will do my best to solve the problems and improve the quality of life for the [Manorhaven] residents.”
A meeting of the new board of trustees has been scheduled for August 12. A deputy mayor has not yet been chosen, according to Gross, and “will be chosen by the mayor.” Village attorney James Toner did not respond to phone or email messages from the Port Washington News.