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Ron LaVita

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

A contentious campaign has led to change in the Village of Old Field.

Attorney Ted Rosenberg won a run-off election against incumbent Ron LaVita for village justice April 3. Rosenberg defeated LaVita 189 to 146, according to village court clerk Marianne Feller. Out of the 335 votes, 65 were absentee ballots — 39 for Rosenberg and 26 for LaVita.

LaVita has held the unpaid position for 20 years, and in previous elections ran unchallenged. The run-off was held after the two candidates tied 114 each in the March 20 general election.

Rosenberg said he’s glad the campaign is over and is looking forward to serving the village for the next four years.

“[Residents] can expect me to impartially adjudicate cases and treat everyone fairly, treat everyone the same,” Rosenberg said.

Despite their differences during the campaign, he said he respects LaVita.

“My opponent campaigned very hard, very tenaciously, and I admire that,” he said.

LaVita said he was disappointed with the results.

“I am also disappointed in, and do not think I deserve, what in my opinion were the scurrilous attacks and rhetoric made against me,” LaVita said. “This is not Washington politics, and the ends do not always justify the means.”

During the campaign for village justice, allegations were hurled by both candidates. Rosenberg alleged during his campaign that LaVita did not have a certificate of occupancy for his home since making renovations 15 years ago. In spring 2017, LaVita said he paid the requested permit fees in anticipation of obtaining a CO. In July of that year, he was granted an extension, which expires in July 2018.

Among allegations made by LaVita, he said Rosenberg, who served as village associate justice, represented an accident client who sued the Village of Old Field and the constable. Rosenberg confirmed he represented a client against Old Field and said he checked with the mayor first, who said there was no conflict of interest created for taking on the case.

Despite the loss, LaVita said he’s grateful for the time he served as village justice.

“I want to thank all my friends and supporters in the village for allowing me to proudly serve them for the past 20 years and for supporting me throughout a very hard-fought election,” LaVita said.

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

A race 20 years in the making has created some bad blood.

The Old Field village justice election between incumbent Ron LaVita, who has run unopposed for two decades, and attorney Ted Rosenberg, ended in a 114-all tie March 20 after all the votes, including absentee ballots, were counted. A recount confirmed the vote totals and a run-off election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3.

Rosenberg, the village’s current associate justice and a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, said he was surprised when he heard the news. LaVita, a general practice attorney, said he was disappointed when he heard the results.

“I thought I would have a commanding lead,” he said, adding he should have notified residents who were unable to vote March 20 to submit absentee ballots while he was campaigning, feeling that would have helped him take the election.

Things became heated between the two candidates before the March 20 election for the unpaid position when Rosenberg alleged during his campaign that LaVita did not have a certificate of occupancy for his home since making renovations 15 years ago. After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request with the village, it was confirmed by The Village Times Herald there is no current CO on record.

In a letter he handed out to residents, LaVita addressed the allegations saying he was ignorant in dealing with a “gypsy” contractor who he said did not complete the renovation and failed to file the proper paperwork. In spring 2017, LaVita said he paid the requested permit fees in anticipation of obtaining a CO. In July of that year, he was granted an extension, which expires in July of this year.

In the letter to residents and an ad, LaVita said despite doing his best to follow the canons of judicial ethics, he felt he needed to address allegations and provide further information about his opponent. He alleged Rosenberg represented an accident client who sued the Village of Old Field and the constable, and hosted a campaign fundraiser, which violates judicial ethics; and that the village treasurer works for Rosenberg’s law office.

Rosenberg confirmed he represented a client against Old Field and said he checked with the mayor first, who said there was no conflict of interest created for taking on the case. As for the alleged fundraiser, the attorney said it was a meet and greet his wife arranged, and there was no admission charged.

Rosenberg said he looks forward to a run-off election, and added he had hoped this time around there would be a meet the candidates night or debate so Old Field residents could learn more about the candidates. At press time, there was no debate scheduled, but Old Field residents can meet Rosenberg at The Setauket Neighborhood House at 95 Main Street April 2 at 7 p.m. to learn more about him. LaVita has not scheduled any sort of debate or meetings.

“I think it’s an opportunity for the voters of the village to gain more knowledge about the candidates and our qualifications,” Rosenberg said in regard to a debate. “Particularly for me, because I’m not the incumbent.”

During the March 20 election, Michael Levine, who has been mayor of Old Field since 2008, ran unopposed and maintains his seat. Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro are the village’s new trustees. Feller and Pirro ran for two seats on the village board after Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb decided not to run for re-election.

The village justice run-off election will be held April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

After a tie between Old Field Village justice votes was confirmed, a run-off election has been scheduled.

Twenty-year incumbent Ron LaVita and attorney Ted Rosenberg each received 114 votes once all ballots, including absentee votes, were counted March 20. A recount confirmed the numbers March 22.

A run-off election will be held Tuesday April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage, located at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted, and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3, according to Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel.

To read more about other results from the election, and reactions from the village justice candidates: Old Field justice race ends in tie.

Run-off election will be held April 3

Attorney Ted Rosenberg defeated incumbent Ron LaVita for the village justice seat in Old Field. Photo from candidates

A race 20 years in the making ended in a tie March 20.

The Old Field village justice election between incumbent Ron LaVita, who has run unopposed for 20 years, and attorney Ted Rosenberg, ended in a 114-all tie after all the votes, including absentee ballots, were counted. A run-off election will be held Tuesday April 3 at the Keeper’s Cottage, located at 207 Old Field Road. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Absentee ballots will be re-accepted, and must be in to Village Hall no later than 9 p.m. April 3, according to Village Clerk Adrienne Kessel.

Both candidates received the news of the tie the night of March 20. A recount confirmed the vote totals.

Rosenberg, the village’s current associate justice and a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, said he was surprised when he heard the news.

He looks forward to a run-off election, and said after the results were in that he hopes this time around there will be a meet the candidates night and/or debate so Old Field residents can learn more about each of the candidates.

“If there’s another election, I think it’s an opportunity for the voters of the village to gain more knowledge about the candidates and our qualifications,” he said. “Particularly for me, because I’m not the incumbent.”

LaVita, a general practice attorney, said he was disappointed when he heard the results.

“I thought I would have a commanding lead,” he said, adding he should have notified residents who were unable to vote March 20 to submit absentee ballots while he was campaigning, feeling that would have helped him take the election.

LaVita said he is also open to a meet the candidates night and/or debate.

During the election, Michael Levine, who has been mayor of Old Field since 2008, ran unopposed and maintains his seat. Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro are the village’s new trustees. Feller and Pirro ran for two seats after Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb decided not to run for re-election.

This version was updated to include that the vote totals were confirmed and a run-off election is scheduled.

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Sitting mayor and two new trustee candidates will run unopposed in their races during March 20 Old Field election

One of the concerns Old Field Mayor Michael Levine and two trustees will face in the near future is whether or not to install a cellphone pole in Kaltenborn Commons. Photo by Rita J. Egan

By Rita J. Egan

It’s been 20 years since Old Field Village Justice Ron LaVita has been challenged in an election, but when residents vote March 20 they will see two names on the ballot.

Attorney Ted Rosenberg, who has served in various positions in the village and is currently associate justice, decided to throw his hat in the ring. Recently LaVita and Rosenberg answered questions about their backgrounds, and why they feel they would be the best choice for Old Field village justice.

Ron LaVita, village justice

Ron LaVita

LaVita, an Old Field resident since 1995, has lived in the Three Village area for nearly 50 years. For 27 years, he has been a general practice attorney working from his Setauket law office and, 18 years ago, he opened an additional office in Rocky Point.

“I have 34 years’ experience handling client cases similar to the ones I have presided over for the last 20 years,” LaVita said. “I am also a former Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association attorney. My opponent is an accident lawyer.”

LaVita became associate justice in Old Field in 1997. Soon after, he became acting village justice when William Johnson moved from Old Field and was unable to complete his term. LaVita said he has been unopposed in elections, except for his first run for office in 1998.

The attorney said he has presided over hundreds of village court cases through the years and has a perfect attendance record, which means no associate judge has had to serve on a village case. He said he prides himself on being independent from the village board and has concerns that Rosenberg, a former trustee, may be influenced by the board.

“I have done a good, dedicated and faithful job for the residents of Old Field for over 20 years and therefore there is no reason for a change,” LaVita said.

In addition to serving as village justice, the attorney said he has helped improve the village. During his early days as justice, he helped to obtain a state grant which enabled the village to update the court clerk’s office including its technology.

Ted Rosenberg, justice candidate

Ted Rosenberg

Rosenberg is a 20-year resident of Old Field and has been an attorney for 35 years. He is currently a partner with Rosenberg & Gluck LLP, located in Holtsville. He is a member of the Suffolk County Bar Association select bench/bar committee, a frequent lecturer to the bar on trial practices, and a mentor to the Ward Melville High School mock trial team

“I have 35 years of courtroom experience — most lawyers don’t spend any time in the courtroom — and I spent a better part of my career as a trial attorney trying cases,” Rosenberg said. “I very much enjoy being in the courtroom, and I have a lot of experience doing that.”

Through the years, in addition to currently being associate justice, Rosenberg said he has served as a trustee, deputy mayor, commissioner of roads and harbor commissioner for Old Field. He said while he has worked well with both past and current board members, he would not be influenced by the mayor or board members. He said he has received the highest rating from his fellow lawyers for both ethics and professionalism in the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, which rates lawyers on their legal ability and ethical standards.

Rosenberg said running for justice is something he has thought about for a few years.

“The current justice has been in office for 20 years, and I think that I could bring some new fresh thinking to the table,” Rosenberg said.

Meet the mayor, trustee candidates

Current Old Field Mayor Michael Levine is running unopposed in the March 20 village election. With two seats open, two trustee candidates, Bruce Feller and Tom Pirro, are also running unopposed as current trustees Timothy Hopkins and Robert Whitcomb  decided not to run for re-election.

Michael Levine, mayor

Michael Levine

Levine moved to Old Field in 1992 and became mayor in 2008. The attorney, a partner with Rappaport, Glass, Levine & Zullo LLP, said he has a couple of goals in mind for his next term.

“One of my major goals if re-elected will be to restore the Old Field Lighthouse/Village Hall to its original beauty, both inside and outside,” he said. “I would also like to continue to work on grants to address stormwater runoff issues in the village. Where the funds will come from for these projects is always a major issue.”

Recently, the village board has been facing the debate over whether or not to install a cellphone pole in Kaltenborn Commons, a small park located at the intersection of Old Field Road and Quaker Path and surrounded by homes. At the January and February public meetings both residents and nonresidents filled village hall, some to voice concerns and others to show their support of the pole. Levine said the meetings have been helpful to him and board members. The vote on the tower has been postponed until the two new trustees take office.

“There are always difficult issues that must be dealt with and the way to deal with them is to listen to the residents and do what you feel is best for the village, while at the same time trying to accommodate the residents,” Levine said. “It’s a balancing act. I try to constantly strive to be fair and attentive.”

Tom Pirro, trustee candidate

Tom Pirro

Pirro recently moved from Bayport to Old Field with his fiancé, Shannon McCann. The certified public accountant, who has had his own business for 30 years, said he has been traveling to the Three Village community as a member of St. George’s Golf and Country Club since 2003. In June 2017, he opened a new office in Setauket. The candidate said he feels his work experience and love for the village will be an asset as trustee.

“I have spent my entire life in the business sector, and I feel those experiences will help me in carrying out my duties as a trustee,” Pirro said. “I chose to live in Old Field because of its natural beauty, and I would like to be a part of its continued preservation.”

When it comes to the issue of the cellphone pole in the village, Pirro said he is open to discussing the debate as long as needed to come to a decision. He said a lot of good questions were raised at the public meetings, including the aesthetics of the pole, which many feel may affect real estate values.

“I think it’s going to be difficult because no matter where it goes it’s going to impact someone,” Pirro said.

With a deep appreciation for his new village, he is on board with helping the mayor work to renovate the lighthouse.

“It’s part of the local heritage, so obviously it’s something you would want to address and maintain,” Pirro said. “It’s not something you want to go into disrepair, and I don’t think Old Field is a village that would let that happen.”

Bruce Feller, trustee candidate

Bruce Feller

A resident of Old Field since 1988, Feller retired as vice president from MetLife in 1998. Shortly after his retirement, he served as a village trustee after taking over the expired term of Barbara Swartz when she became mayor. During his first time as trustee, he said he established the village’s entitlement and access to funding from New York State’s Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program. This gave Old Field a revenue stream to improve and maintain the village’s roadways.

He and his wife, Marianne, in the past have served on a village committee to preserve the Old Field lighthouse. He currently is the vice chair of the village planning board.

Feller said when it comes to the cellphone tower, he is undecided. At press time, he was hoping to attend the March board meeting, and said he is open to hearing everyone’s opinions. He said he has heard persuasive issues on both sides at the village’s January meeting.

“There’s a lot to take into account, and I’m hoping that there is additional information that will nudge me decidedly in a direction that I can personally live with and live with as a representative of the constituents in the village,” Feller said.

He said when he was previously a trustee, a bone of contention was subdivision of properties. The candidate said listening to both sides was important, and believes his listening skills have developed even more over time. Remembering when the residents debated over deer hunting in the village and the mayor held multiple public hearings to come to a decision, he said it’s a skill he believes Levine also has.

“I give the mayor a lot of credit, he pays a lot of attention to what people think,” Feller said.

The Old Field Village elections will be held March 20, from noon until 9 p.m. at the
Keeper’s Cottage located at 207 Old Field Road.