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Trustee

Joe Sabia file photo

Joe Sabia will be waiting for results on a stressful election eve for the third time in his 39 years as a resident of Northport Village on Mar. 15.

Sabia, a former member of the Northport-East Northport school board and a mayoral candidate in the 2014 Northport election, is running for trustee on the village board this time around.

“I’ve been here since 1977,” the 60-year-old Sabia said in a phone interview. “I’m not a newcomer.”

Sabia will face incumbents Jerry Maline and Damon McMullen in the 2016 election. He said that his experiences running for school board and mayor have prepared him.

“I realized people have to get out and vote,” Sabia said, adding that he knocked on about 1,400 doors when he was running for mayor in 2014 against incumbent George Doll. But that wasn’t enough to unseat the incumbent mayor.

Sabia said that he was not happy about the village’s proposed budget that was released in January, which included more than a 3 percent increase to the tax levy. Lowering taxes was one of several issues that Sabia said is important to his campaign and eventual term, if he is elected.

“You’re pushing people to the limit,” Sabia said about taxpayers in the village.

He also mentioned fixing sidewalks and roads in the village, changing the way that snow removal is handled, improving village parks, addressing environmental concerns associated with storm water runoff and upgrading street lights to be more efficient as some of the issues that are important to him and in need of the village’s attention.

“I have fresh ideas,” Sabia said. He said he is also interested in “revamping” village hall, though he said he would prefer to fund a project like that through donations, not tax dollars.

Asharoken Village found success with resident donations financing parts of the cost for the new village hall, which opened in January 2015.

Sabia has a history of wanting to keep costs low.

He went after his former school board colleagues at a board of education meeting on July 1, 2015, after they approved the appointment of Lou Curra as the district’s interim assistant superintendent for human resources, a position that paid Curra $935 per day during his six months in the position. He said he believed Curra was being overpaid.

Sabia owns Sabia’s Car Care, an automotive repair shop located on Fort Salonga Road in Northport. Nonetheless, he said he’s confident that he would have more than enough time to effectively serve the village as a trustee.

Sabia’s daughters, ages 25 and 29, were products of the Northport-East Northport school district, and his late wife Valerie served as the village court clerk until she passed away about four years ago, he said.

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Mount Sinai school board Trustees Robert Sweeney, left, and Peter Van Middelem, right, are sworn in as board president and vice president, respectively. Photo by Erika Karp

The Mount Sinai school board has a new vice president this year.

At the district’s annual reorganization meeting on July 1, Peter Van Middelem, who just finished his first year on the board, was elected to the position in a 4-1 vote. Van Middelem, a retired New York City firefighter, succeeds former Vice President Donna Compagnone, whose term was up this year and decided not to seek re-election.

Van Middelem said his main objectives for the new year include keeping positive communications and relations with the community and the district’s teachers, seeing how new programs, such as Columbia University’s Teachers College Writing Project, which provides writing curriculum and professional development for teachers, is implemented, and keeping taps on the new full-day kindergarten program.

“I know that our emphasis right now is to make sure kindergarten is running and up to speed,” he said in a phone interview.

Van Middelem commended his predecessor for all of her work and stated that he had big shoes to fill as vice president.

Trustee Lynn Capobianco, who was re-elected to her second three-year term in May, cast the lone dissenting vote at the meeting. She said she couldn’t support Van Middelem as he allegedly did some political campaigning in his role as president of the Mount Sinai Lacrosse program. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 501(c)(3) organizations are “prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

Lynn Capobianco takes her oath of office. Photo by Erika Karp
Lynn Capobianco takes her oath of office. Photo by Erika Karp

Capobianco said that in doing so Van Middelem jeopardized the tax-exempt status of the organization. According to an IRS database, Mt. Sinai Lacrosse Inc’s status had been automatically revoked in February 2013 for failing to file a return for three consecutive years. Van Middelem declined to comment on Capobianco’s concerns.

“I respect him greatly for the work he has done for that organization, but based on those issues I think the leadership comes into question,” Capobianco said.

While the board saw a change in its vice president, Robert Sweeney, who was elected to his second three-year term in 2014, is staying put as president. Board newcomer Mike Riggio was unable to make the first meeting and was sworn into his position at an earlier time.

Sweeney thanked the board for its vote and seemed to set the tone for the 2015-16 school year. He pointed out how the trustees were all wearing pins that read, “Respect public education.”

“This is an important statement that we are making about our teachers. … We respect them,” he said.

Sweeney continued to speak about the importance and need for public education.

“I wouldn’t be here and in my career without it,” he said.

The Incorporated Village of Poquott. File photo

The Incorporated Village of Poquott voted in three new trustees and a write-in village justice candidate in Tuesday’s election, the village clerk confirmed Thursday.

In the trustee race for two seats carrying two-year terms, Harold Berry and Jeffrey Koppelson were elected with 105 votes and 131 votes, respectively, beating out Gary Garofano, the third candidate vying for one of the spots.

Another trustee position, but carrying a one-year term, went to Sandra Nicoletti, who received 113 votes over Karen Sartain, who garnered 69 votes, the village clerk said Thursday.

Poquott also elected a new village justice on Tuesday with a write-in candidate, the clerk said. The village did not have any names on the ballot for the position, so the spot went to Paul Edelson, who received 96 votes, over Alexander Melbartis — another write-in — who received 87 votes.