Greenlawn -- Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol used the occasion of the annual League of Women Voters Meet the Candidates debate October 22 to set the record straight on where she stands on issues and to highlight the clear differences between herself and her Republican opponent.
Among the starkest distinctions were in the areas of the proposed 2019 Town budget and the need for diversity on the Town Board. Councilwoman Cergol noted that she opposes the administration’s submitted budget because it increases taxes and raises fees, including a general property tax hike, a proposed 50 percent hike in rates in the Dix Hills Water District and the imposition of mooring fees for Town residents who own boats. In contrast, Republican James Leonick said he had been too busy campaigning to look at the budget.
Councilwoman Cergol noted that women represent 51 percent of the population and that she is the only woman on the five-member board. If she were unsuccessful in her election bid, the Town Board would be all male. Leonick said he “did not see an issue” with a Town Board that’s composition did not attempt to represent any of the Town’s many diverse components – gender, race and ethnic background.
Councilwoman Cergol also cited her experience in both the private sector and Town government and how she had obtained $20 million in grants for community revitalization, much of that for Huntington Station. She spoke of the need to create additional business opportunities and affordable housing for the area, in fulfilling the desires community members expressed in meetings over the past decade. Leonick suggested what the community really wanted for revitalization was brighter street lights on New York Avenue.
In response to questions from the audience, Councilwoman Cergol noted that she is committed to protecting Huntington’s history and historic structures and cited her vote against a proposed development at the historic Platt’s Tavern site on Main Street and Park Avenue in Huntington Village.
Asked about her vision for Huntington Village 10 years from now, she spoke of reacting to the changing retail environment and the possibility of turning parking lots into green spaces if car use declines, as some have forecast. A key to Huntington’s future, she noted, is creating jobs and affordable housing.
When asked about the LIPA tax certiorari suit, Councilwoman Cergol spoke of the need to be unified in its opposition and to continue working with the Northport-East Northport School District in seeking a resolution. “It needs NOT to be a political issue,” she said. Leonick’s main point was that he needed to “educate people in the Town” about the existence of the suit and its ramifications.
But perhaps the greatest difference came in response to a question about independence. Leonick noted that he was part of the Republican team. As Councilwoman Cergol noted, “I don’t wear my political affiliation on my sleeve. I am an independent, not part of a team. Being part of a team suggests a rubber stamp. I refuse to deal in absolutes. I evaluate every matter and make decisions based on their merits, not on a political view or party-line vote.”
Councilwoman Cergol, who was named to the seat in December after spending 17 years in government and 18 in the private sector, is running on the Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines
Today, Friends of Joan Cergol was honored to receive a letter showing support from key Huntington Republican thought leaders, underscoring their recognition of Councilwoman Cergol’s status as a unifier and consensus builder on the Town Board.
In the letter, former Republican Councilman Ken Christensen detailed the reasons he is backing Cergol in the upcoming election and listed other distinguished leaders joining him on a Republicans for Cergol committee.
“I deeply appreciate their support, which affirms how in my time on the board I have reached out to people at all ends of the political spectrum to identify issues and work on solutions that cross party lines,” said Councilwoman Cergol, who is running on the Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality lines.
This is the text of Mr. Christensen’s letter:
“I have made a personal decision to support Joan Cergol for Town of Huntington Councilwoman in this November’s election and have volunteered to urge others to do the same. As a former Town Councilman, I feel so strongly about her candidacy that I have agreed to Chair a Republicans for Joan Cergol Committee.
“As a life-long Republican, one who whole heartedly believes in Republican principles, I don’t easily stray from the candidates that my party endorses. But I have always believed that the person is more important than the party, especially on the Town and local level, where government is closest to the people.
“It is not often that someone comes along to run for local public office who is this experienced, has the right temperament and attitude, is dedicated to the common good, and has the sole commitment to do what is right for our Town despite party affiliation or outside pressures.
“I have worked with Joan for over ten years in various Town committees and not-for-profit organizations throughout our community. Her work ethic is exceptional, her communication skills excellent and she really knows how to focus in on what is important. Having worked within Town government for all these years dealing with the needs and desires of the many organizations and constituencies, she has shown her ability to reach out to all, to listen and to solve problems.
“Joan is a very good person, and to have someone with her grace and intellect representing the people of Huntington on our Town Board will be a major benefit to all of us. Together with our Republicans for Joan Cergol Committee, I urge all voters to support Joan in the coming election. She’ll be there for all of us!”
Listed as members of Republicans for Joan Cergol were: Ken Christensen, Chair; Dana Beard; John Deignan; Kevin Gersh; Jim McGoldrick; James Martin; Joe Ryan; Carol Stolze; Paul Tonna; Paul Warburgh; and Roger Weaving.
Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol today thanked Working Families party voters for their resounding support in giving her a landslide victory in the September 13 primary, beating back a write-in campaign waged by her Republican opponent.
“I am grateful that Working Families party voters saw through the brazen effort on the part of my Republican opponent to steal the November ballot line I rightfully earned after undergoing a rigorous screening process. This election is a victory not just for me, but also for hard-working residents who want to ensure that they have a clear voice representing their interests in Town government,” Councilwoman Cergol said.
Councilwoman Cergol has a track record of working to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of working families in Huntington. She has expanded affordable home ownership, provided job training for local residents, revitalized downtown areas by bringing in over $20 million in grants and supported local businesses.
Cergol ran a door-to-door campaign reaching many Working Families Party voters, which was reflected in the high turnout in her behalf in the primary. She will now turn her attention to the general election, where in addition to the Working Families Party line, Cergol will be running on the Democratic, Independence and Women’s Equality lines.
“My message in the general election will be the same as in the primary: that Huntington residents deserve an independent thinker on the Town board who will listen before making decisions, represent varied interests and then work together with colleagues at all levels to create and support programs that meet those interests. I think the deeper voters look, the more they will see they have a clear choice between someone who is on their side and willing to take the lead in representing their interests, as opposed to someone whose main campaign plank is that he will go along with the majority. We need someone who will lead, not follow. Over the years and now, I have shown that I am that person.”
As the only Huntington Town Board candidate endorsed by the Working Families Party (WFP) in the November 6th election, Councilwoman Joan Cergol is appealing to Huntington Working Families voters for their support in the WFP Primary on Thursday, September 13th.
The Republican candidate in this race, whose political ideologies could not be any further from the values of our hardworking Huntington Working Families voters, is mounting a write-in campaign to underhandedly steal the ballot line from Joan.
Joan rightfully earned the endorsement from the Working Families Party!
Throughout Joan's 16-year career in public service, she has worked to improve the quality of life and economic well-being of our working families in Huntington by:
Expanding affordable housing and home ownership. Under Joan's leadership, the Town created 550 new units of affordable housing. She helped provide low-interest financing to homeowners for needed home improvements and emergency home repairs.
Providing job training for local residents. Joan partnered St. Joseph's College to provide free resident job training programs for unemployed and underemployed residents and also with the Long Island Federation of Labor to prepare and place residents in pre-apprenticeship training programs. Joan received the endorsement of the Long Island Federation of Labor in this race, as well as the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
Revitalizing downtown areas and supporting local businesses. Joan managed many of the Town’s capital improvement projects, including the revitalization of Huntington Station, and secured over $20 million in grants for the Town. When the Town negotiated a Master Development Agreement with Renaissance Downtowns, Joan made sure that the agreement included a commitment to use union labor.
As a Councilwoman, Joan has continued to advocate for working families in our community. You may have seen her out and about—visiting our seniors, veterans and youth in Huntington, partnering with local non-profits on food drives, helping establish children’s educational programs in community gardens and holding cleanups at area beaches.
On the legislative front, Joan advocates for smart development that meets the social, environmental and economic needs in our Town. She's fighting for environmental measures to protect our open spaces, drinking water and our waterfront. She's sponsored legislation to help ensure housing safety by holding landlords accountable for code violations, and introduced the resolution to live-stream Town meetings in an effort to make Town Hall more accessible and accountable.
Joan has worked on behalf of senior citizens in our community, as well as our youth. For our seniors, Joan secured funding for adult day care and nutrition services and worked to provide the Residential Repair Program to elderly homeowners. She sponsored legislation to provide at-risk youth with intensive case management services to prevent their becoming involved in gangs and gang violence.
Working Families Party voter support in the WFP Primary on Thursday, September 13th will be critical in ensuring that Huntington keeps a progressive champion on the Huntington Town Board who will fight for them.
"Do not be fooled by political gamesmanship. Our Working Families voters deserve better. I will be honored to continue my good work as recognized by the Working Families Party and look forward to the support of Huntington Working Families Party voters on September 13th." Councilwoman Cergol stated.
Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol is urging voters not to be fooled by the “Stop LIPA” party line that her opponent is attempting to force onto the ballot for the November 6 election.
“People who signed the STOP LIPA petitions thought they were signing a petition to stop LIPA and National Grid from reassessing the property, not support one or more individual candidates for public office,” Cergol said.
“Since LIPA first challenged the tax assessment on its Northport power plant in 2010, Huntington town board members, both Democrats and Republicans, have spearheaded the fight against this assault on our Town and Northport-East Northport School District tax base,” said Cergol.
Cergol is calling out her opponent’s attempt to get a bogus party line on the ballot as nothing more than “trickery to deceive a vulnerable public and divide residents between party lines.”
“Unlike my opponent I have a record of standing with the Northport East Northport School District in a United front against LIPA and National Grid,” Councilwoman Cergol said.
“We all understand this LIPA tax challenge could prove devastating to Huntington homeowners,” Cergol said. “This is not the time for self-promotion; this is a time to stand united regardless of political party.
“Elected officials, from both the town and the state legislature, must raise our voices as one to remove this albatross hanging over the heads of taxpayers,” Cergol added.
“Creating a phony party line makes working together more difficult and seeks merely to capitalize on people’s fears for political gain. It is just wrong.”
Organized labor has enthusiastically thrown its support behind Councilwoman Joan Cergol’s effort to remain on the Huntington Town Board.
Cergol recently won the endorsement of both the Long Island Federation of Labor, representing 250,000 union members on Long Island, and the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, representing 38 affiliated local unions.
“Our support for your campaign is based on your record and your commitment to working families,” the Long Island Federation noted in its endorsement letter, signed by President John R. Durso and Executive Director Roger Clayman. “We are confident that you share with us a common vision about the future of Long Island…We look forward to working with you to build opportunities for the next generation, to live and work here on Long Island in safe, strong and prosperous communities.”
Building Trades Council President Matthew P. Aracich wrote in his group’s endorsement letter, “The entire Council praises your genuine experience throughout your tenure as a community leader and member of the Huntington Town Board…Your work ethic and advocacy on behalf of hard working middle class families is second to none…From the very moment of approaching the council you brought a message that contains enthusiasm and optimism. I am sure we can make Long Island a more affordable, rewarding and safe place to live and raise a family.”
“I am honored and humbled to have received these endorsements from two of Long Island’s major labor organizations,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “The endorsements affirm my hard work over the years to help working families and our middle class and recognize my commitment to continuing these efforts in the future. I eagerly look forward to working with the Long Island Federation of Labor and the Building Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties on initiatives to make Long Island an affordable and even more attractive place to live.”
Councilwoman Cergol, who has the endorsement of the Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Women’s Equality Parties, has a public service record that includes expanding affordable housing and home ownership, providing job training for local residents, revitalizing downtown areas and supporting local businesses.
Under her leadership, the Town created 550 new units of affordable housing and provided low-interest financing to homeowners for needed home improvements and emergency home repairs. Councilwoman Cergol partnered with the Long Island Federation of Labor to prepare and place residents in pre-apprenticeship training programs. She also managed many of the Town’s capital improvement projects, including the revitalization of Huntington Station, and secured over $20 million in grants for the Town. When the Town negotiated a Master Development Agreement with Renaissance Downtowns, she made sure that the agreement included a commitment to use union labor.
Is Cergol an Italian name?
To the surprise of many, it is (originating in Northern Italy) and with DeVito as her maiden name, Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol has Italian heritage to spare.
So it is with pride that Friends of Joan Cergol announces the endorsement of Cergol’s candidacy for Huntington town board by the executive board of the Italian American Political Action Committee of New York (I AM PAC).
“We believe that you are the kind of individual who embodies the type of leadership our organization supports. Your appreciation of your own heritage, as well as other cultures, demonstrates your ability to respect traditions while moving forward with a vision for the future,” wrote chairman James C. Lisi.
I AM PAC is a non-partisan political action committee, registered and operating in New York, whose founders, officers and members, representing a broad spectrum of political philosophies, engage in the political arena to make institutions, elected officials and candidates for public office respond with deeds to the interests and well-being of the Italian American community.
“I am humbled by the endorsement,” said Councilwoman Cergol.
“My grandfather was a decorated soldier for the Italian army in World War One who came to the U-S, became a citizen, started his own business and lived the American Dream. And my father, born in Rome, went on to become a U-S Army surgeon before moving to Huntington, where he served our community for three decades.”
“I share the immense pride both men had in their Italian heritage and am striving to honor their legacies by serving my community with the work ethic and values they cherished.”