Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol announces the Town’s debut of real-time closed captioning of Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board Appeals meetings for viewing on the Town’s government access television channel and on the Town’s website.
“This is an important expansion of both the Town’s transparency of government actions and its ability to better serve the disabled community,” said Councilwoman Cergol, whose initiative in early 2018 first began live-streaming of the meetings.
“As a member of the Huntington's Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, I want to thank Councilwoman Joan Cergol and her staff for meeting with us and quickly acting on the committee's suggestion to add closed captioning to town meeting videos,” said committee member Len Urban. “People like myself with a hearing loss, depend on closed captioning to enjoy television, movies and also to keep informed. We can now follow the comments, conversations and debates at Town Hall easily at home without the frustrations of not hearing clearly.”
When Councilwoman Cergol met with the Town’s Citizens Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities, committee members cited two actions they wanted the Town to pursue: expanding HART Bus paratransit service to take residents to doctor’s appointments at two medical facilities on the east side of Commack Road; and, adding closed captioning to the town meeting broadcasts.
Councilwoman Cergol contacted the Town’s Department of Transportation, which agreed to a pilot program expanding the HART paratransit service to the Memorial Sloane-Kettering facility and to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at 650 Commack Road, Commack and the St. Catherine & St. Charles Health & Wellness Center and Stony Brook Advanced Specialty Care, both at 500 Commack Rd.
The process that led to closed captioning was more involved. A search of other municipalities that provided closed captioning found that some used a paid service in which people listened to the meetings and added the captions, not necessarily in real time.
The Town’s Information Technology Department, however, said it preferred to seek a piece of speech-to-text equipment that would be more cost effective and allow instantaneous translations. The issues centered on both cost and accuracy. Cergol’s staff began contacting governments throughout the United States which led to conversations with officials in Austin, TX, whose captions appeared to meet the accuracy test. They identified the equipment they used and the manufacturer – a company, as it turned out, headquartered in Farmingdale, LI.
“I’m proud to say our nationwide search led us right back to Long Island,” Councilwoman Cergol said.
Cergol’s staff passed that information on to the Information Technology Department, which arranged to borrow the device for a test. When that test met the town’s standards, and was then favorably reviewed by a hearing-impaired member of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, the decision was made to purchase the equipment, at no cost to taxpayers. Cergol tapped the franchise fees paid to the Town by Altice and Verizon to fund the equipment purchase and associated monthly usage fees.
“I want to thank Citizen Advisory Committee for Persons with Disabilities member Len Urban for beta-testing the closed captioning technology on behalf of the town’s hearing-impaired community, and Committee Chair Marianne Iannaccone and her committee members for their very important role in sensitizing us to the barriers they confront so we can do all we can to remove them,” concluded Councilwoman Cergol.
The meetings can be viewed on the Town’s government access channels, Optimum Channel 18 and FiOS Channel 38, or on the Town’s website at www.huntingtonny.gov/meetings
Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol continues to receive support from organized labor in her re-election campaign, picking up the endorsement of a second major labor organization.
The Communications Workers of America Local 1108 recently endorsed Councilwoman Cergol, with its president, Don Dunn, telling the Councilwoman in its endorsement letter: “We feel that you have been a strong advocate for the membership of CWA 1108 and the working men and women in the Town of Huntington…You are a true friend of CWA and Labor and your loyalty to us all will not be forgotten.”
“I appreciate their support and thank them for recognizing my commitment to ensuring that our hard-working families have a voice in Town government,” Councilwoman Cergol said. “I look forward to continue working with the CWA on issues important to them and to all of organized labor.”
This is Councilwoman Cergol’s second major labor endorsement, having previously received the support of the Long Island Federation of Labor.
Councilwoman Cergol is running on the Democratic, Independence, Working Families and Green Party lines.
Long Island Federation of Labor Executive Director Roger Clayman with Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol
Huntington Councilwoman Joan Cergol has again won the endorsement of the Long Island Federation of Labor in her 2019 reelection campaign.
In a letter from President John Durso and Executive Director Roger Clayman, the 250,000-member Long Island Federation said its endorsement was based on Councilwoman Cergol’s record and her commitment to working families.
“We are confident that you share with us a common vision about the future of Long Island,” the Federation wrote. “Good jobs with decent pay and benefits are the basis of a stable middle-class lifestyle. That is something we can achieve together.” The Federation said it looked forward to “working with you to build opportunities for the next generation, to live and work here on Long Island is safe, prosperous communities.”
“I am gratified that the Long Island Federation recognized my continuing dedication to keeping Huntington a Town that fosters economic development, preserves our middle class life style and paves the way for our future,” said Councilwoman Cergol, who also received Long Island Federation support in her 2018 election campaign. “I thank the LI Fed for their endorsement and look forward to continuing to work with them.”
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.”
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.”