By Timothy Bolger
Saltaire village voters can re-elect their current mayor or choose a challenger during the elections on Friday, May 27, but only one candidate is running for one of two open trustee seats.
Trustee John Zaccaro Jr. is challenging Mayor Robert Cox, who is running for his fourth two-year term, while Trustee Frank Wolf is expected to sail to re-election without an opponent. Zaccaro said he is running to help smooth tensions in the village while Cox countered that he’s the best choice to see through the unfinished Superstorm Sandy recovery work.
“I am running because I have the desire to finish the job that we began four years ago and because I believe I am better qualified,” Cox said. “Together we have made extraordinary progress—yet there is still much to be done.”
The campaign comes just as Fire Island’s second largest village is about to usher in the reopening of a new $5.4-million market to replace the old one that was demolished after being flooded in the 2012 hurricane. The reopening followed three years of delays and a lawsuit.
“We need to bridge the gap during this divisive time in our village history,” Zaccaro said. “It saddens me that there are so many residents who feel their only recourse is to commence legal action against the village. As mayor I will strive to be inclusive and will make every effort to resolve differences amicably.”
Zaccaro, the son of the late Geraldine Ferraro, a Democratic congresswoman who made history as the first U.S. female vice presidential candidate in 1984, is forgoing re-election to his trustee seat in order to challenge Cox. Whoever wins the mayoral race will likely tap an appointee to fill the vacant seat.
The election is the first mayoral contest in four years in Saltaire. Cox ran unopposed in 2014 after twice beating Trustee High O’Brien for the village’s top post. Wolf and Zaccaro, who both have been trustees on-and-off over the years, also ran unopposed two years ago.
“I hope to play a constructive role on the board with a combination of useful qualities: open mindedness; candor; a desire for compromise and conciliation; and a capacity to laugh, especially at myself,” said Wolf, a retired college dean and the only one of the three candidates who’s not an attorney.
As for the main event, Cox and Zaccaro both touted their professional experience. Zaccaro has decades of experience in the real estate industry, including investment, management and development. Cox spent decades working in the financial services industry, gaining experience in strategic planning, regulations and financial controls.
Zaccaro suggested that he organized the Saltaire fireworks show and Fourth of July beach BBQ is evidence that he will help build the community spirit.
“I will lead by example and together we will make Saltaire the best it can be for those of us who enjoy it today and those who will enjoy it in the future,” he said.
Cox maintained that he will hold true to his original campaign promise “to honor and preserve Saltaire’s heritage, to be vigilant about protecting it and to build a platform for Saltaire to create a future consistent with the rich traditions of the past.”
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