Joseph Saladino, 56, was installed at a celebratory inauguration, along with councilmen Thomas Hand and Louis Imbroto, Councilwoman Michele Johnson and Town Clerk James Altadonna Jr. on Wednesday. The occasion, which took place in the auditorium of Hicksville High School, a portion of the town that Saladino has pledged to dramatically revitalize, was joyous, and at times like one big party.
“Roosevelt said, ‘Take charge and dare to do mighty things,’” Saladino said. “That’s what we are doing in the Town of Oyster Bay. This administration is getting the job done in a cost-effective manner with a new level of professionalism that hasn’t been seen in a long time.”
The inauguration was originally planned for Jan. 4, but the snowstorm led to a rescheduling. Councilman Joseph Muscarella, who served as the master of ceremonies for the evening, jokingly referred to the snowstorm as the “Saladino Blizzard.” The ceremony had to be postponed last week.
Muscarella’s comparison was all in fun, as was much of the evening. The councilman joked quite a bit and shared personal anecdotes to create a casual, respectful atmosphere. People appeared to be enjoying themselves, as did Saladino.
Joan Flaumenbaum, of Farmingdale, has known Saladino for the past 25 years from the Republican Club. “He was always upbeat and had a 24/7 work ethic,” she said. “I always told Joe, ‘You will be a government official someday.’”
Muscarella and Imbroto referenced the November election a few times, saying it was challenging. The town has been run by the GOP for decades, most often winning elections without much effort. A growing number of residents, however, expressed concern last year following the arrest and resignation of former Supervisor John Venditto, who is facing federal corruption charges. Republicans were concerned that residents’ dissatisfaction with their former supervisor would lead Republican supporters to stay home on Election Day, or vote for the challengers.
“It was an historic election last year against all odds,” Muscarella said. “It was the best election in the Town of Oyster Bay ever.”
“My campaign was an uphill battle,” said Imbroto, who had run in the past unsuccessfully for assemblyman and county legislator. “It proves that hard work pays off.”
People probably voted for Saladino, who says often that he works seven days a week, for a variety of reasons. One thing was pretty certain. By Election Day, many residents had met or seen him. He consistently attended Eagle Scout ceremonies, Oyster Bay museum events, festivals and all manner of events.
Kathy Smith, the director of the Locust Valley Library, never wavered in her support. “I am so happy to be here and see Supervisor Saladino and Michele Johnson, who is from Locust Valley, be inaugurated,” she said. “They both have supported the library. And Supervisor Saladino did so as an assemblyman too.”
Debbie Podolski, the Farmingdale Library director, said she had written to Saladino when she had concerns about the future of Nassau County libraries. “He’s was so strong on library issues in Albany,” she said. “He will bring the same dynamic to the town. And he’s always been there for our community.”
During the invocation, the Rev. Kenneth Zack, of St. Rose of Lima Church, said Saladino’s parents had taught him not to misuse authority. “They told him to hunger for justice and thirst for honesty,” he said. “He is guided by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.’”
After Altadonna was sworn in by Councilman Anthony Maccarone, he jokingly said, “Mac always seems to tell me what to do,” then he added more seriously, “It’s an honor to serve the residents of the Town of Oyster Bay.”
Hand said after being installed that he was committed to working for the town. “The whole job is about doing the right thing,” he said. “It’s not what I say, it’s what I do.”
Imbroto said he was committed to restoring public trust. “We’ve had the first property-tax cut in two decades and reduced the town debt by the largest amount in the history of the town,” he said.
Johnson, who was reelected for her second term, said she couldn’t be prouder. “The town board holds residents first and always has the best interests of the community in mind,” she said. “We will continue to reevaluate our finances and ethics and show how good Republican government works. My priority will be to protect the environment.”
In a show of bipartisan unity, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a friend of Saladino’s, spoke at the ceremony. He also swore in the new supervisor.
“You don’t pick your friends on the basis of whether they are Republican or Democrat,” he said. “It’s how they fight, how they represent the people. He was relentless as an assemblyman talking about environmental issues.
“He became the supervisor at a time of great trouble in the town,” he added. “Joe rose to the occasion and set a clear path. He is a consensus builder and a good listener. One word to describe him is ‘relentless.’”
Saladino said he was honored to become the supervisor. “We are reshaping this town,” he said. “And there is a lot more to get done. I promise we wil not let you down.”
The evening included impressive performances by Amanda Swickle, who sang a rousing rendition of the national anthem, and a traditional Indian dance was performed by Jyotika Dance Group, which led people to clap along to the music.