Stewart Manor: The Old Guard Remains

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Incumbent Stewart Manor trustees William Grogan and Mary Carole Schafenberg easily won re-election to four-year terms over challengers Orlando Sa and Peter Genova in last week’s village election.

Running as the candidate of the Independent Unity Party, Grogan drew 222 votes while Schafenberg nabbed 191 votes as the candidate of The People’s Party. Sa and Genova pulled 89 votes and 82 votes, respectively, as candidates of the Village Party, which currently holds three seats on the five-member village board. Voter turnout was light, with only 303 residents out of approximately 1,600 eligible voters casting ballots in the March 18 election.

“I really appreciate the support of a lot of people,” said the 77-year-old Grogan, a former U.S. Marine and retired IBM executive. “Despite being a senior citizen, I think some people have learned not to underestimate the energy, tenacity and intelligence of a U.S. Marine.”

Grogan, who was elected to serve the remainder of former trustee James Lynch’s one-year term in last year’s election, emphasized a conservative fiscal approach to local government as his top priority, a priority expressed by all the candidates.  

“Keeping our taxes and expenses low is a priority,” he said last week. “People expect a certain level of services to be maintained and you have to strike a balance.”

The 65-year-old Schafenberg won election as an independent candidate after winning a one-year term as a Village Party candidate in last year’s election. A principal in a New York City elementary school, she had originally been appointed by Mayor Gerard Tangredi to fill his seat on the board after Tangredi won election as mayor two years ago.  

Schafenberg did not respond to emails seeking comment on the election results.

“It’s a good result. They did a better job than we did. They outworked us,” said Sa, who Tangredi had originally appointed to fill the seat vacated by Lynch.

Sa, 52, a retired New York City Police detective who also had a local masonry business, lost the seat in a three-way race with Grogan and Schafenberg for the two one-year open terms on the village board last year.

Sa and Genova, a project manager for the North Shore Health System, were both asked to run on the Village Party ticket by Tangredi, who did not respond to requests to comment on the election results.

Prior to the election, Tangredi said he didn’t know why Schafenberg decided to run independently rather than as a candidate for the Village Party. But he said the move did not indicate any sort of rift between he and Schafenberg.

Tangredi said the decision to run two Village Party candidates against Schafenberg and Grogan was strictly a political one, so that his party would be amply represented on the ballot

Top vote-getter Grogan said he knocked on every door of virtually each house in the village during a campaign that he described as “a wonderful experience.”

Apart from confirming support for maintaining low taxes in the village, Grogan said his door-to-door effort evidenced a lack of understanding among village residents about requirements the village code imposes on residents seeking to make home improvements.

“We have to a better job of communicating that the village code is a benefit to the residents,” Grogan said.

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