In 12 days, voters in Malverne will decide if will stay on the village board or if will take over the seat of the , serving out the three years that remain of his term.
With the March 20 special election approaching, Patch is spending this week helping readers get to know the two candidates better. On Monday, and today, we hand over the microphone to Canzoneri-Callahan, of the Independent Party.
MEET THE CANDIDATES: Patricia Canzoneri-Callahan
For 12 years, Canzoneri-Callahan stood by her husband’s side as he served on the board. During most of the 1980s and 1990s, she also watched her father, Joseph Canzoneri, lead the village as a trustee and then mayor of Malverne. But in July, a few months after the sudden death of her 42-year-old husband from cancer, Canzoneri-Callahan was .
“I always wanted to serve on the board,” Canzoneri-Callahan told Patch, recalling a conversation she had with her husband before he embarked on his successful campaign for a fourth term in office last year. “He knew that there would be a time for him to step down,” she says. When he told her this term would be his last, she admitted to him that she might then run, and he supported the idea, telling her she would be “very good at it.”
“This is not the way I wanted it to happen but it’s something I always wanted to do,” she says.
One reason Jim wanted to devote another four years to the village board, according to his wife, was so he could try to open a community rec center on the land the village acquired from the sale of Grossmann’s Farm. He had started to organize a committee to explore this idea, which was comprised of local people from “all walks of life” including a teacher, an architect and a youth sports coordinator, Canzoneri-Callahan says.
If elected, she would make it her goal to pick up where her husband left off, re-organize this committee and start looking at possibly building a community center similar to the one run by the village of Rockville Centre.
“I think it would be a phenomenal addition to our community, for our seniors, our youth and other groups to meet,” she said, adding that the center could also host birthday parties, which could generate revenue that would help to sustain it. She’d use her skills and experience as a certified public accountant to find ways this could be done affordably so it isn’t a burden to taxpayers.
In regards to between the village and the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps and MVAC’s use of the new building on Hempstead Avenue, Dr. Carol Hassett’s primary reasons for running for the board – Canzoneri-Callahan said she couldn’t say much.
“The discussion and negotiations between our board and the ambulance corps board have all been done in executive session and as a trustee, there are rules of confidentiality that I have to abide by,” she said. “I’m surprised Mrs. Hassett divulged as much as she did…in my opinion, she did not act appropriately.”
Canzoneri-Callahan did say that the village board “continues to hope” that MVAC’s board will approve the contract and lease agreement that was presented to them on Feb. 2.
“I’ve been told by [MVAC President] Joe Karam that he expects the board and membership to approve that,” she added. (At Wednesday’s village board meeting, Karam said there are still two issues that need to be settled in the latest version of the contract, but the parties are “almost there.”)
“The Ambulance Corps is just one piece of being a trustee,” Canzoneri-Callahan said she’s learned from the eight months she’s served on the board. “There are so many more issues a trustee is faced with: the budget process, dealing with the tax cap and continuing to maintain the level of serve we already have. I am intimately aware of what is required and the gravity of the fiduciary responsibility.”
Regarding the tax cap, Canzoneri-Callahan supports it just to protect the village from paying any penalties if an error is made that causes the budget to creep past the limits imposed by the law.
“Even if you present a budget you believe to be within cap, but make a math error, the penalties are very burdensome and onerous,” she says, adding “I’m an accountant and even I find the [tax cap formula] to be complicated.”
While she’s in favor of the override, she still thinks that the village should not intentionally violate the cap and should continue its pattern of minimal annual tax increases.
As for the development of vacant commercial properties in the village, Canzoneri-Callahan voted to to be open inside the empty Tri Color building on Hempstead Avenue but denied the part of the proposal that called for office space in the basement, “because we don't know what is going to go in there…and the strain that would put on the current parking situation.”
Regarding theat the old Woodland Nursery site, Canzoneri-Callahan said there is currently no formal application before the board at this time, but she is aware that “the development of that property is a critical piece.”
“It’s critical that the people on the board do what’s proper and have the skills to analyze what’s best for the village,” she said, adding that any development should be “consistent with the beautiful character” that Malverne is known for. One of the reason’s Malverne is so beautiful, she says, is because of the village laws and ordinances that are in place, disagreeing with her opponent’s assertion that residents are “overregulated.”
Canzoneri-Callahan believes she is “the right person for the job” because she “brings the right skill set and experience,” citing her legal and accounting background, the fact that she has worked for big and small companies, and that she has successful run her own firm for the past 11 years. “I’m very humble but can say, ‘I am well qualified to do this job.’”
“My children are the fifth generation of family that grew up here,” she says. “I am working everyday to ensure that the village continues to be the beautiful place it is now. I’m well aware of how to represent my family, my friends and my neighbors.”