When the late Jim Callahan was running for re-election to the village board in Malverne in early 2011, he told his wife, Patricia, that he wanted to serve just one more term.
“I’ll have been on the board for 16 years,” he told her, saying that after that he would be ready to let someone else have the opportunity to serve. It was during this conversation that Patricia said she told her husband, “Maybe when you’re done, I’ll run.”
He was very supportive of the idea. After all, she is a lifelong Malvernite, the daughter of a former mayor, an accomplished attorney and accountant and she had just been elected to the school board of St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead, where their four children attend.
“It is comforting to me to know that he thought I would be good at it,” she told Patch.
Neither of them knew that just a few months later, Jim would be taken away - diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer shortly after he was sworn in for his fourth term – and Patricia’s call to office would come sooner than expected.
After Jim’s passing, Patricia Canzoneri-Callahan stepped down from the school board and accepted Mayor Patricia Norris McDonald’s invitation to serve on the village board, filling her husband’s seat until a special election could be held. Then, this week that Canzoneri-Callahan would be running in that election, scheduled for March 20, 2012, for the three years that remain of her husband’s term. (No other candidates have come forward at this time.)
“I was very surprised by how much I enjoy it,” she said of the roughly six months she has served so far, adding that this time allowed her to test out whether the job was a good fit for her and if she could juggle the responsibilities along with her career and being a mom.
“I’m able to balance everything,” she said, crediting the support she receives from her family, and adds, ” I’m doing a good job.
During her time on the board, she’s been involved with contract negotiations regarding the Malverne Volunteer Ambulance Corps. and reviewing a proposal to bring a new restaurant to the village.
Regarding the latter, she said, “The board has a responsibility to do what’s in the best interest of the community.” She wouldn’t state whether she was for or against the proposal, but did say “our downtown needs to remain vital to preserve what Malverne is all about. If new businesses want to come in we should welcome them but we need to balance other factors such as parking and businesses that are already there..”
As the liaison for the village’s youth board she's been working on bringing more activities to the community, something she hopes to continue if she’s elected. However, she has bigger plans for Malverne’s youth. She’d like to move forward with a goal her husband had set, creating a recreation center on the land the village acquired from the sale of Grossmann’s farm.
“That’s high on my priority list, “ she said, explaining that she would reach out to some of the people her husband had asked to serve on a committee to formulate a plan and look into costs. “It’s a big project but I’d like to start planning.”
Canzoneri-Callahan also says she’s more than qualified for the job. Her experience running her own company, working as a certified public accountant and attorney and serving on Nassau County’s Sewer and Storm Water Finance Authority, will be an asset to the village in the coming months as they craft the annual budget while dealing for the first time with the 2-percent tax cap, she explained.
“We’re facing a big challenge,” she said. “The board has done a great job towing the line of expenses, but pension costs…have gone up so much and we still need to figure out how to provide all the serves we enjoy in Malverne.”
Canzoneri-Callahan says she hopes that by running for the board she can continue to lead by example and serve others, as her husband did, and give back to the community that has given her so much.
“So many people have been so wonderful and supportive during Jim’s illness and afterward. I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else during this difficult time,” she said. “I want to continue to make Malverne a beautiful place to raise a family.”