Saying they are tired of the one-party rule that has dominated politics in the Village of Island Park for many years, a group of residents have formed a new political party.
Called the Voice Party, the group hopes to give residents more choices at the polls during the next village election.
“We formed the Voice Party to give the community a voice so they have a choice in our next election on who they can vote for,” said Laura Hassett, one of the party’s founders, who ran for village trustee in March but was defeated. She was joined in forming the new party by Glenn Ingoglia, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and Columbia Ciccimarro, a member of the Island Park Civic Association.
The three, who make up the governing body of the party, insisted they don’t have any personal issues with the Unity Party, to which all five members of the village Board of Trustees belong. “[Having a second party] creates accountability, which is really what we’re looking to do,” Ingoglia said. “We’ve had one party in power for 40 years, so we’re looking for some accountability. And I think it will make things better.”
The idea to create a new party was hatched months ago, after Hassett lost her bid for trustee. After months of planning and paperwork, the Voice Party became official on July 3. Though it has fewer than 20 members, Ingoglia said, they hope to grow when they start holding public meetings, the first of which is scheduled for Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m., at the Fireman’s Exempt Hall on Long Beach Road. When the party had its official coming out at the Labor Day fireworks show, the reception was positive.
“We were out on the beach with some other members of the party, and people were receptive,” said Ciccimarro. “Some people were a little cautious, but others were like, ‘That’s a great idea. It’s been too long that it’s been like this.’”
In the next village election, in 2014, the Voice Party expects to have three candidates to challenge the Unity Party. Hassett plans to run for trustee again, and Ingoglia will run for mayor. A third candidate, who has yet to be chosen, will run for a second trustee seat.
“We first and foremost want to run this village more fiscally conservative,” said Ingoglia. “There’s been 40 years of the same party in office, and that tends to leave a lot of things in the budget which don’t necessarily need to be there. So our intention is to cut out some of those things while adding some things. And one of those things we’re hoping to add is to beautify the business district.”
Ingoglia added that such an effort would help attract more new businesses to the area, which now has 12 vacant storefronts. “That’s roughly 40 to 50 percent vacancy,” he said. “We need to improve that. We need to change that. And the way we’re going to do that is by beautifying, and attracting businesses to come in.”
The Voice Party also wants to improve the village infrastructure, specifically roads and parking lots. “Last year our village was devastated by Hurricane Irene,” Ingoglia said. “Nothing has been done to improve the streets. The taxes have gone up 9 percent in the last two years, but there hasn’t been any improvement to the streets or to the drains.”
Between now and the election, the party plans to hold monthly meetings and to continue trying to build support. Its members also want to keep bringing issues to the village board and help resolve them.
“All three of us were born and raised in Island Park, and Laura and I have families here at this point,” Ciccimarro said, “and we want to see it be what it was for us as kids, now.”