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Four run for fire commissioner in Franklin Square, Elmont

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*** An earlier version of this story misspelled Joseph Balletta's name. We regret the error***

Sitting fire commissioners in Franklin Square and Elmont are facing challengers in this year’s elections on Dec. 8.

In Franklin Square

In Franklin Square, incumbent Christopher Gioia is running for re-election against challenger Christopher Howard.

Gioia could not be reached for comment as of press time, but told the Herald in 2015 that he was running because he felt the five-person board was “totally out of touch with the Fire Department and the community it serves,” and he wanted to “restore fiscal sanity to the fire district and to help restore the faith of the community to which the commissioners are elected to serve.”

He was a 30-year member of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department at the time, and had served as an emergency medical technician for 25 years and the chief of the fire department from 2007 - 2012.

Howard, meanwhile, has been living in the Franklin Square community for 35 years and has served as a volunteer firefighter for seven. He said he decided to run for fire commissioner this year to give the members of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department a voice on the commissioners board.

If elected, he said, he would work to grow the fire department’s membership and boost morale, while retaining the department’s current membership. There are currently only about 100 active members in the Franklin Square & Munson Fire Department, Howard said, and new recruits are required to respond to a number of calls, while also attending classes at the Nassau County Fire Services Academy twice a week.

“We have to make certain changes to continue to do what we do,” Howard said, adding that he hopes to have the community’s support in the election because he will give 110 percent of his time and effort to accomplish his goals.

Voting for the Franklin Square & Munson fire commissioners race will be held on Dec. 8 from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Franklin Square & Munson firehouse, 841 Liberty Place.

In Elmont

In Elmont, Fire Commissioner Joseph Balletta is seeking another term on the board, but is being challenged by Jean Duroseau.

Bolletta has been an active member of the Elmont Fire Department for 33 years, serving as the chief for three and a half, and serving on the fire commissioners board for 15. He is currently the fire department’s treasurer.

“I like helping out,” he said. “That’s all I want to do is help out.”

During his time on the fire commissioners board, Balletta said the Elmont Fire District has purchased new portable radios, kept the budget in check and “never held back on training.” The board only buys the best equipment, he said, and if he were to be re-elected, he would like to hire a dispatcher for the Elmont community, make the training tower more challenging for the volunteer firefighters and would continue to fight with the Water Authority of Western Nassau County to lower rental fees on the fire hydrants.

“I’m fighting for myself, my neighbors and my friends across the community,” Balletta said, adding that after 15 years on the board, “I think I’ve gained enough knowledge to continue to help the community.”

His opponent, Jean Duroseau, has been serving in the Elmont Fire Department for 21 years, and previously served as the captain of the EMS squad. He recently retired from his position as supervisor of transportation at the Elmont Union Free School District, and served on the NICE bus system’s board of committees for the past seven years. Duroseau is currently a member of Truck 1 and the Truck 1 Corporation.

He decided to run for fire commissioner, he said, because the current members have served on the board for about 20 to 30 years.  “When you’ve already spent 15 years and you’re looking for another five, I don’t think that’s right,” Duroseau said.

If Duroseau were to be elected, he said, his focus will be on the “safety and training of the members.”

Voting for the Elmont fire commissioners race will be held on Dec. 8 from 12 to 9 p.m. at the Elmont Fire Department headquarters, 95 Lehrer Avenue.