After six years as the Town of Oyster Bay supervisor, Joseph Saladino says he still has a lot he wants to accomplish. The Massapequa native has been a mainstay of town and state politics for over three decades, which, he asserts, makes him the only candidate in the race with the experience to lead the town into the future.
To understand his plans, Saladino said, all anyone has to do is look at his accomplishments since he took office in January 2017. Appointed by the Town Board following John Venditto’s resignation amid corruption charges, Saladino touted his reorganization of the town’s finances, his focus on environmental protection and development, and his upgrades of constituent services.
“In essence, we turned (Oyster Bay) from one of the worst towns in America to now one of the best towns in America in every category,” Saladino said. “With 35 years of experience, I think there are very few elected officials on Long Island that have more years of experience than I do.”
He said that one of his proudest achievements, and a continued focus if he is re-elected, is improving the town’s finances. Saladino pointed to the fact that when he took office, his administration turned the town’s roughly $44 million deficit into a surplus of around $89 million.
He also highlighted the fact that his administration had improved Oyster Bay’s credit rating, which is investment agencies’ way of determining the ability and willingness of the town to meet its financial obligations. The town’s current rating is AA-, according to Moody’s Investors Service and other agencies, and Saladino said that, if re-elected, he planned to ensure that Oyster Bay becomes an AAA town, the highest rating it can receive, by continuing to responsibly manage its finances.
“We’re only two notches away from a perfect AAA rating, while cutting taxes, while paying off all the debt I inherited,” he said. “We’re going to continue to work for a AAA bond rating, the best bond rating the town has ever had, or any town can have.”
Saladino also emphasized his continuing commitment to protecting the environment and Oyster Bay’s natural resources, especially the Long Island Sound. He said that he was working on expanding the town’s shellfish hatchery, which grows oysters and clams that are then distributed in the Sound, where they help remove nitrogen and provide habitat for other marine life.
Part of the town’s shellfish management program, the shellfish hatchery is the only one run by a municipality on the North Shore. It currently produces roughly 2 million clams and oysters per year, but Saladino said he was working to increase that number by millions.
“Plans are in the works to expand our shellfish hatchery up on the North Shore, where we could put millions more clams and oysters of a size that makes them almost 100 percent sustainable from predators,” Saladino said. “So now the grow-out of our clams and oysters is the best it’s ever been.”
He said he also planned to expand the town’s recycling program, “moving forward to make it one of the best recycling programs in the United States” by increasing the percentage of recyclables in the waste stream, the path waste takes to disposal or recycling.
Despite these successes, however, a recent litany of public scandals have plagued the town, and the Nassau County Republican Party at large, focused on Brian Noone and George Santos. Noone, the town’s former inspector general, recently resigned following the announcement of an investigation into his dealings with current and former cybersecurity business partners, while the list of Santos’ falsehoods and legal woes has become well known.
Saladino said that despite these complications, he firmly believes the people of Oyster Bay still trust him and his administration, and can continue to. He added that his administration cooperated with the county district attorney’s office in its investigation of Noone, and, having strengthened the ethics requirements for the inspector general’s office, he and the Town Board will continue to make sure that residents have every reason to trust their administration.
“There already is enormous faith in our administration,” Saladino said. “That faith has not been eroded. Having said that, we have zero tolerance in the town not only for wrongdoing, but for even the appearance of wrongdoing. It’s easy to hold the helm when the seas are calm, but when things are tough is when you see what someone’s metal is really about.”
Ultimately, Saladino said, what matters are his decades of experience and the results in his six years in office. He said that the work he has done for the town speaks for itself, and he is confident that the voters will recognize that.
“The morale in the town is at the highest it’s ever been,” Saladino concluded. “Our residents are happy to live here. I get so many compliments for our programs and entertainment and all the many ways that we continue to make the third-largest town in America the best town in America.”