Ten months after the election for Sanitary District 1 commissioner between appointed Commissioner Gwynette Campbell and challenger Gabriel Boxer, Campbell was finally declared the winner by Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Randy Sue Marber on May 16.
Marber directed the district to certify the election results based on the canvassing of paper ballots on March 23, 24 and 27. After the review was completed, Campbell, of Inwood, had 762 votes to Boxer’s 554, overturning the initial July 11, 2022, result, which had Boxer, of Hewlett, leading, 395 to 228. Marber ruled that Boxer and his attorney, John Ciampoli, did not have enough evidence to dispute the result.
“I am extremely happy with the results of the Election,” Campbell wrote. “It was a long process and we prevailed.”
She was appointed to the sanitary district board in April 2022, succeeding Lino Viola, who stepped down that month.
Two days after the election, Boxer went to court to dispute the legality of the district’s issuance and review of absentee ballot applications and the distribution of those ballots. Boxer and Ciampoli claimed the district failed to provide a record of who gave and received ballot applications, and Ciampoli called for the court to either invalidate ballots or declare Boxer the winner based on the July 11 results.
“It seems like in the sanitary district, the terms of the (U.S.) Constitution are optional,” Ciampoli said of Marber’s ruling. “If the commissioners there don’t benefit from the terms of the Constitution, they will not apply them. The voters be damned.”
A court order brought both parties to district headquarters in Lawrence for the March ballot canvassing. Not satisfied with the results, Boxer asked the court to declare him the winner based on his claim that the district violated state election law by not verifying voters’ identities on record with the Nassau County Board of Elections.
During the canvassing, Ciampoli said, he objected to more than 700 ballots, for reasons ranging from the date a ballot was stamped, to a signature not appearing to match one on file with the district, to whether a voter was registered.
Ciampoli previously told the Herald that the election was poorly administered, and that over the course of his career, he had never seen anything like it.
Boxer did not return a call seeking comment, but posted his reaction to Marber’s ruling on Facebook. “Sanitary District One can run an election however they want,” Boxer wrote.
“Yes, even if it is a sham. Even if they prevented voters from voting by erroneously saying that they were not registered, one can do anything they want. Even if they gave absentee ballots to voters who were not registered to vote. Even if they run the election how they want. Even if it’s wrong. They can do it. Because the law does not apply to them and the judge is powerless. Is this even possible in the United States of America?”
“I definitely stayed positive in taking the high road unlike Mr. Boxer,” Campbell wrote. “Looking forward to the future in this role.”
Incumbent Commissioner James Vilardi was also on the July 11 ballot, running unopposed for a five-year term. A Hewlett resident, Vilardi was appointed to the board in 2005. He also served as commissioner of the Nassau County Bridge Authority 2012 to 2022.
“I’m gratified that the voters of Sanitary District 1 chose me to return for another five-year term,” Vilardi said. “We’ve been serving district residents faithfully for many years and I pledge to continue that. We’re gratified that the court dismissed each and every allegation made by Boxer and concluded that the election was run in a fair and proper way.”
Ciampoli said he was discussing with Boxer how they should proceed — whether to appeal Marber’s decision or to encourage voters to bring civil rights actions against the sanitary district.
“This election was a travesty,” Ciampoli said.
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