Residents went to the polls Tuesday to cast their votes for mayor, two village trustees and a village justice in the village general election — and they’ve spoken.
Certified election results hands Mayor Edwin Fare a decisive victory as he retains an office he has held for over a decade.
Fare earned 67 percent of Thursday's final ballot count, successfully fending off first-time challenger Cristina Arroyo and Anthony Bonelli, who fell short of defeating Fare in a second straight village election.
Fare’s United Community Party also made a decisive sweep. Incumbent village Trustee Dermond Thomas — a corporate attorney — won his fourth term. Thomas moved to Valley Stream from Brooklyn in 2007, and became a trustee in 2011, after an unsuccessful bid for the Assembly.
Joining him on the village board is newcomer Kevin Waszak — an insurance claims analyst — who made his political debut after Trustee Vincent Grasso decided not to run in February. Waszak heads the village’s Beautification Committee, and has lived in Valley Stream for nearly six years.
Village Justice Melanie Jenkins won election to her first full term after replacing Justice Virginia Clavin-Higgins when she resigned last year. Jenkins has lived in Valley Stream for nearly two decades, and has been an attorney for more than 30 years.
Fare’s party offered itself as a safe, proven choice while also seeking to reassert its community-first vision as the party most concerned with quality-of-life issues in Valley Stream. That vision appears to have been persuasive, and the party will extend its decade-long domination of village politics for another four years.
Fare, a Republican, was elected mayor in 2011, succeeding Ed Cahill, but had broken into village politics seven years earlier, as a trustee. Fare graduated from Valley Stream Central High School in 1980 before earning a master’s in computer science at Long Island University.
Fare prevailed this year despite facing considerable heat from his opponents over his handling of the village’s fund balance. Nevertheless, he cast himself as the best steward of local government’s finances, defending his spending decisions as a necessity in order to repair the village’s crumbling infrastructure.
“Ed Cahill’s management style was to save every penny and not repair roads and not make improvements,” Fare said at a recent Herald roundtable. “We wrongly thought the smartest thing was to take out of our cash reserves to [pay] for these improvements.”
But with recent belt-tightening efforts, Fare promised not only that the village was on pace toward a sound fiscal recovery but that his next four years will usher in a stable fiscal era.
“We have $2 million in the bank, and we just sold Parking Lot 26 for $7 million,” the mayor said. “So, we’ll have $9 million back in the bank within a month or two,” he said.
Both Arroyo, a political activist and data manager and nonprofit educational consultant, and Bonelli, a trustee at Valley Stream District 13, called for a fundamental change in the direction of village government.
The challengers presented themselves as a clear break from the perceived influence of cronyism at Village Hall and took jabs at the village’s controversial new housing developments and the quality and competence of its bureaucracy.
“It’s not the results we were hoping for,” said Bonelli who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2019. “But I’m very proud of our performance and of the conduct of my fellow candidates. And I strongly believe they have positive futures in public service."
Arroyo, who placed an early emphasis on racial equity in Valley Stream’s underserved communities during her campaign, sought to appeal to what she perceived as a politically sidelined segment of the village’s population particularly its younger generations and people of color. But her hopes of becoming the first Latina woman elected to the mayor’s seat fizzled.
"I can just say that I love that there was more voter turnout in the village,” Arroyo said in her concession, claiming a massive increase in turnout from recent municipal elections. “I ran on my principles, and we hope to increase voter turnout even more next year."
In what has shaped to be a celebratory night for the UCP, Mayor Fare spoke to an electrified crowd of supporters at the American Legion Post 854, thanking residents for their vote.
"Thank you to everyone who supported us and work so hard to keep the Village of Valley Stream the best place it can be," said Fare. "Clearly, the United Community Party is the best choice for a bright future. We know that there has been much progress made during these last terms in office, but we know more progress and advancements are coming.
"There is still much work to be done, and we are up to the challenge. Let's get to work."
Additional reporting by Mike Malaszczyk.