What’s most important to Oyster Bay Town Councilman Steve Labriola is his commitment to protecting a suburban quality of life.
Councilwoman Laura Maier would keep her focus on bringing small businesses to Oyster Bay — and keeping them there.
And for Councilwoman Vicki Walsh, a second term would ensure the continuation of what she believes is her mission — to connect everyone.
The three Republican board members work together closely with one goal always on their minds: To serve the residents of the Town of Oyster Bay.
They wish to continue bringing their skills to the entire town, regardless of where they live. Walsh, a resident of East Norwich, said she has spent a great deal of time in Hicksville — a good 20 minutes away — and has been successful in making progress there.
“The reason I wanted to run in 2019 was because I felt I had a pulse on the community as a former PTA president and with my work at my church,” she told reporters as part of a recent Herald Roundtable session. “I felt like I had perfected it in my little community, and it was time to bring it over to different communities.”
When she learned people living in Hicksville were upset about a lack of Christmas decorations in their business district, she stepped in to help. Residents were misinformed that the town was footing the bill for decorations in its other areas, but not in Hicksville. They were resentful.
“Everyone though in East Norwich the town paid for the beautiful landscape on 106. It was residents chipping in,” Walsh said. “I sat with Hicksville’s chamber, and we made plans for a holiday beautification on Broadway. And we did it with the help of three longtime residents, and got people to donate by going door-to-door.”
Then she convinced Hicksville’s restaurants to get involved in the Adopt a Spot program to decorate storefronts. Soon Beautify Broadway was born thanks to Walsh.
Then she went to Glen Head to do something similar. Enlisting the help from a town commissioner, wreaths were put up in the community’s business district.
“This was a challenge before because there was no communication,” Walsh said. “But I met with the president of the Gold Coast Chamber, and now it’s a routine thing to do. Our town crews trim the trees and change the lighting to prepare for the holidays.”
Walsh’s plans, if reelected, is to continue her efforts to connect residents with government.
“My biggest frustration when I ran four years ago was that nothing was connected,” she said. “When I was PTA president, I never met anyone from the town. As a leader in Scouts, I didn’t either. In the last four years, we’ve changed that. We not only talk to school superintendents all the time, but I’m also working on projects with students and police officers.”
Maier, who lives in Massapequa, said she’s very involved in the chamber of commerce and would like to continue her focus on helping businesses, which are suffering. A franchise agent for three Dairy Queens and three Jersey Mike’s Subs, she has had firsthand experience of the struggles businesses suffered during the coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath.
Covid, she said, changed everything for businesses.
“For me to meet with business owners and get information out there about grants was valuable,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know where to go for help. They think Town Hall is a scary place. I want to continue to help them.”
Maier says she has worked hard to expedite the town’s permit process for small businesses. And the rest of the country may have moved on from Covid, but businesses continue to struggle.
“We’re still entrenched in Covid, finding quality candidates to fill jobs,” Maier said. “A box of gloves four years ago cost $25. Now it is between $80 and $90. It’s hard to keep up.”
One of Maier’s sons has leukemia. During Covid, there was a blood shortage which affected him. Undeterred, Maier arranged for several blood drives, and she’s made an impact. Last year she was recognized as Woman of the Year by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for her efforts.
“I ran a lot of blood drives and tried to incentivize people to give blood and platelets — especially during the pandemic,” Maier said. “People didn’t donate then. I focus on this cause because it’s very personal to me.”
Labriola says he made a promise four years ago and kept it: Creating charging stations for electric vehicles inside the town.
“I wanted us to get with the times,” he said. “I worked with the environmental department to get grant funding, and got the largest grant for it on Long Island — $500,000 from the state. We plan to put the charging stations in our parks and at our beaches. The first one is already in T.R. Park in Oyster Bay.”
Labriola, who lives in Massapequa, hopes to continue working to benefit residents, which he’s tried to do in a number of ways since he was elected. He is responsible for the signs at town playgrounds that promote allergy awareness, for example.
When parents bring their children to playgrounds, they bring food for them, which could harm children with allergies. The signs alert parents to clean their children’s hands with wipes after eating before they touch the playground equipment.
He also had a sensory playground built for children on the spectrum.
One initiative Labriola holds dear, he said, is his Hometown Heroes project as his father was a World War II veteran. Labriola’s Hometown Heroes project has banners hanging in parks depicting the real heroes — veterans and those serving.
“We talk about heroes all the time, and unfortunately some are not heroes in rock ‘n’ roll and Hollywood,” he said.
Labriola says he is also working to promote the downtowns. He’d like to continue arranging for events to bring people out to help promote small businesses.
But, he added, “All of us are promoting our downtowns.”