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Two vying for trustee in Village of Rockville Centre special election

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Michael Scalere, a Rockville Centre small business owner and a candidate in the upcoming special election for village trustee, says he represents “Rockville Centre’s past, present and future.”

“I grew up here, I have kids here, and they will grow up and hopefully live here,” the lifelong village resident said.

Scalere, 47, who owns a small television production company, is challenging incumbent Trustee Nancy Howard, 60, who served on the village board from 2011 to 2017, then moved to Florida for two years before returning to the board in 2019 upon the retirement of Ed Oppenheimer. She is seeking re-election for the remaining portion of a term expiring July 5, 2021, “to finish what we’ve started,” she said.

“We’ve done a lot of great things,” Howard said of the board. “We had a long-term vision, there’s been great momentum, and I want to be able to continue that.”

One of Howard’s top priorities, she said, is completing widespread infrastructure projects, including roads and an iron-filtration system for the village’s water supply. “It’s very costly, because it’s not just the surface — it’s water, sewage and electricity,” she said. “We’re trying to keep taxes down and do these important projects.”

Scalere is running on a platform of transparency. Early this summer, he said, he and his neighbors in southern Rockville Centre awoke to bulldozers starting construction of a new synthetic-turf field in Tighe Park. While he was aware that the new field was approved last year, he didn’t know when the work was scheduled to begin.

“I’m not against Tighe Field,” Scalere said. “We just didn’t know it was happening. I’m sure the field is going to be beautiful. I’m not here to make a statement about that decision. I just want to get more residents involved.”

If elected, he said, he will strengthen the lines of communication between village officials and residents. He is well known among a number of communities within the village, such as sports leagues, schools and businesses, he said, and is familiar with residents’ concerns.

Howard said she would work on a new initiative to streamline village communications, and ensure that residents can access information easily on the village website as well as on social media.

Both candidates addressed concerns about overdevelopment in the village and residents’ desire to maintain what they describe as its charming appearance. “I think we have to stick to our building codes, and not bend those rules to put more and more houses on these properties,” Scalere said. “If a house comes down and you’re able to build two, you shouldn’t put six houses there.”

Howard noted that she was helping the village unify signage and the appearance of the downtown shopping district to reflect the character of the rest of the village.

Before she ran for office, Howard worked in management, development and communications, evaluating productivity at Salomon Brothers, an investment bank in Manhattan. She stepped away to raise her children, which was when she got involved in community leadership — first in the schools, and then in the village.

She pointed to her six years of experience on the village board as her top qualification, and said she had learned the ins and outs of how to “get things done.”

Scalere’s mother, Florence, who still lives in the village, owned Long Island Bed and Brass, on Sunrise Highway, for 20 years. Michael’s experience as a television producer, he said, has given him the budgeting skills needed for a village position.

“I know a lot of people in town,” he said, “I know budgets, where to spend and where we can save.”

Voting will take place Sept. 15, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., at the John A. Anderson Recreation Center. Residents can also request an absentee ballot by Sept. 14.