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Franklin Square gets new fire commissioner, Elmont incumbent re-elected

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Chris Howard, a seven-year member of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department, defeated incumbent Chris Gioia in the Franklin Square fire commissioners race on Tuesday, while Elmont Fire Commissioner Joseph Balletta retained his seat.

“I’m very proud to serve my community and firemen with dignity and 100 percent commitment,” Howard said, after receiving 340 votes to Gioia’s 290. “For a year with extreme ups and downs, this really ended on a high note for me.”

Howard has lived in Franklin Square for 35 years, and has served as an emergency medical technician for 25 and as the chief of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department from 2007 - 2012. 

As commissioner, Howard previously told the Herald, he would like to grow the department’s membership and boost morale, while also retaining the department’s current membership. There are only about 100 active members of the Franklin Square and Munson Fire Department, he explained, and new recruits are required to respond to a certain number of calls while also attending classes at the Nassau County Fire Services Academy twice a week.

“We have to make certain changes to continue to do what we do,” Howard said, adding that he would give 110 percent of his time and effort to accomplishing his goals.

In Elmont, meanwhile, incumbent Joseph Balletta will serve another five-year term on the fire commissioners board, after defeating challenger Jean Duroseau, 339 to 240.

“I look forward to my next five years looking out for my community and my members,” Balletta said. “I have a job to do and I will continue to do it.”

Balletta has been an active member of the Elmont Fire Department for 33 years, serving as the chief for three and a half, and serving on the fire commissioners board for 15. He is also the fire department’s treasurer.

“I like helping out,” Balletta previously told the Herald. “That’s all I want to do is help out.”

During his time on the fire commissioners board, Balletta said, the Elmont Fire District has purchased new portable radios, kept the budget in check and “never held back on training” for its recruits. Now that he is re-elected, he said, he would like to make the training tower more challenging for the volunteer firefighters, look into getting a dispatcher for the Elmont community and would continue to fight with the Water Authority of Western Nassau County to lower rental fees on the fire hydrants.

“I’m fighting for myself, my neighbors and my friends across the community,” Balletta said, noting that after 15 years on the Elmont fire commissioners board, “I think I gained enough knowledge to continue to help the community.”