In the wake of a heated mayoral election, the Lynbrook village board reorganized at its April 1 meeting, with Mayor Alan Beach naming Trustee Michael Hawxhurst the new deputy mayor.
The seat was previously occupied by Trustee Hilary Becker, who ran against Beach in a contentious race and lost to him in the March 19 election.
“He’s the right man for the job,” Beach said of Hawxhurst. “He’s honest, and he’s a loyal, good man and very knowledgeable.” Beach declined to specify why he did not reappoint Becker, but noted that it was “for obvious reasons.”
Hawxhurst, 51, has been on the village board since 2009. He graduated from the State University at Albany with a degree in accounting, and earned a master’s in taxation from St. John’s University. He is an internal auditor by profession. Beach said that his knowledge of finance will be helpful to village officials during budget season.
Although Hawxhurst acknowledged feeling somewhat awkward about taking Becker’s place, he did not hesitate when Beach asked him to become deputy mayor.
“It’s an honor for Alan to think of me like that and make that appointment,” Hawxhurst said. “We’ve worked together for the 10 years we’ve been on the board, and have grown a strong friendship and appreciation and respect of each other. I think with the way the election went down, the trust between Alan and Hilary is just not there anymore, and that’s going to take some time to build up again.”
Hawxhurst has been active in the Lynbrook community over the years. He serves on the Citizen’s Budget Committee, the Lynbrook School Board Building Utilization Committee and the Winter Celebration Committee, which organizes the village’s Breakfast with Santa event and the holiday tree and menorah lightings, and is an organizer of Lynbrook’s summer swim team. He is also a member of St. Mary’s Council of Knights of Columbus and Our Lady of Peace Parish, and has been an assistant coach for Lynbrook Titans lacrosse and the St. Raymond’s CYO swim team.
Despite the tumult on the board, Hawxhurst said he believed that trustees could work together going forward. “Everybody will do what’s best for Lynbrook,” he said. “Regardless of trust and feelings of the election, when you look at projects and opportunities for the village, at the end of the day, you put your personal views aside and do what’s best for this village.”
Hawxhurst said that there are many goals for the board, including holding the line on taxes this budget season and increasing exemption income limits for seniors, as well as completing the Greis Park Master Plan. A meeting with the Colorado-based GreenPlay LLC — the company tasked with developing the plan — is scheduled for April 22 at Village Hall. Hawxhurst added that officials have lowered the cost for Greis Park Pre-school and are in negotiations to develop the Mangrove Feather factory and facilitate the sale of the controversial Capri Lynbrook Motor Inn.
Becker, who served as deputy mayor for 16 months and will remain a trustee, said he was not informed of Beach’s decision to appoint Hawxhurst beforehand, but added that he was not surprised. He went on to say that he thought Hawxhurst was a good fit for the role.
“He’s certainly a qualified person,” Becker said, “and I look forward to working with him and the rest of the board, and making sure we do what’s best for the village and certainly keep everybody in the loop with things.”
Though Becker and his Preserve Lynbrook Party — trustee challengers Antoniella Tavella and Steve Ligouri — lost to Beach and incumbent Trustees Ann Marie Reardon and Robert Boccio, an attorney representing the party has filed a Freedom of Information request seeking all documents related to the election.
Freeport Village Attorney Howard Colton, a Democrat, recently submitted the request to Lynbrook Village Clerk John Giordano. Colton is seeking copies of all ballots cast in the election, all tapes and receipts from voting machines, all files that show photos of each ballot cast, a list of all those who voted and a list of all employees who worked at the Greis Park Recreation Center polling place on Election Day.
Becker said he did not ask Colton to file the request, and added that he was unsure who did. Calls to Colton were not returned at press time.
Beach defeated Becker, 3,330 votes to 974, on Election Day, according to the village.
Hawxhurst said the request was a “waste of taxpayers’ money” because the election was not close. Beach declined to comment.
At the April 5 meeting, Beach was sworn in as mayor by his sons, Alan and Gregory. “It was an honor to have them do it for me,” he said. “I couldn’t think of anyone better to do it.”