1. What’s your favorite memory of growing up in the village?
Westbury was a wonderful place to grow up, and I have a lot of great memories growing up. Some of my fondest memories are of playing with my friends, all day until dark without a worry about what we were doing, our safety or other concerns. I remember the wonderful little league parades we had on Post Avenue and the excitement of the start of each new baseball season.
2. What are your favorite places to spend time in the village?
I love the Piazza Ernesto Strada on Post Avenue. I am proud to have been on the board when it was created. But it was Ernie Strada’s idea (and that’s why we named it after him once he left office). It is such a great space for our residents to enjoy, in so many different ways, including the summer concert series that takes place there, and now the Farmers Market that the Arts Council puts on. Another one of my favorite places in the village is the Children’s Library. There are very few places for kids anywhere that can spark the imagination and encourage young kids to read as the Children’s Library. It is still very much like it was when I was growing up, but modernized and changed for today’s technologies and interests. It is really a special place.
3. What are your hobbies?
One of my hobbies is traveling. I love to go different places here in the U.S. (the national parks are really great) and abroad. I also like to watch just about any sporting event, but college basketball is my favorite, especially St. John’s, my alma mater. Of course, I call being mayor my biggest hobby.
4. In addition to your work as mayor, you’re a practicing attorney. What made you pursue that career path?
I thought at one time about becoming a priest, but figured I wouldn’t make a very good one. So, I wanted to do something that would allow me to help people in another way. I love the law and the idea of lawmaking.
5. What’s the most satisfying part of your job as mayor?
I like being in a position to directly affect the community, and to solve resident problems. As mayor of a relatively small community, it is very easy to perceive what the residents are concerned about, and you are directly accessible. Being mayor is not a ceremonial position, and residents, many of whom knew me as a young boy, have issues and problems that they hope you can solve. It is very satisfying to be in a position to advocate for them and to get solutions. It is a unique experience and privilege to be the mayor in the community in which you grew up, and it brings a deep sense of responsibility to me and what I try to do as mayor.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
There are many, but I think the most important was from my mother who always urged me to be open minded and accepting of people and ideas. Her advice has stood me well. Also, governmentally, Ernie Strada told me that, as mayor, it is important that you always listen to the concerns and needs of the residents, and that is something that I have always tried to do.
I have been blessed to have had a lot of people influence my life, in different ways and different areas. Ernie Strada and Charlie Fuschillo were mostly responsible for my participation in politics and government. Father Arthur Anderson was a priest who taught me in high school and served at St. Brigid on weekends, and was very influential to my spiritual and philosophical formation. Of course, my parents gave me a set of values and a way of looking at the world that was very important to me. But, probably the most influential person in my life has been my wife Diane. I would not be the person I am today, in almost any respect, without her love, guidance and advice.
8. What is one cause you feel passionate about?
I feel passionate about a lot of things (some people say sometimes too passionate). But, I believe that passion in life is important and allows you to pursue things and ideas with urgency and vigor, and is what makes the biggest impact on our communities and world. Aside from my family, I think I’m most passionate about my duties and responsibilities as mayor; making Westbury the best it can be and a community for the future that is sustainable, vibrant, successful, welcoming and attractive. Achieving those things, above all else, drives me. I will defend and stand up for Westbury, in the face of anything or anyone, if I believe it or they would bring harm to our community.
9. What’s something most residents might not know about you?
I think that residents may not know that I dislike public speaking. It is a big part of the job, but I have never been comfortable with it. I have worked really hard to get better, because it is so important to be able to effectively communicate with your constituents and residents.
10. What’s one thing on your bucket list?
My bucket list is so long that I need a few buckets. Top on the list is to continue to travel to many new places. And, Village Clerk Ted Blach has added to my list (against my will) that, if I serve as mayor for a certain period of time, I have to go sky-diving with him. I am fairly confident that my term won’t extend long enough to have to make good on that, but it is there.