Mirabile, Wendling set to square off for GCP Fire and Water District commissioner

Mirabile, Wendling set to square off for GCP Fire and Water District commissioner
(left to right) Rob Mirabile and Joe Wendling are running for Garden City Park Fire and Water District commissioner. (Photos courtesy of the candidates)

The Garden City Park Fire and Water district will have a new commissioner after next Tuesday’s election with Rob Mirabile and Joe Wendling challenging each other for the vacant seat. 

Current commissioner Kenneth Borchers, who has served the district since 2007, is not seeking re-election. 

The district covers parts of Garden City Park, Manhasset Hills, parts of New Hyde Park, parts of Mineola, parts of North Hills, parts of Roslyn, parts of Williston Park, parts of Albertson and parts of Garden City.

Mirabile first became chief of the Garden City Park Fire Department in 1991 when he joined Hillside Heights Engine Co. 3. Professionally, he works with the department of public safety at Adelphi University, operates the food truck Roscoe’s Roadside serving old-fashioned hot dogs and is a content creator on YouTube for Axle’s Garage.

“I’ve held every rank over the years including chief of the department,” said Mirabile in an interview with the New Hyde Park Herald Courier. “I have intimate knowledge of how the board of commissioners interacts with the chiefs and rest of the department.” 

The New Hyde Park native said he wants to give the department the space and resources necessary to do its job. 

“Sometimes I saw that the board would overstep and run the department instead of the chiefs,” Mirabile said. “I feel that the chief who’s elected by the members of the department should be running it and have the board provide resources he or she needs.”

Wendling, a resident of the district for 52 years, said he’s running with the main priorities of safety and responsible spending.

“I will do our best to serve our community, keep our water safe and healthy and prevent both unnecessary expenditures and building in our district,” Wendling said to Blank Slate Media. 

Professionally, Wendling is a private investigator for the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, the same role he held for Herricks over a decade ago. 

Wendling is a former NYPD detective, a position he retired from in 1987 after over 18 years on the police force after having enlisted in the Marines in 1966. On top of his police service, Wendling was previously the director of operations of Mount St. Michael’s Academy in the Bronx 

Wendling said if elected that he has no intention of building on water district grounds that are currently next to the apartments at the Denton Green Housing Complex at 500 Denton Ave. 

Wendling said he has never been brought up on charges in his 31 years as a firefighter, whereas his opponent Mirabile was suspended 30 days for falsifying a document and brought up on charges of insubordination and disobeying an order after 14 years with the department in 2005, which got him expelled at the time.

Mirabile said regarding the charges it is the result of being a highly active member in a volunteer organization.

“If you know anything about the volunteer fire service in general, you’re going to have people who don’t get involved, who don’t seek an officer position and aren’t active firefighters getting involved in leadership roles and day-to-day operations,” Mirabile said. “When you get involved and take those positions, there’s always going to be some drama and controversy over the years involved with it and I think that’s just involvement in the system itself.”

On the water district side, Mirabile said he is focused on keeping water rates low, which the board voted to increase by approximately 60% in recent years. 

When residents go to vote, Mirabile said he has a better understanding of the operations in the district and the endorsements of the current commissioners, Alan Cooper and Peter Chimenti. 

Wendling said he has the support of almost every social group in the district, including veterans and senior groups and is a member of the local Knights of Columbus, New Hyde Park Leisure Club and The Elks.

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