John Popeleski’s inauguration as Manorhaven’s mayor marked a new era for the village on Wednesday night.
The village’s political landscape shifted after the People’s Working Party’s electoral victories. The only board member to remain in their previous post is trustee Harry Farina.
Popeleski and Vincent Costa have moved up from trustees to the mayorship and deputy mayorship. Trustees Monica Ildefonso and Khristine Shahipour are also new additions.
“It feels good considering all the mud — see what happens to mud?” said Popeleski. “It was like somebody said to me: play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
The election season was contentious, with Popeleski calling a $5,000 fine imposed by the village’s ethics board an “intricate scheme” by Avena. Yet, he commended him for his advice and guidance at the latest board meeting.
Popeleski, Farina and Ildefonso were all sworn in for two-year terms. Costa and Shahipour received one-year terms.
The new board discussed appointments in a meeting that Popeleski said lasted almost three hours.
“[We wanted] more people with a little more construction background and things like that,” he said. “We didn’t just appoint Mary Jane on the corner, you know? What does she know about building a building or anything like that? It has to make sense.”
Popeleski said he met Shahipour during a People’s Working Party candidate picnic. When chatting, he saw her as someone with a positive attitude who would benefit the village.
“We started talking and one thing led to another and I was like, ‘You know what? I like her,’” said Popeleski. “She has a lot to offer that makes sense.”
Shahipour shared similar views. In addition, she said that Popeleski is a man of integrity and honor — that was important to her.
“I’m very involved with the community and we hit it off very nicely,” she said. “I’m honored to be serving as a trustee.”
Along with Ildefonso, they want to empower the Spanish-speaking community of Manorhaven.
“A lot of the population is Spanish-speaking and some people don’t participate because they don’t speak English,” said Ildefonso. “So we really need to help.”
Both of them speak Spanish and English. In Manorhaven, over a quarter of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino.
“You make their voices heard because they’re shy, they’re timid and they don’t feel confident,” said Shahipour. “Just by speaking to them and seeing what their concerns are, we can bring it here and make a change.”
The positions of marriage officer, records manager and village clerk-treasurer were given to Sharon Abramski. The board appointed Alexander Kovacevic as assistant record manager and deputy clerk-treasurer and Genevieve LoPresti as the village attorney.
Frank Ottaviani, Michael Masiello and Eugene Bowler were each named chairman of the Board of Zoning, Planning Board and Architectural Review Board.
The board appointed Brian Meyerson and William Jaye as village prosecutors, Dwight Kennedy as an alternate prosecutor and Ronnie Shatzkamer as associate village justice.
The next board of trustees meeting will be on July 27 at 6:30 p.m. in Village Hall.