An “Honest FranK” poster alerted this reporter of a meeting where those who were in the running for the positions of Village Trustees and the Mayor of the newly incorporated VIllage of Mastic Beach were going to meet and greet, to be held Monday, October 18th at “Honest Frank” Cucchiara’s home. Frank wasn’t there when we arrived, and neither were any of the nominees.
A fast call to Frank yielded even more important information: not one of the prospective candidates came by, and only one individual showed up to see what was going on. Frank had left to get more signatures at a local gas station. Additionally and more importantly, he reported that petitioning for the Trustee and Mayoral election was to be closed at five o’clock at the clerk’s office, former home of the “Friends of Mastic Beach” office, now home to the new Village Clerk, Robert B. Debona.
Robert “Bob” Debona was there at four o’clock, manning the office in anticipation of last minute filing of petitions. The office was sparsely decorated with desks, chairs, and a fax. It looked like H & R Block might move in, except for the giant neon green Century 21 sign that blared “FOR LEASE” and overshadowed the small “Village Clerk” sign that was taped to the door. Passers-by did not even cast an eye at the office, and it is entirely possible that only the perspective nominees knew of the deadline. A copy of the “Notice of Public Election” was prominently posted at the nearby Handy Pantry, but no one seemed interested in reading it. The street was quiet except for the busy gas station nearby.
When asked about the due date for submission of petitions and the actual date of the election, Mr. Debona replied: “I’m required to post it in six different places; one is in a newspaper.” When asked which one, he replied “The South Shore Press”. There was a Village Clerk’s Calendar posted on the glass near the front door. No copies of it were available. The date of the election was set on the calendar for November 22nd, 2010. This reporter also asked if she could get a list of the nominees, but for the list to become public, the clerk must wait for approval from the Board of Elections. According to the calendar, the last day for the clerk to publish a notice of those who were properly nominated is November 12th, 2010. October 19th is the date set for submission of written objections to the Independent Nominating Petitions, and specifications of those objections are due on October 21st, 2010.
The countdown clock was racing with only ten minutes to spare when a group arrived at the office, and submitted several petitions. When asked if any of them were prospective candidates, they all said “No.” Among them were Victor Zeleny and several members of the Mastic beach Property Owners Association. None were interested in commenting. One man seemed curiously befuddled, and ran back to his car to see if he had not forgotten to bring some petitions. The group who had previously left stood near the local Bait and Tackle store, discussing politics and jovially waiting to see what happened.
During the last five minutes, “Honest Frank” Cucchiara pulled up in his station wagon and entered the clerk’s office. When asked if he got all the signatures he needed, Frank replied, “I think I need an extension.” He also added the he wasn’t sure if he could get one, but would try. A few minutes later, the man who had possibly forgotten some petition forms came out, stating that “He wasn’t sure if he’d gotten in.” He was not interested in commenting. Frank left too; he was told that he needed 100 valid signatures and he didn’t think he had them. Upon looking over his paperwork it seemed that he had at least 50, maybe more. He stated that the clerk was going to ask the Board of Elections of he could get an extension, especially due to the fact that he is a disabled person with ADHD.
It remains to be seen who submitted the proper number of signatures and when the Board of Elections will allow the clerk to release the information.
Reporting by Amanda Rust.