Southold’s Zoning Board of Appeals member James Dinizio of Greenport was appointed by a unanimous vote Tuesday night by members of the Southold Town Board to fill the vacant seat left by Al Krupski, who won the seat for Suffolk County Legislator last month.
Current Councilman William Ruland was also appointed as Southold Town Deputy Supervisor, also taking Krupski’s place, at the Tuesday meeting.
Dinizio, a registered Conservative, has run for Town Board twice in the past unsuccessfully but has served twice on the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, once appointed in 2004 and again in 2007. He has to leave the seat on that board to accept this position — one that he wants to focus on a friendlier attitude toward businesses and government in town, he said.
“Any business person who walks into town hall hears two different languages,” he said. “I’d like to hear one language myself and see some smiling faces at the counter.”
The only board member to comment on the roll-call vote was Louisa Evans of Fishers Island, who said that she actually would have liked the seat to remain vacant until election time.
“Originally we thought we could do that legally, but we have to fill it, so I vote yes,” she said.
Southold Democratic Chairman Art Tillman also said at the meeting that he still felt the process of selecting a candidate via a Republican Committee Screening was wrong.
“The only screening that should have taken place was by a committee from the Town Board,” Tillman said. “We just felt we were playing with a stacked deck and we hope it does not happen again if a future vacancy should occur.”
Russell responded that the influence of political parties are a reality in the screening process — “but do they make the decision? No. Do they guide the decision? Yes,” he said. “And at the end of the day, we did not appoint a Republican.”
Russell also said that appointing “someone who has no hope of running” is pointless and the board was looking for someone with a 50/50 shot of getting nominated in June. Councilman Chris Talbot said that he would have felt uncomfortable as a Republican facing Democrat-only screening.
“I’d take issues with it as well,” Talbot told Tillman.
“I’ve always liked Jim, but it’s not him we object to — it’s the process you chose,” Tillman said.
What do you think? Is Jim Dinizio the right choice and was the process fair? Tell us in the comments.
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