Ever since East Williston trustee and Williston Park attorney James Iannone became village trustee in 2015, his love and fondness for East Williston has grown tenfold.
“Since I moved to East Williston, I became very involved in the village,” said Iannone. “I’m a volunteer fireman for approximately eight years now. I have three children who are in each of the East Williston schools. I have a daughter in Wheatley, my son is in Willets Road and my youngest is in kindergarten at North Side. I’ve lived in East Williston for almost 10 years now. My wife and I moved there in 2009. My wife grew up in East Williston and her family still lives in East Williston.”
Iannone, who has been a practicing attorney for more than 20 years, has always enjoyed the art of debating and arguing.
“To be honest I was drawn to watching legal movies and reading legal books and I became interested in law,” explained Iannone. “I studied political science in college and majored in that. I guess that was my jumping point to go to law school.”
After moving to the Village of East Williston, that was when Iannone got civically involved.
“I like my neighbors and I really love my community, and thought that I could use my abilities to help the village with its governance,” he said. “I thought I’d get a lot of satisfaction from leading and trying to assist my neighbors and the residents of East Williston making it the place we live and making it the very best place it can be.”
When asked what he was most proud of about being a part of the village board, Iannone said it was the water agreement resolution between the Village of Williston Park and East Williston.
“When I ran for trustee, we had a long running dispute that was in the courts against Williston Park,” explained Iannone. “Williston Park had started to raise East Williston’s rates and changed its designation of East Williston from a wholesale customer to a retail customer, causing our rates to go much higher and much quicker. When I ran for the board, we were in a lawsuit with Williston Park. We were looking into building a new water system and I reached out to a trustee in Williston Park and tried to reinvigorate negotiations and we worked on an agreement that I think ultimately benefitted both communities. I did that in conjunction with my fellow board members. It wasn’t solely me.”
At first, the board worked together and had their fair share of disagreements, and eventually thought about building their own water plant.
“Ultimately, I thought that was unfeasible given the size of our village and the uncertainty about if we would get requisite authority to build our water plant in the only location where it could be built, which would have been across the Village Green,” explained Iannone. “That would involve the annihilation of parkland, which we would have needed state approval for. Also the residents of the Wheatley House Condominiums were very upset about the prospect of having that put there and there was a possibility of further litigation. In the interim, our water rates would have been at the mercy of Williston Park—without a contract—for them to raise our rates to whatever they saw fit…I would say that was probably the thing that I am most proud of, but I’m proud of a lot of things that we’ve done.”
According to Iannone, the board has also addressed the risk concerns about security within the village while having a good outreach toward neighbors by being approachable.
“I think that the tenor of the way we conduct ourselves is something I’m proud of as well,” he said.
For his overall vision for the Village of East Williston, one thing Iannone said he would like to see change is more civic involvement. One of the things that drew Iannone to live in East Williston was the unique things that the village does for its residents.
“We have a Memorial Day race, we have an Operation Santa that the fire department collects toys for,” said Iannone. “We engage our residents to make a donation of a toy and in turn we will deliver a toy to a child at their house on Christmas Eve. I believe we are the only village on Christmas Eve that still does that. Others do it, I just don’t think they do it on Christmas Eve, but we do.”
The village also has a Recreation Committee, a Ragamuffin Parade on Halloween for young children as well as various other events on the Village Green.
“These are the things that I’d like, I guess, to focus more on and try to engage even more of our neighbors because, we keep attracting new residents, which is great,” Iannone explained. “I’d like to try and see, and encourage as many new residents to become civically involved in the community so we don’t lose that feeling that makes East Williston special.”
Overall, Iannone said that he’s very proud of East Williston and the community.
“It’s a beautiful community and I’m happy to be raising my family here,” said Iannone. “I work in Williston Park since my practice is there so this is truly home for me. I work less than two miles from my house. I really care about the community and I’ve spent almost all of my time here, and I’d like to continue the opportunity to do so and serve another four years as trustee.”
The village election will be held on Tuesday, March 19, from noon to 9 p.m. at village hall, which is located at 2 Prospect St.