SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A missed deadline may cost one of the longest-serving Long Island politicians his job.
Although Patrick Vecchio was re-elected as Smithtown’s town supervisor and sworn in Jan. 1, the town clerk has declared the office vacant because the state’s longest-serving town supervisor failed to file his written oath of office within 30 days.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the oversight now stands between Vecchio and a 13th term.
“I call it petty politics with a profound impact,” Vecchio told Gusoff.
Town Clerk Vincent Puleo, reached by phone while out of town, insisted his decision to oust Vecchio is not political.
“I feel so bad that this happened, but you have to understand, I can’t say, ‘Well, Supervisor, just sign this, and I’ll put the 30th,'” Puleo said. “I can’t do that. I’d be derelict in my duties.”
Puleo said he was surprised that after 36 years in office, Vecchio, an octogenarian, didn’t know the ropes.
Vecchio said the town clerk has always given him the oath to sign in the past.
“In 12 other elections, town clerks have brough those papers to me,” he said.
The result is a stalemate. Little can get done in Town Hall without a supervisor. There is a special meeting called for Thursday night to appoint Vecchio to the position.
Lynn Nowick’s Town Council position also has been declared vacant because she didn’t file her paperwork in time. While she and Vecchio can both be appointed Thursday, they would have to run for re-election in November.
Residents were split on whether the deadline should be enforced.
“I don’t think signing a paper should matter,” one man told Gusoff. “The people voted him in, and that’s who should be there.”
“I guess he should have gotten it done,” one woman said.
Municipal law expert Paul Sabatino said the filing deadline should not be ignored.
“For over a hundred years, the deadline of 30 days has been adhered to,” Sabatino said. “If you don’t file it within 30 days, on the oath of office, your appointment — by election or by appointment — is null and void.”
Puleo said he shouldn’t be blamed because he took an oath of office, too — to uphold the law.
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