Jericho Set For Fire Commish Vote

The Jericho Fire Department holds a special fire commissioner election Dec. 8.

Jericho residents will answer the call in a special election for Jericho Fire Commissioner on Dec. 8.

As incumbent Artie Kroll steps down after more than 35 years of service to the community and more than 50 years in the Jericho Fire Department, four candidates—David Munafo, Paolo Pironi, Frank Sammartano and Bob Betman—are throwing their helmets into the ring for the vacant spot on the board of commissioners. Fire Commissioner Theodore Ketsoglou, who will be elevated to the chairman’s post in 2016, said it’s odd for four candidates to vie for the same position.

“We have a vacant spot, so it is very active and crazy. But it is out of the ordinary,” said Ketsoglou. “Artie Kroll is very well respected and if he was running as an incumbent, he wouldn’t have any competition.”

Ketsoglou, who’s up for reelection as chairman next year, said the open position requires someone with good business background, as well as fire knowledge and experience in the fire department.

“The top thing for a commissioner is business,” he said. “The commissioner’s role is business manager and that means managing the chiefs, money management and managing the day to day operations of the facilities.”

The four candidates for commissioner bring varying years of experience to the position, but they all share robust business backgrounds necessary for the job. The candidates agree the board is in good shape and they are only running because the vacated spot provides an opportunity to dedicate themselves to the Jericho community on a higher level.

Munafo was the commissioner for 10 years before stepping down to build a small business into a successful venture. With that up and running, he feels now is the time to get back onto the board and work with current members while also bringing new, fiscally responsible ideas.

“In this position, you are essentially working with someone else’s money. In this case, it’s the community’s money,” said Munafo, who has worked in fire service for 41 years. “I understand the ramifications of that. That money must be treated as carefully as possible.”

At 28 years old, Pironi is the youngest of the candidates and currently serves as the CFO of his family-owned construction firm, Pironi Homes. He said the position allows him the unique opportunity to work in conjunction with accountants, lawyers and other businesspeople.

“I love community service and I’ve been doing it all my life,” said Pironi, who is going on his ninth year with the JFD. “I have a lot of younger connections in the neighborhood and that could help with new recruitments.”

In his push for commissioner, Betman said his main drive is to serve the Jericho community in the most financially responsible way possible. A CEO of his own company and insurance executive, Betman said his business acumen puts him in a position to be entrusted with the budgetary responsibilities of the job.

“Jericho has the most state of the art and advanced training and equipment available. There is no skimping on that,” he said. “I’m not looking to butt heads with the board, I want to give back more than I can as a volunteer firefighter and the commissioner position is a great opportunity for that.”

Sammartano joined the fire department in 1986, eventually moving up the ranks to captain. Now an ex-captain, Sammartano works with the Town of Oyster Bay in inter-governmental affairs and has serves as commissioner of the parks department.

“I bring background as a manager and a leader making fiscally sound judgments,” he said, adding that he holds former commissioner Kroll in high regard. “This is the public’s money and you have to make sure you are buying the right stuff and not overspending. Making sure the department has the best equipment is probably the most important job. But everything is important.”

The election will be held Dec. 8 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Jericho Fire headquarters, 424 North Broadway in Jericho.


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Steve Mosco, former editor-in-chief at Anton Media Group, is a columnist for Long Island Weekly's food and sports sections. He fancies himself a tastemaker, food influencer and king of all eaters.

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