Meeting up with former Glen Cove Mayor, Reginald Spinello, seeking re-election this November 5th, he recalled how he first became involved in politics.
“I had a very successful business career and retired somewhat young,” said Mr. Spinello, who told me to call him Reggie when he sat down for an interview. “After thinking about what I wanted to do for my next career, I decided to give back to the city I love, Glen Cove.”
A political neophyte, who didn’t know his way around politics, Spinello understood that smart financial planning was at the core of running a city. “I never expected to start off by running for mayor,” recalls Spinello. “I had always thought about first dipping my toe into the water to see if government was right for me. Being a quick learner with the right skills, I figured that I’d catch on fast. What I learned after my first campaign was that I should have gone with my initial instincts.”
Reggie lost the race and took some time off to think about it. A few years later, he re-considered entering politics, but this time he ran for a city council seat. Relying on the knowledge he acquired in his loss, he was better able to prepare for the campaign, and won easily in 2011.
As a councilman, Reggie’s financial savvy was evident, and after a few years on the job, he was once again inspired to run for mayor. “Responsible financial planning was something that I excelled at in business,” said Spinello. “Based on Glen Cove’s dismal financial situation at the time, I decided that I was ready to put my skills to work for our great city.” Reggie, a registered Independent, at the time was endorsed by the Republican, Independent and Conservative parties. “My campaign strategy then, as it is today, was based on getting voters to understand that the city’s financial situation was bad, and getting worse, and that I could fix it. Glen Cove voters agreed and elected me mayor.”
Toward the end of Reggie’s first two-year term, an article ran in Newsday citing NYS Comptroller Tom Napoli recognizing the city for taking positive financial actions that helped them move two steps up in the annual fiscal stress test. In 2016 after a report state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Mayor Spinello said in a statement that the report was “based on a three-year look back,” adding: “The city’s financial picture has improved dramatically over the past two-years with two upgrades from Moody’s Investors Service and surpluses on the last two budgets.” Reggie feels that Glen Cove’s financial condition is declining again under the current mayor.
A self-described “get-it-done-right” type of person, Reggie is proudest of his role as a loving husband, father, son, and brother; a person of faith, and an animal lover. “When I was mayor, I funded the first no-leash Dog Park,” said Spinello, “My buddy Cooper enjoys it and I’ve met a number of nice people there.”
Reggie also admits that finally closing the Garvies Point waterfront deal, made him a target for activists, smears, and lawsuits (all of which that have been dismissed or thrown out). “Some people may have believed the lies and decided not to vote, but here are the facts,” noted Spinello. “For years, every mayor has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the waterfront for re-development.
“The waterfront experience showed me why so many politicians, including our current mayor, kick the can down the road, rather than do something to fix the problem,” Spinello laughed.
The Garvies Point waterfront development will transform a piece of property that was generating only debt, into an oasis that has already started to generate new revenue, and will continue to generate millions more for the city, the schools, the library, and the county for years to come. The developer, RXR and/or the Homeowners’ Association will be responsible for maintaining all the public spaces in perpetuity. All residents of Glen Cove will be able to use these amenities, at no cost to them. Reggie also closed the deal on the redevelopment of Glen Cove’s Village Square.
“I’m not a proponent of doing nothing, especially when there is work to be done,” adds Spinello. “When we were trying to make the waterfront deal a reality, the small, but loud opposition used scare tactics to suggest massive traffic jams, while claiming that we gave the land away. In reality, you can’t begin a large project like that without getting clearance from independent traffic monitoring agencies,” added Spinello. “They reported that increased traffic will be minimal.”
We asked Reggie what he could do better in his current campaign to connect with the voters. He recalled a recent exchange that he had with a city worker, who he ran into.“He said Reggie, if you smiled more, you’d never be voted out of office. It was good advice” added Reggie. “Being mayor and taking bold, but responsible steps to rescue a city from financial mismanagement, while dealing with some people can take the smile off your face.”
Reggie insists that won’t happen in his 2019 effort to be re-elected.