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Reiter expected to be elected fire commissioner

With no opposition, it’s anticipated Fire Chief Anthony Reiter will be elected to the Shelter Island Fire District Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.

Voters can cast ballots at the Center Firehouse between 6 and 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13.

Even though he is running unopposed, Mr. Reiter said he is still out campaigning to secure his election.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Reiter said he wants to keep the Fire Department and Fire District moving forward on the same track, serving the community he loves.

Mr. Reiter joined the department in 2008 and joined the chief’s line four years later. He has served two terms as chief.

For many years, there has been little turnover in commissioners but last year, long-time commissioner Larry Lechmanski stepped down and Hap Bowditch was his hand-picked choice to succeed him. This year, another long-time commissioner, Richard Surozenski, opted not to seek re-election, opening the post to a newcomer. Earlier, Andy Steinmuller opted to step away as a commissioner after many years, although into his 90s, he could still be seen directing traffic to clear the roadway for firetrucks responding to emergencies. Mr. Steinmuller died in October 2020.

Mr. Reiter is poised to join the five-member Board of Commissioners with  Keith Clark, Andy Reeve, Greg Sulahian and Mr. Bowditch.

As for those who have left, Mr. Reiter said he hopes they know how much he respects them all and the service they have given through the years.

A major goal he has is to maintain a volunteer Fire Department and that means attracting more young firefighters who can tackle the hard work the work demands.

“I just want to keep the legacy of the Shelter Island Fire Department going for the next 30, 40 or 50 years,” he said. He wants his young sons, Lucas and Anthony, to inherit the same volunteer department he has known.

He pointed out service to the community is a legacy he inherited from other Reiter family members as the son, grandson and nephew of other Reiter family members who have been volunteer firefighters.

His wife, Crystal, a granddaughter of the former commissioner, Andy Steinmuller, also comes from a family of volunteers.

Without her support Mr. Reiter said he could never have handled the demands of being chief and wouldn’t be able to consider becoming a commissioner.

Although he will be resigning as Department Chief after the election, he plans to remain an active firefighter.

He believes that he and Mr. Sulahian, who served together in the line of chiefs, can continue to be instrumental in identifying equipment important to the safety and effectiveness of firefighters.

His contacts with vendors during his years as chief he hopes can be useful in identifying equipment needed and negotiating best possible prices.

As chief, he has worked closely with Amber Brach-Williams, the Fire District’s treasurer, and Mike Johnson, commission secretary and district fire marshal. He believes those relationships he treasures will help make his time as a commissioner effective.

Another area important to him is to work to open communications with the public by making monthly meetings more accessible. The commissioners generally meet on the fourth Monday of the month. But unless people are able to attend in person, they have little idea of what the Board is doing, he said.

He wants to work with town officials to provide meetings virtually as town boards and committees do, he said.