12/11/13 1:10pm
JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | John Beresky in front of the Center Firehouse.

JO ANN KIRKLAND PHOTO | John Beresky in front of the Center Firehouse.

To the Editor:

I would like to thank everyone who came out and voted in the fire commissioner election.  It was nice to see 214 votes, up from about 120 last year I believe.

Those who voted for me, I say thank very much and the fight continues.

I’m gonna keep on doing what I do.  It’s very hard to go against the machine that’s been running for many years.  I realize that.

But I’m sure some would say it was nice to have a choice, even if I was the (gasp!) outsider.


12/10/13 9:30pm
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Shelter Island fire commissioner candidates (l-r) John Beresky and incumbent Andy Steinmuller just after the vote was tallied and announced Tuesday night at Center Firehouse.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Candidates (l-r) John Beresky and incumbent Andy Steinmuller just after the vote was tallied and announced Tuesday night at Center Firehouse.

The election results are in, and incumbent Andy Steinmuller has handily defeated John Beresky in the two-man race for a seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners.

The final tally was 153 to 61, good for 71 percent of the vote for Mr. Steinmuller, the board’s current chairman.

He has served for 18 years and on Tuesday night earned another five-year term.

Mr. Beresky is a two-year Shelter Island Fire Department member and full-time NYC firefighter. He was making his second successive effort to wrest a seat on the Board of Fire Commissioners.

Last year, Mr. Beresky got into the running late and had to mount a write-in campaign against sitting commissioners Andy Reeve and Richard Surozenski.

He got 35 votes in the at-large race, versus Mr. Reeve’s 90 and Mr. Surozenski’s 70 votes. In the end, the 35 write-in votes were discounted because poll watchers determined they were placed in the wrong place on the ballot.

Pick up Thursday’s newspaper for a full account of election night.

[email protected]

10/29/13 3:00pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Elections to the Shelter Island Board of Fire Commissioners will take place December 10.

Andy Steinmuller, who is currently chairman of the Shelter Island Board of Fire Commissioners, announced Monday night he will seek another five-year term as a commissioner. But he won’t be running unopposed as he did in 2008.

John Beresky, 40, who made a bid for a seat last year with a write-in campaign, said Tuesday morning he is “definitely running” this year and will file the paper work necessary to put his name on the ballot. Mr. Beresky is also a New York City firefighter in his second year as a member of the Shelter Island Fire Department.

Last year’s election results were muddied by charges that 35 votes that would have gone to Mr. Beresky were voided because people wrote his name in the wrong place on the paper ballot. The result was 95 votes for incumbent Andy Reeve and 70 votes for incumbent Richard Surozenski.

Mr. Beresky was credited with 35 votes. As was the case last year, Mr. Beresky said his candidacy is based on ensuring that Shelter Island firefighters are adhering to rules critical to their safety.

Mr. Steinmuller has 60 years as a firefighter, the first 20 with the Bethpage Fire Department before he and his family began vacationing on Shelter Island 40 years ago. He is completing his 15th year as a commissioner.

The election takes place on Tuesday, December 10, and candidates have until 20 days prior to the election to file their intent to seek a commissioner’s seat.

All registered voters who have residency here for at least 30 days prior to the election are eligible to cast ballots.

Fire Commissioners formally approved their 2014 budget Monday night that calls for total appropriations of $834, of which $795,470 is to be raised from taxes. Taxpayers will see a drop in their bills in 2014, according to District Treasurer Amber Williams. Those whose properties are assessed at $640,000 will see a 99 cent cut in that tax bill that has been $176.32. Those whose properties are assessed at $1 million will see a $1.50 drop in their tax bill bringing that bill to $273.95.

With Jackie Tuttle’s retirement as secretary of the fire district after 25 years, commissioners are interviewing candidates to replace her, Mr. Steinmuller said. They hope to name a replacement by the end of November who could work with Ms. Tuthill during December to provide a smooth transition, Mr. Steinmuller said.

The job is being expanded to include some record keeping that goes beyond providing minutes of commissioners’ meetings and handling correspondence.

Ms. Tuttle, who said she first accepted the job not knowing it was a paid position, earned $8,400 this year. Her successor will be earning $8,600.

12/17/12 2:13pm

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | A contested election for fire commissioners looms as a result of a strong write-in bid by John Beresky.

The Shelter Island firefighter who is contesting last week’s commissioner elections challenged residents to attend meetings and learn about the issues confronting the department.

John Beresky, a 39-year-old New York City firefighter who joined the Shelter Island Fire Department last year, said in a letter to the editor to be published in Thursday’s paper that he thinks  that 123 people voted in the December 11 election instead of the usual 30 is positive and more people should run for commissioner seats and get involved with the fire district.

“I wish more people ran and more residents voted,” Mr. Beresky wrote.

In his letter he again raised the issue that concerned him and others in the department that about 35 voided ballots were discounted because he said people were confused by the ballots.

“Many ballots were voided because they had been filled out incorrectly,” Mr. Beresky wrote.  Ballots should not be so confusing to voters, he said.

“For the voters who came out in high numbers this time, I have to question the validity of the vote,” he wrote.

He reiterated that his late run for a commissioner’s post wasn’t “a personal attack on anyone” and said he likes both Richard Surozenski and Andy Reeve, the two incumbents who won 70 and 95 votes respectively, to Mr. Beresky’s  29 write-in votes. But if all 35 voided ballots were for Mr. Beresky, he would have tallied 64 votes — still not enough to topple the incumbents.

Mr. Beresky said the reason he’s challenging the outcome isn’t because he expects to win. He wants to assure that voting is easy and clear in future elections, he said.

“Once again, this isn’t personal towards anyone; I’m questioning the system in place,” he wrote.

Some department members said there’s a conflict of interest, since elections are overseen by employees hired by the sitting commissioners. Those employees are making decisions such as which ballots are counted and which voided, the members said..

Mr. Beresky failed to get his name on the ballot that would have avoided a write-in campaign because he was unaware of the November 21cutoff date.

Talking to the Reporter last week, Mr. Beresky said he ran because he has concerns about safety.

“The guys on the Island are really good and I want everyone to be really safe,” he said.

The fire commissioners meet at the Center Firehouse tonight at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

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