Daylight Saving Time won’t be here until Sunday, but local GOP members are already “springing ahead”…to the fall elections, that is.
The North Salem Republican Town Committee has just tapped a Croton Falls businessman as its candidate for Town Board.
Robert “Bob” Daros, who grew up in the hamlet of Purdys, is the co-owner of Heritage Fuel and Heritage Propane. The North Salem High School graduate is also chairman of the Board of Commissioners for the Croton Falls Fire Department.
Daros couldn’t be reached for comment last week, but several sources—including the GOP committee’s chief William Monti and Town Supervisor Warren J. Lucas—have confirmed that he has been nominated for the post.
The seat that Daros will be seeking in November was captured last year by Republican Thomas J. Moreo. Moreo, after throwing his hat in the ring, subsequently put his North Salem house up for sale and, reportedly, moved his family out of state. Both he and the committee tried to get his name off the ballot but couldn’t for technical reasons.
Although Moreo’s name never appeared on any campaign materials and he made no campaign appearances, he beat Democratic challenger Katherine Daniels, a former school board member and lawyer, by 12 votes. About a month later, Moreo informed the town that not only would he not be taking the oath of office, he was resigning as chairman of the town’s Board of Assessment Review.
That meant the board had to decide whether to choose someone to fill the spot or leave it open until the fall elections.
Democrats naturally hoped that, if filled, that “someone” would be Daniels.
In fact, Daniels said—and Lucas confirmed—that she had been “welcomed” to the board after it became obvious last year that
Moreo, although appearing on the ballot, wasn’t actively running.
Despite calls from certain quarters of the community to make a decision on whether to fill the seat, in February board members said they still had not formally discussed the issue.
Any actual votes on appointments to the town board or other boards and committees must be taken in public.
Resident Andrew Sternlieb has nudged the Town Board on several occasions to be more transparent.
On Tuesday, Feb. 25, one of the Democratic district leaders, Billy Morin, asked the board whether a decision had been made.
Daniels was in the audience, but did not speak.
Lucas responded: “So far we’ve left it open. I don’t know as we’ve come to a final decision. But I think that was the intention at the time.”
At any rate, the supervisor said a few minutes later, “We’re not filling it tonight. I know I had someone call me up to tell me we’re putting somebody in the position, but that’s not something we talked about or intended to do.”
Sternlieb responded, “As long as you’ve raised it, a decision to leave it vacant IS a decision, so announce the decision.”
Deputy Supervisor Peter Kamenstein interjected that no decision had been made.
But Sternlieb was undeterred.
“It doesn’t have to be a vote; inaction is a decision and I would have you consult with your attorney,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Daniels had said she had heard that Daros had accepted the GOP nomination to run in the fall but couldn’t get anyone to confirm or deny it.
Whether it’s Daros or not, anyone appointed to a board would certainly have a “leg up” in any subsequent elections, she said.
While she doesn’t “take it personally,” Daniels said she found the apparent “resistance” to appoint her surprising. She said she would serve if appointed, although that scenario now seems “highly unlikely.”
“I ran for the office; I’m well-qualified. Yes, I want to serve,” she said.
However, Daniels also said she wanted to make it “crystal clear” that she’s not “asking to be appointed anymore.”
“That time has passed,” she said. “I’m simply asking that the seat be left open so that we can have a fair and square election in November.”
Having two Democrats on the five-member board “changes the calculus not one bit. They will still have a GOP majority,” Daniels said Tuesday, referring to claims by some that politics may be in play.
Monti confirmed on Wednesday, Feb. 26, that the NSRTC had nominated Daros.
However, the committee also “believes that Mr. Daros, a registered Republican, should be appointed to fill the now vacant seat which was won by a Republican” last fall, Monti wrote in an email.
What happens next is not up to the committee, he added. “The decision regarding the appointment to the vacant seat is one to be taken by the sitting Town Council.”
Pat Carey, president of the Democratic Club, said Tuesday afternoon that news of the nomination took everyone by surprise.
“We’re hustling to respond,” she admitted.
The general feeling is that leaving the seat open—rather than appointing an interim councilperson—is “more honest,” Carey said.
One way or the other, local Democrats will be facing an uphill battle in a Republican-dominated town. But they don’t plan to give up the fight.
“A show’s a show. Anything can happen in nine months,” Carey said, referring to the time left until the November elections.
They are hopeful that “some things break our way...and they should; it’s our turn.”
In a Thursday, Feb. 27, email, Lucas wrote that he was “very excited” that Daros had agreed to seek the councilman’s spot. He went on to list the reasons why, saying the 52-year North Salem resident is a business owner and has his office in the Croton Falls business district.
“I have known Bob’s family for many years, they are the ‘salt of the earth.’ Bob’s father Harold Daros worked for the town 30 years ago when I first got on the Town Board.”
Referring to the Croton Falls 2025 Plan, a road map for the hamlet’s revitalization which calls for more green spaces, parking lots, sidewalks and sewers and turning the old train depot into a community center, Lucas wrote, “The suggestion was also made to find a Croton Falls business person to work with the Planning Board and I asked Bob Daros if he would be interested in doing that. He agreed.”
Lucas noted that Councilman Martin Aronchick, the board’s lone Democrat who served on the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee in 2010, will “also be working with the Planning Board on this plan.”
Lucas reiterated that the board has not formally discussed the subject of appointments. However, he said he believed there were “sufficient votes to appoint Bob Daros.”
He wrote that the board had “talked with the NYS Association of Towns to make sure that Bob’s status as commissioner of the Croton Falls Fire District was not an issue.”
Because the town does not control the fire district, Lucas wrote, “There is no problem with him serving on both” the Board of Commissioners and the Town Board.
“I look forward to Bob’s election this November,” his email concluded.