By Connor Beach
Huntington Town Clerk Jo-Ann Raia is ready to retire.
Raia said Wednesday she has decided not to seek reelection in November after serving 38 years in the position.
Raia said in a recent interview she still has her enthusiasm for the job, but thinks “it’s probably time to retire.”
“My mind, my brain and my enthusiasm is still there, but it’s tiring because I give my all to the job,” Raia said. “I want to have some time for myself.”
There is a chance the Raia dynasty will continue in the town clerk’s office. The Huntington Republican Committee this week tapped Andrew Raia, Jo-Ann’s son, as the party’s candidate for the job, according to committee chairman Toni Tepe.
“Andrew has had an interest in the position for a number of years, and the committee felt he was deserving on it,” Tepe said. “His mother would certainly like to hand the torch over to him.”
Andrew Raia, who currently represents the 12th district in the New York State Assembly, said his mother’s retirement and his nomination to replace her “is bittersweet for her and me.”
“As much as I enjoy being an assemblyman, I want to be a caretaker of the work she’s done, and I’m looking forward to carrying on her tradition of public service,” he said.
As the son of Huntington’s longest serving town clerk, the younger Raia said he remembers discussing his mother’s job with her over the family dinner table.
“I literally have been exposed to every aspect of the town clerk’s office for 38 years,” he said.
Jo-Ann Raia said she is happy her son decided to run for her position.
“I know I can’t be here forever,” she said with a laugh. She had to make her retirement decision sooner than she would have liked because recent changes in New York State election law moved up the time for candidates to file nominating petitions from summer to the beginning of April.
In her nearly four decades as town clerk, Jo-Ann Raia said one of her proudest accomplishments has been the establishment of the record center and archives at town hall. She suggested she might even volunteer to help out with the archives after she retires.
“It took a tremendous amount of effort, and as a result we have a state-of-the-art facility that has received numerous honors,” she said. “It’s been my passion to preserve the town’s history.”
The town clerk also praised the skill of her staff and hoped her successor would look to them to help expand on what she has accomplished.
Jo-Ann Raia said she is “very melancholy” about her impending retirement and will miss the town board meetings, fire department instillation dinners and other community events; although, she has 38 years worth of keepsakes to remind her of the impact she’s had on the Huntington community.
“I love serving the residents of Huntington,” she said. “Based on all the thank you letters I’ve received over the years I feel that I’m doing a good job.”