By Connor Beach
A pair of appointments to Town of Huntington elected positions were made at the tail-end of last week’s nearly four-hour-long board meeting.
Joining the town board is Democrat Joan Cergol, who replaces Susan Berland, who resigned; and assuming the role of receiver of taxes is Jillian Guthman-Abadom, who takes over for Ester Bivona, who retired last month.
Cergol, 56, was born and raised in Huntington, and has worked for the town for the last 16 years. She spent 11 of those years as an economic development assistant to the town supervisor, and the past five years as director of the town’s Community Development Agency.
“In transitioning from my former role to a town board member, I, in effect got to supersize my role as a public servant to the very people I have been serving for the last 16 years,” Cergol said.
She resigned from her former position on Dec. 14, and is “diving into this new job with everything I’ve got.”
Upon learning that Berland intended to resign from her position on the town board, Cergol said, she felt the time was right to make a natural progression in her career.
“The opportunity came up quickly and I recognized it as a win-win situation,” Cergol said. “While I‘ve flirted with the idea of serving on the town board in the past, and good people have encouraged me to do so, ultimately the timing wasn’t right.
“When presented with the idea more recently, it didn’t take long for me to realize this was an opportunity I could not let pass by.”
Her experience working for the town as an economic and community development specialist have helped her to understand the needs of both businesses and the residents of Huntington, she said.
Cergol won’t be the lone newcomer on the board come its next, Wednesday, Jan. 3 meeting. Along with incumbents Independency Party member Eugene Cook and Democrat Mark Cuthbertson, she’ll be joined by Republicans Chad Lupinacci, the supervisor-elect, and Ed Smyth.
“I’m grateful for and energized by this opportunity to co-author the next chapter in Huntington’s history,” Cergol said. “I know Supervisor-elect Lupinacci and Councilman-elect Smyth love their town, as I do.
“We already have that in common.”
Meanwhile, Jillian Guthman-Abadom has been tapped to fill receiver of taxes position, which Ester Bivona retired from on Nov. 29 after 26 years in the role.
Guthman-Abadom, a 47-year-old Melville resident, is also a longtime town employee, having served as director of Human Services since 2006. Guthman-Abadom also previously served as a prosecutor in the Suffolk DA’s office, and as Huntington’s deputy town attorney.
“I love serving the community and I love interfacing with people,” Guthman-Abadom said. “I think my legal background really lends itself to the nature of work that they do in the receiver’s office, so I thought it was a natural fit.”
Guthman-Abadom, a Democrat, said she is also looking forward to working with the incoming town board members.
She added, “Irrespective of party affiliation, public service is something that people pursue because of a passion for impacting others, and I look forward to working with them.”