Lawrence Ceriello has lived in Munsey Park for the last 32 years. He is also the recently elected mayor of Munsey Park, after serving two years as a trustee on the board.
Ceriello has actually run for mayor of Munsey Park before. In 1991, Ceriello was one of many outspoken residents against a development being placed in Munsey Park where Bonwit Teller used to be and where Whole Foods is now located.
“They seemed to me to be designing the shopping center in a way that was most beneficial for the developer. I thought the rules are the rules, just read the rules and whatever the developer can do within the rules he should do,” said Ceriello.
At the time, Ceriello had his own law firm in Melville and also a lot of free time—the perks of being your own boss.
“I was the board’s worst nightmare as a lawyer with free time on my hands,” said Ceriello. “They had so many people coming to these [board] meetings they moved it to Munsey Park Grammar School.”
With a growing angst amongst the residents from the proposed development, Ceriello decided to run for mayor against incumbent Arthur Schultheiss.
“My theory is if you’re going to criticize the person for the job and I was highly critical of the mayor, you should be willing to step up and take his job,” said Ceriello, who remained friends with Schultheiss until his death in 2011.
Ceriello would lose the election for mayor by 200 votes.
“I went home and my wife said, ‘If you ever try that again you will not meet the residency requirements,’ so for the next 30 years I just focused on my kids and my job,” said Ceriello.
After seven years of being his own boss at his law firm, his wife, Jeanne Bolger, also a lawyer, told him to get a “real job”. Ceriello went back to work in the city where he also first got his start in law. Eventually, Ceriello found his niche in commercial real estate.
He is now a partner at Morrison & Foerster, better known by its acronym MoFo, and has been there since 2013. Ceriello has been recognized by Legal 500 and Best Lawyers in America as one of the nation’s top commercial real estate lawyers.
However, despite his distinguished career and his wife’s initial warning—Ceriello still had an itch for local politics.
“About three ago, I got a call from someone active in the village who said, ‘There is an open trustee seat, would you be interested in running?,’ and I said sure, why not,” said Ceriello. “I have been living here a long time and I actually thought it was time to give back. Sounds corny, but it’s hard to find people to fill these positions.”
By that time, Ceriello’s two kids moved out of the house, both became lawyers like their parents, and he had some free time again.
“After 31 years, I think (Jeanne) has gotten used to me seeking forgiveness rather than permission. I think she would also agree that there had to be a better way in the village than some of what we saw…She has not criticized me yet,” he said.
Ceriello won the election for village trustee in 2017 and, two years, later he ran for Mayor of Munsey Park. Now he mediates neighborly disputes and protects the restrictive village code just as he did back in 1991.
“Appreciate the people for who and what they are,” said Ceriello. “They move here, they want to live here and they want to raise their families here. I did that, I’m really thrilled when other people want to do it.”
Ceriello has two main goals for his mayoral tenure. He wants to restore the community, primarily the roads that have been ignored for too long. Ceriello also wants to keep up the reputation of Munsey Park as an ideal place for families to raise their kids.
“[We] want people to feel comfortable and make sure local government works for them.”