A Northport millennial brazenly kicked off 2019 by kicking off his campaign to become a councilman in the Town of Huntington.
Michael Bento, 30, announced his intention to run for a seat on Huntington town board Jan. 3 while standing underneath the towers of the Northport power plant.
“I’m running as someone who grew up out here and now lives here with my wife and am hoping to raise a family here” Bento said. “I would like a Huntington that is not plagued by flooding, high taxes, corruption and has an infrastructure that can handle our cars.”
“I would like a Huntington that is not plagued by flooding, high taxes, corruption and has an infrastructure that can handle our cars.”
— Michael Bento
Bento said he spent his summers growing up at his grandparent’s house in Asharoken. He’s building a career working as a consultant for investment banking operations and corporate giving compliance.
A registered Democrat, the new candidate said he’s been inspired watching the 2016 and 2018 election cycles where a larger number of young candidates ran for office. Bento said he has worked with the party on six campaigns in 2018, including canvassing for newly elected state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport).
“I’m running a people-centric campaign,” he said. “I am running to represent those people who have not been listened to by this or prior administrations.”
Bento said he plans to focus his campaign on his plan for bold, progressive infrastructural upgrades across the Town of Huntington to address widespread environmental issues. Key to this proposal includes improving the area’s coastal resiliency plans, starting with rebuilding Asharoken’s seawall, improving bulkheads, replenishing dunes and creating a system of townwide stormwater drains to deal with roadway runoff, something he said can serve as a precursor for a future sewer system.
He wants to spotlight the issue of affordable housing along with the need to be responsible in future development of Huntington.
“I am running to represent those people who have not been listened to by this or prior administrations.”
— Michael Bento
“We should not have giant, looming buildings in downtown Huntington where roads and the parking infrastructure is already strained to the maximum,” Bento said. “We need to be responsible about this. Part of the reason people want to live and grow up in Huntington is its historic architecture and charm.”
The new candidate said he genuinely appreciates the town’s history. In 2017, Bento received his master’s degree in history with a focus on public policy from Queens College. He’s suggested a shift away from apartment complexes toward tax incentives to purchasing property for low-income families.
Yet, the candidate said he recognizes there are political challenges in the months ahead. The first being gaining enough name recognition to get on the ballot, as he could potentially face a primary opponent. He’s launched a Facebook page titled Michael P. Bento for Huntington Town Council with plans to gradually role out a full social media campaign.
If elected, Bento said he will pledge to be a full-time councilman with no outside income or side jobs. He also plans to decline accepting any corporate donations.
“My job is to the people of Huntington, to the voters and that is one of the biggest things I can offer,” he said.