Coram woman looks to face Bonner in November election
Sarah Deonarine, who is planning to run for the Town of Brookhaven Council District 2 seat on the Democratic ticket, said she believes there’s a way to balance the environmental and economic needs of the North Shore.
“Nationwide, there’s a feeling of participating in the democracy, and I just couldn’t sit by anymore,” Deonarine said. “I realized somebody strong had to stand up, and it was either going to be me or nobody was going to do it.”
In the upcoming weeks, Deonarine is looking for the petition application to run for councilwoman to come through, and she will run for the district seat against 12-year incumbent Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point).
Deonarine said she decided to jump into the race because of Proposition One, a back-of-the-ballot proposition that extended officials’ terms in office from two years to four, and limited officeholders to three terms. A total of 58 percent voted in favor of that measure with 42 percent opposing last November.
The Democratic contender said the proposition was a backwards means of extending the council members’ time in office, since each elected official would no longer have to run every two years, and the term limits weren’t retroactive.
“It was like they hoodwinked the voters by not giving them the right information,” she said.
The contender for the council seat has been a resident in Brookhaven for 11 years, and in Coram for four along with her husband and three young children. A Pennsylvania native, she holds a masters degree from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. She has worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for seven years, and has spent the past four years as the executive director of the Manhasset Bay Protection Committee, which serves to protect the water quality of North Hempstead. She is a member of the Town of Brookhaven Democratic Committee, as well as a member of the Mothers of Twins Club of Suffolk County, the Coram Civic Association, Mommy and Me and Science Advocacy of Long Island.
Deonarine already has the nod of the town Democratic Committee as well as the Working Families Party, and she said she has sent in the petitions she needs to run for town council, though she has yet to receive confirmation back as of press time.
She is running on numerous issues, including reforming the town’s meeting schedule, and focusing new developments around sustaining the environment.
“A lot of what I want to do gets back to the quality of life,” she said. “People are happier surrounded by nature.”
She said that while it’s all well and good the town has meetings at 2 p.m. for those who can’t drive at night, having the nightly meetings at 5 p.m. means most people who are out working cannot attend. She said she would like to move those meetings past 6 p.m., and potentially move the meeting location occasionally to different parts in the town, giving more people availability to attend.
She also called attention to the issues of derelict housing, otherwise known as zombie homes. The biggest barrier to people making use of this property, she said, was the liens Suffolk County puts on the property after it is razed by the town. She said she would use the strong connection she said she has with Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai) and other county and state lawmakers to see if there could be any program of lien forgiveness, or otherwise a program that would give developers the opportunity to revitalize the destroyed parcels.
Developments and their consequences are on the minds of many North Shore residents, and with new developments coming up in the town’s agenda, including the Mount Sinai Meadows millennial housing project and the Echo Run senior living project in Miller Place, Deonarine said there needs to be attention paid to making sure these developments do not affect the local wildlife, impact the below- ground drinking water or increase traffic.
“We need to protect all our water beneath our feet — you build more development, you have more waste running off into our local waterways,” she said. “More housing means more traffic, but we also need the tax base. The cost of living is really high, people living here, more industries, it’s a Catch-22.”
“More housing means more traffic, but we also need the tax base. The cost of living is really high, people living here, more industries, it’s a Catch-22.”
— Sarah Deonarine
She said she would take a close look at the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency, especially in terms of the tax breaks it gives to developments such as the Engel Burman senior living facilities currently under construction in Mount Sinai. The development was given a 13-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement that would see the developer continue to pay $46,000 in property taxes for the first three years while the two projects are under construction.
She said there needs to be more public transparency with IDA meetings and decisions, along with a closer look at their decision- making process.
“Local politics matter a lot. This is our everyday lives,” she said. “We really need to pay attention and consider a new way, a new approach.”