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Vote

An electronic sign in front of Port Jefferson High School alerting residents about the referendum. Photo by Alex Petroski

By Alex Petroski

After months of passionate and at times heated debate, the Port Jefferson School District community has spoken.

Residents voted overwhelmingly against a $30 million capital bond proposal that carried an additional $10 million in interest over its 15-year life and included over 20 districtwide repair and upgrade projects. The issue garnered feverish local attention at numerous school board meetings and on social media forums since it was presented to the public by the district and board of education in September, driving more than 1,700 voters to the polls on referendum day Dec. 5. After all was said and done, 1,355 residents voted against the bond, with just 374 voting in favor of it. By comparison, just 412 people voted on the 2018 budget and school board vacancies back in May.

A lawn sign on Barnum Avenue encouraging residents to vote ‘No’ on a $30M PJSD bond proposal. Photo by Alex Petroski

The proposal featured a three-story addition to a wing of the high school, additional classrooms at the high school and elementary school, a turf football field at the high school and lights for the Scraggy Hill Road athletic fields, among many more improvements. Some of the fixes — like additional girls locker room space and handicapped parking spaces at the high school track — were included to get the district in compliance with Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act and will likely need to be addressed either using the district’s capital reserves or a reworked bond proposal.

“While I am disappointed in the result, I am encouraged that so many residents took the time to vote,” district Superintendent Paul Casciano said in an email. “The district and our board of education will discuss the matter further at subsequent meetings. The safety, security and compliance concerns that we were attempting to address through the projects in the capital bond still exist and need attention.”

Many of those opposed to the bond pointed to the uncertainty surrounding an ongoing district and Port Jefferson Village lawsuit against Long Island Power Authority, as both entities stand to potentially lose substantial tax revenue in the coming years should a settlement or decision in the LIPA case be reached. LIPA has contended it pays too much in property taxes to operate the Port Jefferson Power Station, now that sweeping energy-efficiency upgrades have drastically reduced the regular need for the plant. The district and village’s annual operating budgets are funded in large part due to that revenue. Others were also opposed to the “all or nothing” proposal, which included upgrades that were seen as imminently necessary alongside projects that were viewed as extravagant, like the stadium lights at the Scraggy Hill fields and a new synthetic playing surface for the varsity football field.

“I think the result demonstrates that the community is seeking more transparency and fiscal responsibility from the board and the administration,” said Rene Tidwell, a district resident who was vocal in her opposition to the proposal. “We as a community are eager to roll up our sleeves and help identify urgent projects to fix compliance issues and to help prioritize long-term projects.”

Tidwell said she was not previously as engaged in the goings on of the board of education prior to the emergence of the debate over the bond.

“There had been talk in the community about it and when I started looking closely at the information the board provided I ended up having more questions,” she said. “Many in the community felt there wasn’t a consistent resource or outreach to the entire community with respect to contributing input for what went into the bond proposal.”

Depending on the assessed value of a district resident’s home, the bond would have resulted in an increase of between $289 and $1,185 annually in property taxes, according to the district.

Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant publicly requested that the district hold off on bringing the proposal forward in September until a resolution was reached on the LIPA issue.

“Tonight’s heavy turnout and result reflects the engagement and passion of our community,” Garant said Dec. 5 via email. “They spoke to the board of education with resounding voices of concern over this bond proposal and while doing so, expressed their deep concern for the children in our school district, clearly stating their support for the ‘needs,’ and not the ‘wants’ in the proposal.”

Councilman Eugene Cook has a proposal that would set term limits for all Huntington elected officials. File photo by Rohma Abbas

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Town of Huntington council members will reopen the issue of setting term limits for elected officials by putting it before residents next month.

The town board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing Dec. 13 on term limits for all elected officials in the town.

Councilman Eugene Cook (R) presented a revised resolution that proposed that individuals elected to the offices of town supervisor, town council, town clerk, receiver of taxes and superintendent of highways be limited to three consecutive terms, for a total of 12 years, in the same office.

“Since I’ve been elected, I wanted to put term limits in and I didn’t have any support for it,” Cook said. “I spoke to the new [elected officials] coming in, and they asked me if three terms was alright.”

Cook previously made an effort to bring up term limits in August, which was defeated. This revised resolution differs from his August proposal, which suggested setting the limit at two consecutive terms, or a limit of 8 years in office.

The August proposal failed to move forward after Cook and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) tried to amend it so that the nonlegislative positions of town clerk and receiver of taxes would not be term limited. Supervisor Frank Petrone (D), Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) and Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) voted against the amendment because they said they believe term limits should apply to all elected officials equally.

“I believe what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Cuthbertson said after the Nov. 10 board meeting.

Petrone, who is preparing to leave office after serving for nearly 24 years, and Cuthbertson (D), who was re-elected Nov. 7 to his sixth term having already served for 20 years, have both agreed to move forward with a public hearing Dec. 13.

The supervisor admitted while he was not initially in favor of implementing term limits, he’s had a change of heart.

“Term limits bring movement, people can move to other places,” Petrone said. “People in the town can move, like Susan [Berland] did, to the county when there are vacancies and there’s only a vacancy in the county because there’s a term limit.”

Berland, who first took political office as a Huntington board member in 2001, ran a successful campaign to be elected the next representative of Suffolk County’s 16th Legislative District Nov. 7, taking over for Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills). Stern could not run for re-election due to being term limited.

Similar to Cook’s revised resolution, Suffolk County legislators are limited to serving 12 years in office.

Cuthbertson said he agreed to have the public hearing and will listen to what residents have to say on the issue Dec. 13 before making a decision.

The Nov. 9 motion to move forward with implementing term limits comes only two days after state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) was elected to be the town’s next supervisor and his running mate, Republican Ed Smyth, won a seat on the town board. Both Lupinacci and Smyth’s campaign promises focused on government and ethics reform, including support for term limits for town officials. Lupinacci and Smyth take office in January 2018.

“While we appreciate the town board’s enthusiasm about term limits, we may better serve the public by passing a comprehensive ethics reform package beginning next term, which includes term limits for policy makers, among other initiatives which make government more transparent, accountable and efficient for the people of Huntington,” Lupinacci said in a statement.

The town board has the option of voting on Cook’s resolution at their Dec. 13 meeting, immediately placing term limits on those newly elected.

Cook said if his measure is not approved in December, he will continue to push for reform.

“If it doesn’t go through, I’ll put it up again in January,” Cook said. “It’s good for the people of Huntington, that’s for sure.”

A rendering of what the front of the proposed new St. James firehouse would look like. Image from St. James Fire District

St. James residents are being asked to vote Sept. 19 on whether to fund a new fire department building.

St. James fire commissioners are proposing a $12.25 million capital bond project to build a new 22,458-square-foot Jefferson Avenue facility.

The proposed Jefferson Avenue facility would be more than three times the size of the existing 7,407-square-foot building. The additional space would include spaces to serve as accommodations for firefighters and community members during storms or major emergencies, in addition to a meeting room for district and public use. It would be built in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the current firehouse is not.

The estimated cost of the proposed plan to consolidate to one Jefferson Avenue facility would be an increase of approximately $118 to $198 a year for taxpayers based on their home’s assessed value.

Polls will be open Sept. 19 from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Jefferson Avenue firehouse, located at 221 Jefferson Ave. in St. James. Residents in Election District 79 can vote at the Fairfield Condos in St. James.

The Rocky Point Fire District’s North Beach Company 2 station is located at 90 Kings Road. File photo by Kevin Redding

Sounding all alarms. Big changes within the Rocky Point Fire District will be left up to voters next month.

On Aug. 8, between 3 and 9 p.m., qualified residents in the district are encouraged to take to the North Beach Company 2 firehouse on 90 King Road to decide the fate of the decades-old building.

Following a resolution adopted by the Board of Fire Commissioners in June, voters will decide on two propositions: an authorization to completely demolish the existing firehouse and construct a new one on its footprint with updated infrastructure with a maximum, an estimated cost of $7,250,000; and the purchasing of a new aerial ladder truck with a maximum estimated cost of $1,250,000.

“It needs a lot of renovations and it’s not cost-effective to renovate. It’s cost-effective to look to the future to make it better.”

— Edwin Brooks

According to the fire district, if the propositions are approved, residents will see an increase in taxes, but will gather interest on each proposition in no more than 30 years and 20 years, respectively.

Built in the early 1950s, the current building has been in need of repair and renovation for decades, to accommodate for more modern requirements of firefighters — from new safety regulations to larger updates to equipment and apparatuses as well as mandatory handicap-accessibility.

A new firehouse will make for better safety to the community as well, according to fire district commissioners.

“This enables us to continue the service we’re already providing well into the future,” District Vice Chairman Kirk Johnson said at last month’s commissioner meeting. “It’s just a modern, environmentally-conscious building that will be able to run over the next 20, 30 years — one of our main focuses with the new building.”

Rocky Point Fire District Secretary Edwin Brooks echoed Johnson’s words.

“The old one has reached the end of its useful life,” he said. “It needs a lot of renovations and it’s not cost-effective to renovate. It’s cost-effective to look to the future to make it better. It’s good for everybody — good for the fire department, good for the public. It’s a win-win situation.”

Brooks said there are no projected tax figures or construction timelines as of yet in the event that the propositions are approved.

Chris Kelly and David Steinberg smile after their victory. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Harborfields

Budget: $84.2 million

The 2017-18 budget is about $1.6 million more than last year’s total, with a tax levy increase of 1.68 percent. It passed with 1,224 yes votes to 249 no votes.

On the district’s website Superintendent Ianni thanked all the residents who voted to approve the budget.

“Thank you for all the support that you have given throughout this budget process,” the message said. “This would not be possible without your help.”

A household with a $2,000 assessed value will see a tax increase of $85.22. Someone who makes $75,000 or less is eligible for a tax rebate of $314.85, and the rebate is reduced by $84 in each of three higher salary brackets.

With two seats and four candidates at the Harborfields district this year, half of the candidates came out victorious.

Incumbent and Vice President David Steinberg easily maintained his seat on the board with 800 votes cast in his name.

Chris Kelly and David Steinberg smile after their victory. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“It’s a pleasure and honor to be able to serve again,” Steinberg said after the results were announced Tuesday night. “It’s such a great community, we’ve done such great work over the last three years and I look forward to continuing that work over the next three.”

As for newcomer Chris Kelly, it seems the third time was the charm, as the resident has tried the past three years to win a seat. He came in second with a close 741 votes.

“I’m honored and humbled and I can’t wait to get to work,” Kelly said after his victory.

Residents Lauri Levenberg and Anila Nitekman were unable to win a seat for themselves, with 623 votes and 476 votes respectively.

Northport-East Northport

 Budget: $163.5 million

The 2017-18 budget is about $1.6 million more than last year’s total. It passed with 2,074 yes votes and 636 no votes. The estimated increase for a $3,800 assessed value household is $122.

Proposition 2, which involved capital reserve expenditures, also passed with 2,197 yes votes to 512 no votes. This proposition will allow the district to use capital reserves to fund additional projects including resurfacing/replacing two tennis courts and replacing the fence at William J. Brosnan School, installing new operable gymnasium windows at East Northport Middle School, and more.

For Northport residents the message was clear: they’re not interested in change. Incumbent Donna McNaughton was able to beat out challenger Thomas Loughran for another term on the board.

Donna McNaughton will continue to serve Northport-East Northport. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

McNaughton came away with 1,750 votes and Loughran with 769 votes.

“I’m very humbled by the support from the community,” McNaughton said after  it was announced she won. She added she was excited to continue to work for the district.

McNaughton was the only one of three incumbents who ran for re-election this year, as a petition last year passed to reduce the size of the board from nine members to seven.

Huntington

Budget: $126.2 million

The 2017-18 budget has a tax levy  increase of 1.35 percent. It passed with 1,022 yes votes to 148 no votes. A home assessed at the district average of $3,600 would see an increase of $111.24.

A second capital reserve proposition to authorize the creation of a new building improvement fund also passed by a vote of 998 yes votes to 176 no votes.

In the Huntington school district things went according to plan, as the two incumbents running unopposed won another term. Vice president Jennifer  Hebert and Trustee Xavier Palacios will both continue to serve their community, winning 1,037 votes and 978 votes respectively.

Hebert said in her candidate statement she believes in listening to all sides of every issue. She is particularly passionate about public school education and believes the learning experience offered to Huntington students should be the finest in the nation.

Palacios said in his candidate statement he has strived to be a problem-solver and to use his legal expertise to contribute to solutions regarding pressing issues facing students, teachers and taxpayers.

The year’s race for the Shoreham-Wading River’s school board is a crowded one.

With four openings, seven residents — including two incumbents — are hoping to win a seat. Candidates Katie Anderson, Henry Perez, Erin Hunt, James Smith and Michael Yannucci are running, while incumbents Jack Costas and President John Zukowski are seeking re-election. Michael Fucito, a former school board member, resigned earlier this year, leaving a vacant one-year term available.

John Zukowski

John Zukowski

Zukowski has served the board for the past six years. He also serves on the policy committee and space and facilities committee, and has a law firm with his wife in East Setauket. He was heavily involved in finding the district’s newly-appointed superintendent, and said it would be his duty and pleasure to serve alongside him for at least another term if the voters will have him.

Zukowski said the district has been moving in an uphill direction.

“We’ve made some great strides this past year,” he said. “We’ve added robotics and are continually expanding offerings to our kids to ensure that, whether it’s college or the service or trade, they have the skills available to make a living. Since I’ve been here, the board has functioned as a cohesive unit, we pass budgets the voters approved, we pass propositions and, for the first time ever, we’ve passed a bond.”

He said, moving forward, it’s imperative the district continues to seek the input of residents, provide an exceptional education while navigating what he sees as an ill-conceived and poorly implemented Common Core and maintain a strong fiscal position.

Jack Costas

Jack Costas

Coming off his ninth year on the board, Costas is seeking a fourth term because, he said, “contributing a tremendous amount of time to the schools, volunteering in the classroom and cafeteria, fuels me.”

Costas, a self-employed general contractor and 13-year resident of Shoreham, said his time on the board has given him valuable insight and knowledge into the educational, fiscal, legal and personnel functions of the district.

When he was first elected, he said, the district was in disrepair both facilities-wise and fiscally, but said he thinks great progress has been made.

“We’ve improved our facilities, passed several propositions, passed the bond and I think morale is higher overall,” Costas said. “Giving up four to five nights out of the month is a small price to pay because I have a vested interest in this district. Not only am I a homeowner, but I have three children currently in the high school and I believe in giving back.”

Katie Anderson

Katie Anderson

Anderson, a mother of two young children in the district, has been active in the schools as a member of the Miller Avenue School PTO and Wading River School PTA. She decided to run for the board to serve as a positive communicator and bring people together.

She said she wants the district to take advantage of all its active parents, and that communication between administration and residents is the key to success.

“Communication with the community could definitely be improved,” Anderson said. “We are very reactive at this time, and I think we need to be more proactive in communication and unify the community. I would like to promote the mission and vision of our school district, which is whole child-focused.”

As a licensed real estate associate broker working from her home office, Anderson said she would be able to actively participate and attend all board meetings. She also said as a realtor, she wants to safeguard the district’s budgetary reputation, protect the community’s property taxes and use the taxpayer’s contributions to the district in a fiscally responsible way.

Erin Hunt

Erin Hunt

President of the Miller Avenue School PTO, a member of the Shoreham Civic Association and a mother of four, Hunt has decided to run for the board to continue to serve her community.

“I think we have a really awesome community and great schools, and I want to ensure that continues,” Hunt said. “I think we have some of the best teachers on Long Island here in Shoreham, [but] there’s a disconnect between school and board and administration and community, so I’d like there to be more positive dialogue and transparency as to what’s going on. I feel called to serve.”

The former New York City secondary education teacher said she wants to fight to preserve tax rates and serve residents with a lean budget.

“I am committed to contributing a fair perspective that represents all district stakeholders; children first, but inclusive of parents, teachers, staff, administration, coaches, volunteers, taxpayers, board members and residents,” she said.

Henry Perez

Henry Perez

The father of two has lived in the community for more than 15 years and has served Shoreham-Wading River and other school districts as a professional engineer, working with teachers, parents and administrators to help develop K-12 educational facilities that foster better learning environments for students.

He believes his 23 years of professional experience in design and construction, and position as chairman of the district’s space and facilities committee, will enhance the board of education.

“I think the environment the children are learning in is just as important as what they’re actually learning — classrooms should align with curriculum,” Perez said. “A board is a collaboration of people, so there should be a good balance of people with different backgrounds and I don’t think there are engineers in administration or on the board. I can help provide some guidance when it comes time to making decisions on how to plan things out.”

James Smith

James Smith

Smith, a father of four, said the school district has provided a great education, and he values his small community that comes together when needed.

Aside from serving as a coach for the Sound Beach Soccer Club and North Shore Little League, Smith was a former vice president of the Briarcliff PTA, where he set up events like the fall festival, book fairs and parent-children dances.

“When I first came into the district, I wanted to become actively involved and get a better sense of what it had to offer my children,” Smith said. “I have a vested interest in seeing our schools and community succeed.”

In a letter to the district, Smith said one of the most important issues facing the district is transparency between the district and community stakeholders.

“I envision a district where communication is a top priority,” he said. “We must promote programs that are focused on the future, are educationally sound, and are fiscally responsible. To that end, we must create a district focused on 21st century skills enabling our students to be productive and successful members of the 21st century-society.”

Michael Yannucci

Michael Yannucci

The Shoreham-Wading River graduate serves as an assistant principal in the Plainview Old-Bethpage school district and is an adjunct professor of teacher preparation at Concordia College in Bronxville. He served on the Shoreham board as a trustee from 2005 to 2008, where he was involved in getting state aid and installing solar panels within the district.

Yannucci said he’s running again to bring more passion to the board. If elected, he wants to have an open-door policy and talk with any member of the community, as long they’d like, on any given issue.

“As a trustee, my contribution will be a commitment to the community to respectfully listen, be honest, be reflective and be responsive,” Yannucci said. “I’ve sat at board meetings where I too often saw reactionary responses with sometimes rude feedback to our neighbors. I believe to foster a strong community of pride, we should listen to and respect each other.”

If elected, he said he wants to implement more technology into the district to share ideas and communicate with residents and even have live broadcasts of meetings so parents unable to attend them can still stay informed.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district’s school budget and board of education vote will be May 16 from 7 a.m to 9 p.m. at Shoreham-Wading River High School.

Current fire district leader is seeking fourth five-year term

Guy Schneider will be taking on Carol Hawat for her commissioner position of the Miller Place Fire District for the second time. Photo by Kevin Redding

The heat is on at the Miller Place Fire District this month, as retired firefighter Guy Schneider challenges incumbent Carol Hawat in an upcoming commissioner vote.

Hawat, recognized in April as EMT of the year by Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker (D-Mount Sinai), has held her position as one of five on the Board of Fire Commissioners since 2001. As her third five-year term comes to a close, she said she hopes to continue serving as commissioner and bring to the job her experience as a full-time EMT supervisor at Rocky Point Fire Department — a perspective that’s proven to be especially beneficial in Miller Place as 60 percent of the emergency calls to the fire district require medical care. Motor vehicle accidents and home injuries make up most of the calls to which volunteers respond.

Having been born and raised on Long Island in a family of police officers, Hawat said that helping people and working for the community has always been part of her life.

In 2008, she helped initiate an Advanced Life Support program in the community, which has provided people with a set of life-saving protocols that extends support until a victim receives full medical treatment at a hospital. Hawat feels she’s made a difference by bringing EMS to the table at the district and takes pride in the fact that the budget has been handled well and taxes haven’t been raised in years.

Guy Schneider. Photo by Kevin Redding
Guy Schneider. Photo by Kevin Redding

“I just love what I do … I want to continue providing quality care and safety to the people of Miller Place,” Hawat said. “This is where my children were raised and grew up. I have strong ties here and I like helping others. I feel like I have a purpose … giving back to the community. It’s what I was raised to do.”

She also stressed her urgency to put a stop to the rise in heroin overdoses on the North Shore. She said while Narcan, the opiate antidote used to treat overdoses, is supplied in the ambulances, she hopes to provide more awareness and training to schools in the future.

Schneider has been in fire and rescue service for more than four decades, and at 64 years old he’s still responding and volunteering every day. He volunteered for 12 years as a firefighter at the Babylon Village Fire Department starting in 1970, served as a hull maintenance technician in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War between 1971 and 1975, and was at the Holtsville Fire Department briefly before working at FDNY Firehouse Engine 60 and Ladder 17 between 1984 and 2004.

He said he sustained some disabling breathing problems in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, and so he decided to slow down and move to Miller Place from Sound Beach. He’s been a volunteer at the Miller Place Fire Department ever since, mostly as “chauffeur,” driving the fire apparatus and getting the volunteers where they need to be.

He said what pulls him out of bed — sometimes at 3 a.m. to a call — is that he wants to help people.

“I’m still on the first engine to a fire,” Schneider said. “I’ve been to just about every fire in Miller Place since I’ve been here. Always first too. That’s me.”

Schneider ran against and lost to Hawat in 2011 but said he’s running for commissioner this year because “it’s time for a change.” He believes strict term limits should be implemented to commissioners because after a while complacency has a tendency to kick in.

Carol Hawat. Photo from Carol Hawat
Carol Hawat. Photo from Carol Hawat

“I want to try to get in there and spice things up,” Schneider said. “Right now we’re working with 27-year-old pumpers, which should’ve been taken out of service a long time ago. It’s gotten to the point where [the current commissioners] are holding on to all the old stuff, because they’ve been around for 15 or 20 years. We need someone with a little more finesse, to try to get in there and work things out.”

He said he has great respect for Hawat and considers her a great EMT but wants to be more active within the district.

“I love Carol, she’s great to work with, but it’s time to move on,” Schneider said.

Hawat said that she doesn’t understand why Schneider has run against her twice when there were two open spots on the five-person board in the previous five years for which he didn’t run.

“I feel like I’m more qualified because of my experience in what I do in the fire department and I’d like to continue doing that … it’s a service for the community,” Hawat said. “I know there’s equipment he feels the firemen aren’t getting and things like that, but it’s not true.”

Josh Hagermann, Miller Place department chief, had good things to say about each candidate.

“I think [Carol] has done a very good job … she’s fair, helpful and has made sure the community is getting the best care,” Hagermann said. “And Guy is very active and he’s a very reliable apparatus driver for us. He’s got a very good firefighting background as well. So, we have two good candidates running for one position.”

Community members can cast their votes Dec. 13 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Miller Place firehouse, located at 12 Miller Place Road.

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As the primary season in New York comes to a close, with real estate mogul Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton winning the night for the Republicans and the Democrats, respectively, one of the more lingering questions is whether to have open or closed primaries.

New York has a closed primary system, meaning only voters who are registered with a certain political party may vote in that party’s primary. That left millions of independent voters out of the race entirely, making many call instead for an open primary, in which voters are not required to declare an affiliation before casting a vote in a single party’s primary race.

If they had gotten involved earlier, those independents did have methods to participate in Tuesday’s primary, if they so desired. Their deadlines to register with the Board of Elections passed in October.

Our editorial board does not support an open primary. People not affiliated with an institution should not have equal rights to its members to decide how that institution should run and who should lead it.

An open primary also leaves room for abuse. The voting system in New York — and nationwide — has already seen its fair share of that, with issues like dead people somehow casting ballots in presidential races. In an open primary, less honest people would vote for the weakest candidate in one party just so the nominee they support in the opposite party has a better shot at winning. That’s not fair and it’s not the way our system should work.

New York’s primary voting system is best in its current form. Let’s leave the party votes in the hands of its actual members.

File photo
Grace Marie Damico, St. JamesGrace-Marie-Damico-Presidential-Primaries_2016_05_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes.
Q: Why?
A: Because I think that the country is in dire straits right now, and the more people that get out and vote for who they prefer, the better the country will be. Hopefully we can bring this country back.



John Hayes, CoramJohn-Hayes-Presidential-Primaries_2016_04_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes
Q: Why?
A: Because it’s too dangerous not to vote. It’s a very important election. I believe Donald Trump is a very dangerous man. I believe that every vote counts against him. If you don’t vote, it’s a vote for Donald Trump.



Charles Spinnato, Port JeffCharles-Spinnato-Presidential-Primaries_2016_06w
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: Yes. I want to choose who I want to vote for [and] who I want to be the nominee for the Republican Party. So I would vote in the primaries to make that choice. [It’s a] very interesting election this year.



James Turrill, MasticJames-Turrill-Presidential-Primaries_2016_01_barkleyw
Q: Will you vote in the primary?
A: I’ve never voted in the primaries before but I want to.
Q: Why?
A: I’m fed up with politicians. Look what [U.S. President Barack] Obama has done to this country. He’s destroyed it. I want somebody not like him.

By Giselle Barkley

The 2016 U.S. presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle made their way to New York to continue rallying support this week.

And by next Tuesday, New Yorkers can make a difference when they vote for their nominee in the closed primary.

Suffolk County Republican Chair John Jay LaValle said this is the first primary in three decades where New York State’s vote is this relevant.

“By the time the vote gets to New York, it’s usually over and it’s a functional exercise when the candidates run,” LaValle said.

When asked how running in New York differed from campaigning in other states, LaValle said, “New Yorkers like to hear it straight.” The Republican chair added that voters in this state are very engaged, intelligent and are more skeptical when it comes to casting a vote.

But Lillian Clayman, chair of Brookhaven’s Democratic Committee said “unless there’s this huge ideological chasm with the candidates,” running in New York isn’t much different than in other states.

The presidential primaries allow voters to help determine the presidential nominees for their respective parties. Of the nominees, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is doing well on Long Island, LaValle said. He added that people are getting tired of hearing the typical political rhetoric they hear from the other 2016 presidential candidates.

Although Clayman said she doesn’t know what’s to come for next week’s primaries, she said Democratic nominees, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vermont) have energized residents, even those who usually don’t vote during the primaries.

Registered voters can choose their nominees on Tuesday, April 19.

Visit elections.ny.gov for more information on deadlines and where residents can vote.

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Above, Chris McCrary is running for a spot on the Comsewogue library board. His opponent, Richard Evans, did not provide a photo to the library. File photo

Comsewogue and Port Jefferson readers will vote on their libraries’ budgets on April 5, as well as one board trustee.

Ali Gordon, the library board president in Comsewogue who also serves on the school board, is not running for another term and two candidates are vying for the library seat she will vacate at the end of June, following a seven-year stint on that board.

Richard Evans, 50, is running for the five-year seat because, “I would like to be of service to my community,” according to a candidate profile on the Comsewogue library website. He listed his occupation as a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, saying that role has given him experience interacting with the public.

In addition, he said, “My experience as a computer forensic examiner gives me insight and growth of electronic media and its uses.”

He has lived in the district since 2011, and is an assistant coach with the Terryville Soccer Club.

Chris McCrary, 49, on the other hand, is running because, “Comsewogue Public Library has been a huge part of my life since I joined the summer reading club in 1971.”

According to his own candidate profile, the longtime resident and high school biology teacher wants to share his passion for reading and show kids “the tremendous resource they have in our own backyard.”

McCrary’s name may be familiar to some voters — in addition to coaching soccer and lacrosse in the area over the years, he has run a couple of times for the Comsewogue school board, albeit unsuccessfully.

Comsewogue budget

As residents vote for a trustee, they will also be asked to cast ballots for a proposed $5.4 million budget.

While that number represents a decrease from last year’s budget total, taxes would go up slightly, mainly because the library would pull less money from its reserves to fund the budget. According to a library brochure, the district is asking to collect 1 percent more in taxes in 2016-17 — a number significantly less than its state-mandated levy cap of 1.48 percent would allow.

If the budget passes, residents would pay almost $0.13 more for every $100 of their homes’ assessed values.

The library plans to spend more on its materials and programs next year and less on staffing and mandated expenses.

According to library Director Debbie Engelhardt, both library visits and overall circulation of library materials has increased since last year.

Port Jefferson budget

Over in Port Jefferson, the library is proposing a nearly $4.2 million budget, which also represents a decrease from the current year’s spending plan. In this library’s case, however, taxes would remain about the same in 2016-17.

According to a library brochure, Port Jefferson has seen savings from retirements. In addition, “a reasonable conclusion of collective bargaining negotiations also helps keep costs in line.”

One budget line that would increase is in programs, which would go up almost $18,000, while costs for books, audio and visual materials and periodicals would all decrease. The brochure said further movement toward cheaper digital formats has contributed to that shift.

If the budget is approved, each resident would pay about $12.54 for every $100 of a home’s assessed value.

Voting at the Comsewogue library on Terryville Road in Port Jefferson Station will take place on Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Polls will be open at the Port Jefferson library on Thompson Street from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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