2022 Elections

Changes are upon the Village of Old Field once again.

Before the end of 2021, Bruce Feller, who was elected as mayor in 2018, handed in his resignation and Deputy Mayor Stephen Shybunko took on the role for the remaining months. As the Tuesday, March 15, village elections approach, neither will be running for the position.

Tom Pirro

Pirro runs for mayor

Current trustee Tom Pirro is the only candidate running for mayor. Pirro was first elected as trustee in 2018.

Pirro said in an email he decided to run for mayor because he has “developed a keen understanding of our village, its challenges and opportunities.”

His goal, Pirro said, is to use his experience as trustee and professional experience as a CPA “to continue moving the village forward in a positive direction — all while maintaining our strong fiscal position.”

He along with trustee Adrienne Owen and trustee candidate Thomas Cottone are running on the Unity Party line. He said he also supports the reelection of Tom Gulbransen, who is running under the Sound Government Party line.

Pirro said he doesn’t feel there are any significant issues in the village.

“I have dedicated my efforts in ensuring fiscal discipline and steady leadership which have put the village in a very strong financial position,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of the lighthouse restoration project. This is an undertaking that is near and dear to me, as the lighthouse is not only the village’s public meeting space but is a beacon and symbol of the village itself.”

Pirro said during this tenure as trustee he worked to establish a strong financial standing for the village, and Old Field’s bond rating has gone from A1 to Aa2. He has also worked to streamline the building permit process and oversee the maintenance of roads and roadside drainage systems, which included necessary improvements and upgrades.

Two-year trustee candidates

Tom Gulbransen

Old Field residents will vote for two village trustees for a two-year term and one trustee for a one-year term.

Tom Gulbransen 

Current trustee Gulbransen, who has lived in the village for more than 25 years, said in an email he is running again to continue the efforts of the board over the last few years.

He credits Shybunko, Feller and former mayor Michael Levine along with the board of trustees and residents for important improvements that have been made.

“Most improvements are ongoing, for example, the lighthouse restoration grant applications, the Old Field Point revetment repair grant and some fixes to village code about environmental protection,” he said, adding, “I’m also willing to serve again because it’s a privilege to collaborate with so many talented neighbors.”

The trustee said taking care of the village responsibilities “as cost-efficiently and effectively as possible within the time people have available to help” is one of the biggest things to tackle.

“Even within the village’s relatively small geographic scale, we face complex infrastructure challenges due to our historic buildings, miles of shoreline and fragile environs. Fortunately, the mayors, trustees and the village’s part-time staff have figured out how to juggle and or share tasks. And we make adjustments when residents point out our shortcomings.”

He said while, at times, there are misunderstandings or even contentiousness in the village, the residents “balance things out, remain neighborly and appreciative.”

Gulbransen is an environmental scientist, specializing in software and data sciences for the nonprofit Battelle Memorial Institute. He is also a volunteer firefighter and EMT, and chair of the Suffolk County Council on Environmental Quality.

Adrienne Owen

Adrienne Owen

Owen, who ran unsuccessfully in 2021, has been serving as trustee the last few months after Shybunko became mayor. She said in an email that when Shybunko asked her if she would be interested in filling his seat, she was honored even though it was only for three months.

“I have enjoyed being a part of Old Field’s board these past few months, and I look forward to the opportunity for a full term,” she said.

Serving on other boards such as for Harbor Country Day School in St. James, Owen said she feels she has been valuable in the trustee position.

“I believe I can bring some efficiencies when working with village subcommittees and personnel,” she said. “As I mentioned last year, I am all about process and procedure and there is always room for little improvements in any organization.”

Owen has also been an active member of Old Field’s Ways and Means and Welcoming committees through the years. She is currently the secretary for the Old Field Lighthouse Foundation.

Like Pirro, Owen said she doesn’t feel the village is facing any major issues.

“Fiscal discipline and steady leadership have put the village in a very strong position,” she said “Our board has been good stewards of the environment, and I pledge to continue that commitment. We recently completed some upgrades to the lighthouse beacon for the Coast Guard and are looking forward to a major restoration project for the Old Field Lighthouse and grounds.”

Owen isn’t the first Old Field trustee in her family as her husband, Jeff, served for six years. The couple along with their 16-year-old son have lived in the village since 2008.

William Schaefer

William Schaefer

William Schaefer, who has previously served as village trustee in 2007-08 and had an unsuccessful run for mayor in 2008, is running on the Bill of Rights Party ticket. He said in an email that his love for the village along with his desire to work with his fellow residents to make Old Field “an even better place to live” is what motivated him to run for trustee.

“While we have been well served by our previous mayors and many of our past and present trustees, I regret the increasing vitriol, intractability and conflicts of interest within our village,” he said. “Many years ago, we experienced the same discord for which, as a trustee, I bore some responsibility and which resulted in me losing the election for mayor. But I believe in redemption and honestly believe that I can bring an independent voice of reason and replace litigation and contention with compromise and mutual respect.”

Schaefer said he would like to see the refocusing of the village’s code enforcement toward “both rigorous and consistent and fair enforcement of our village code — to save our cherished environment — as well as strengthening of its service function.” He added he would honor the 2% tax rate cap.

Schaefer would also like to build on the work of former mayors Cary Staller and Levine, he said, as well as “the current efforts of trustees Gulbransen and [Rebecca] Van Der Bogart, expediting restoration of our precious lighthouse — much in the same way that we saved the Keeper’s Cottage.”

In addition to his prior experience as trustee, Schaefer has worked for the U.S. Department of Health, served as a clerk to a U.S. District Court judge, a Suffolk County assistant district attorney and an assistant attorney in the Organized Crime and Racketeering section of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has also taught criminal justice, law and political science at Long Island colleges.

One-year trustee candidates

Tom Cottone

Thomas Cottone

Dr. Cottone said in an email that this will be the first time he has run for trustee. He has been president of the Old Field Woods Homeowners Association since 2016 and has interacted with the board due to the position on numerous occasions.

“As a result, I have become more educated about village management, and the significant amount of effort involved in maintaining the stability and wonderful quality of our community,” he said. “I believe I can make valuable contributions to the board with my professional, civic and volunteer experiences.”

In addition to his position with OFWHA, he has been CFO for the Long Island Anesthesia Physicians and principal in strategic growth and practice development for LIAP as well as lead anesthesiologist for the organization where he developed the initiation and implementation of its COVID-19 response team. As well, he is CFO, partner and board member of the Wohali Resort in Park City, Utah, and managing partner of Setauket Partners, the investment arm of the resort. He is also a team member of Room4Love, the Setauket-based, nonprofit organization that helps children with cancer.

Cottone said he feels it would be an honor to serve with Pirro, Gulbransen and Owen as he believes they are “leading the village in a positive manner.”

The candidate said he believes the village has no substantive issues.

“I would like to see the village historic lighthouse efficiently undergo further needed renovation with available potential grant funds complemented by The Lighthouse Foundation donations,” Cottone said. “An improved lighthouse, along with the village park, will greatly enhance the sense of community in Old Field. Other items that I would focus on would be maintaining the successful environmental initiatives the current board has established, as well as identifying other opportunities, and reestablishing a welcoming committee for
new residents.”

He added that he would continue the current board’s trend with keeping taxes as low as possible.

Morgan Morrison

Morgan Morrison

Morgan Morrison is running on the Sound Government Party line. As a lifelong resident, he said in an email, he wanted to be more involved in the village.

“Having lived my entire life here, I’ve watched the village evolve over time, and I’d like to add my energy and commitment toward keeping it a place future generations can enjoy,” he said. “I believe people are drawn to live in Old Field because it is a unique environment. I’d like to preserve its character as we move into the future.”

He added he wouldn’t be influenced by professional conflicts of interests.

“I care strongly about the environment and security of our village,” he said. “I will advocate for what’s best for the village as a whole.”

The candidate said many in the village are concerned about the “costs of maintaining the safety and security of the village.”

“I believe in finding more cost-effective solutions for getting the largest value and quality of life returns from our village taxes so as not to increase them,” he said. “An easy and cost-effective method to increase our security would be to utilize modern technology — such as license plate readers — to build upon the human presence of our constabulary.”

Morrison has worked in IT and technology for nearly 15 years which has provided him with the opportunities to travel extensively. He is currently a technical and horticultural consultant. He said he feels his professional background can be helpful “to make the village meetings more accessible and to increase our safety.” 

He also is familiar with village government as his mother Geraldine Morrison was a trustee and deputy mayor for three terms in Old Field.

“I know what the job entails, and I’m very familiar with the village code,” he said. “I know the capabilities — and limitations — of what technology can do to make our lives better. I work well with others, and I believe I have a lot of value to add toward keeping Old Field the wonderful place that it is.”

Residents can vote on March 15 from noon to 9 p.m. at the Keeper’s Cottage, 207 Old Field Road. In addition to voting for mayor and three trustees, voters will have the opportunity to vote for village justice. Mitchell Birzon, who ran for the post in 2021 to fill the remainder of the term left open after the death of justice Ted Rosenberg in September 2020, is unchallenged.

Northport Village Hall. File photo

In the Village of Northport, residents will vote for a new mayor on Tuesday, March 15.

In addition to choosing between mayoral candidates Dave Weber Jr. and Donna Koch, voters will select three trustees, two for a four-year term and another for a two-year period. Mary Biunno is also running unopposed for village justice.

Weber and Koch recently answered questions via email about the mayoral race.

Donna Koch

Koch is no stranger to Village Hall. Until October of 2020, she worked as a full-time clerk until she had a parting of ways with the mayor, she said.

The candidate had been with Village Hall for more than 25 years. After starting her career as a crossing guard in the village in 1993, she spent a few years working part time in Village Hall and in 1998 became full-time deputy village clerk. In 2000, she took on the job of village clerk. After taking some time off, she realized she “missed Northport village government and started to attend village board meetings regularly.”

“With a different perspective, I could see what the residents saw,” she said. “A board whose sole purpose was to hurry through the meeting, with department heads having nothing to report, a treasurer who had nothing to report. And, with a total disrespect for the residents who do attend the meetings. It was then I knew I wanted to run for mayor and bring this village board back to a position of respect, transparency, with open, honest, informative meetings. This is an unprecedented time for the village. With four new spots up for election, experience will be key. I have that experience.”

She said taxes are a constant issue in
the village.

“We need to get our spending in check,” Koch said. “I will work with a board who takes a hard look at spending and finds ways to cut back. Do more with less. I will strive to achieve a zero tax increase.”

She also is concerned about keeping the “harbor clean, by mitigating stormwater runoff.”

She said the village needs “to dust off” several studies that were done “to see how we can implement them today.”

“I love the idea of rain gardens and more aesthetically pleasing remedies,” Koch said. “We as a board will look into every option that’s available.”

She said she would also aim to keep cannabis out of the village, control speeding on the roads, and put in new sidewalks, trees and curbs in the downtown area. She also has street congestion, parking and living in the post-COVID world on her mind.

Dave Weber Jr.

Dave Weber Jr.

Current trustee Weber said his experiences as a volunteer with the fire department and a downtown business owner, both for 26 years, have given him a unique perspective of the village regarding what it needs for long-term growth and sustainability.

“Joining the board of trustees in 2020, I have given our residents that voice that has been missing over the past administrations,” he said.

Among his accomplishments while trustee, he listed, “Transparency, calling out and getting professional guidance and new eyes into our finances when wrongdoing was discovered; fiscal responsibility, building relationships with federal and state as well as local elected officials to obtain grant monies to improve recreational facilities for our youth; environmental initiatives, continuing stormwater mitigation along Main Street with state funding for continued improvement of our water quality; aquaculture programs to clean and strengthen the condition of our harbor for future generations.”

Weber said the village’s lingering issues would be compounded by new hurdles as it transitions into a post-pandemic era. He listed commerce and stormwater mitigation as priorities once the new board takes office. He also said that building relationships between public/private partnerships and community organizations, in turn, can create a stronger village.

Weber said one example of partnerships has been how as trustee he has already built a relationship with the local community organization Not in Our Town and the Town of Huntington Anti Bias Task Force to address hate and antisemitism after incidents in the village.

He also said he would work to connect local businesses with the community and has a plan for stormwater mitigation.

“Building relationships with business owners and bridging residents and customers to those businesses to help fill storefronts and keep our downtown thriving is an initiative that I have already begun and will continue to do,” he said. “Stormwater mitigation or the ‘flooding on Main Street’ has and probably will always be an issue due to our Main Street being in a valley. Using federal money for dry wells and filtration as well as installing rain gardens along these key areas will help to alleviate the increase of nitrogen in our harbor. Partnering with key environmental organizations within the village to educate and get our community involved in this extremely important issue is currently happening, and will continue
if elected.”

Two-year trustee

Meghan Dolan Saporita

Meghan Dolan Saporita

Trustee candidate Meghan Dolan Saporita, a litigator in both the public and private sectors, said in an email that running for village trustee wasn’t something she ever thought she would do. Throughout her career, she has been a trial attorney and an assistant district attorney for Nassau County. She is the mother of school-aged children and is a current member of the Ocean Avenue PTA and a youth soccer coach in the village. Dolan Saporita is also one of the co-founders of Not In Our Town Northport which works with the community, school administration and police department to stand up against hate and bigotry. NIOT also heads up donation drives for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as well as school supplies.

My decision to enter the race was really organic, growing out of my work the past few years in this village, the relationships I have formed here, and the real opportunity for new and needed leadership in this particular election,” Dolan said. “In attending and speaking at the village meetings, it became clear to me that new voices — voices of women, parents and young people — are essential to continuing to make Northport Village the best it can be. I decided to enter the race because I am dedicated to Northport and because I am qualified, experienced, and professional, all qualities that Northport Village deserves in its leaders.

Dolan said she feels the biggest problem facing Northport Village is environmental.

“We have suffered from flooding in the downtown, which produces significant pollutants which then run into our Harbor,” she said. “We need to make tackling these environmental concerns a priority: addressing the infrastructure (with Federal money) to prevent flooding every time it rains, by committing to native plantings, by following through on commitments to a native tree planting program, in partnership with our incredible local nonprofit Northport Native Garden Initiative, by continuing work on our aquaculture programs, and by starting new initiatives in the village geared towards sustainability.”

Jim Izzo

James Izzo

James Izzo, who owns Cow Harbor Realty, said this is the first time he is running for village trustee. He said when he was president of the Northport Chamber of Commerce, he was slightly frustrated with what he felt was a lack of response from the village during the COVID-19 response by the existing administration.

“We just got to a point where our members needed a lifeline,” he said. “The village did not respond, and as the chamber, we offered multiple things that were safe in nature that could have easily been done and benefited our members and our small businesses. Initially they said, “no,” and then after a while, they just stopped responding completely. So, that level of frustration was my initial looking at what’s wrong and then evolved.”

He said when he moved from Asharoken to the village a year and a half ago, he started “seeing shortcomings that went well beyond how they treated the chamber and its members, but how they treated the residents. So, it really evolved from a level of frustration to a level of, “Oh my goodness, I have to do something.”

Izzo said there may be a myriad of issues in the village but have been identified and are easy to resolve. He said he feels the residents should be more involved in decision-making too, and he doesn’t feel there needs to be so many meetings behind closed doors. He said the village needs accessibility, caring and transparency.

“I’ve been self-employed all my life; and I’ve run my own companies; and I’ve been involved with business improvement districts; I’ve been on a number of boards, where you have a mission statement,” he said. “It seems to me, although in an elected capacity, [village] boards don’t have a mission statement per se, but they still have a mission.”

He added, “a good manager doesn’t solve the problems, a good manager anticipates future problems.”

“It’s more like you anticipate what could come up and you try to anticipate it and resolving before it escalates. So, I think now, what we’re seeing is maybe the tip of the iceberg, and maybe there’s other underlying problems that haven’t surfaced yet, and that’s my real concern.”

Joseph Sabia

Joseph Sabia

Joseph Sabia, the owner of Sabia Car Care, has unsuccessfully run for trustee three times and mayor once in the past.

He said as not only is he a business owner, but as someone who has been a member of the Northport Police Department and on the Northport-East Northport school board from 2011 to 2014, he has seen a lot in the village. He also has been attending the village board meetings for 10 years.

“I’ve been living in the village of over 45 years,” he said. “I have a business here, and I live here, and I raised my family here, and after going to meetings, I realized how this place is run,” he said. “It’s very poor.”

Sabia said as someone who is financially conservative, he feels the village having a more than $8 million fund balance while having a nearly $17 million budget is “ridiculous.”

“Our village, they over budget, underspend and they bank a lot of money,” he said.

He said a $4 million reserve would be enough for a village the size of Northport, and he also feels that the village needs to stop raising taxes needlessly, especially with rising inflation.

“You look at every and each individual department, you see how much money has been spent the year before. The real numbers. And that’s when you go back to which is called the zero-based budget. So, if they spent 4 million less you go back to the 4 million less and then raised taxes on the 4 million less than what Curtis’s and if you have the reserve that you have, which is eight and a half million, you don’t raise taxes at all.”

Sabia said he would do his best not to raise taxes, but he understands there are situations where it may be necessary.

He said other issues on his mind are the deteriorating conditions of roads, sidewalks and curbs in the village. Sabia added he has seen overgrown trees where the roots are breaking up the sidewalks. He also said the village has to look at the stormwater runoff issue on Main Street, and he believes rain gardens and catch basins can help.

One-year trustee

Michael Bento

Michael Bento

A financial professional and as someone just starting a family, Michael Bento said he can bring a unique perspective to the village board.

He said one of the key issues is the fiscal challenges that will be brought on by the school tax hike due to the LIPA settlement, and he plans to keep village taxes low to offset the effects. He said his goal is to fight for federal infrastructure funds that New York State will allocate and search for intergovernmental grants.

“To me the biggest problem facing our village is the impact of the LIPA settlement,” he said. “The school tax hike after the glidepath has been exhausted will make Northport unaffordable for many families if we are not agile and proactive with offsetting the pain on other tax lines, such as village taxes or instance,” he said. “I am looking to leverage my experience as a financial professional to find as many offsets as I can to help keep village taxes low without sacrificing the quality of our services.”

Bento also listed other issues in the village such as repairing roads, sidewalks and storm drains. The flooding on Main Street is also on his mind.

“The health of the harbor is also of great concern,” he said. “Infrastructure grants would also go a long way toward mitigating runoff, but also partnerships with NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and non-profits dealing with marine and environmental issues are also essential to keeping our waters clean for the next generation.”

While Bento has been a full-time resident since he his wife, Victoria, settled in the village in 2017, he said he would visit his grandparents in the summer when they had a house in Northport.

“We chose Northport because drawing from my own childhood experiences we could not envision raising our future kids anywhere else,” he said.

Ernest Pucillo is also running for trustee but could not be reached.

March 15

Residents will be able to vote for the Village of Northport mayor and trustees on March 15 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Northport Village Hall, 224 Main St.

Anthony Figliola, right, is pictured with his wife, Christine, and children Celine, Siena and Anthony. Photo from candidate

A former Town of Brookhaven deputy supervisor is ready to take on Congress.

Anthony Figliola

As the new year began, Anthony Figliola (R-East Setauket) announced his intention to represent New York’s 1st Congressional District. The seat is currently held by U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) who announced in 2021 that he would not run for Congress and would instead run for New York State governor.

Figliola, who is running for office for the first time, said it’s something that’s been a dream of his for a while. When he heard the announcement that Zeldin decided to tackle the governor’s race, he knew it was time to seize the opportunity to run for Congress. Despite this being the first time he’s running for office, the candidate said Congress is a perfect example of being able to be a citizen legislator.

He said he prayed on the decision with his family and reached out to people he knew in the Republican Party. The husband and father of three said his agenda is families first, and he is concerned about kitchen table issues that affect the middle class.

“I decided that I wanted to jump into this, and primarily because, especially with COVID, seeing the way that this country has been going, it’s really been going downhill, and one of the most glaring issues to me is the impact on the middle-class community,” he said.

The candidate said while he knows the district has always been an expensive place to live, after COVID and the state mandates and shutdown, he talked to various small business owners and realized the difficulty they were having keeping afloat and hiring.

“I talked to a lot of families who, with inflation being at 7%, which is the highest since 1982, they literally don’t have the salary to be able to pay all their bills,” he said. “Some prices are up 50% from where they were last year. Something’s got to give, and people need somebody in Washington that’s going to fight for them and — whether they’re Republican, Independent or Democrat — someone who understands how government works, but also with the same struggles that they have. I was tired of sitting on the sidelines, and I want to be in it, and I want to play.”

Robert Cornicelli, of St. James, has also announced his intention to run on the Republican ticket for Congress. However, the Suffolk County Legislature is currently deciding on redistricting so whether or not Figliola will need to run in a primary depends on redistricting decisions.

Anthony Figliola and family. Photo from candidate

The East Setauket resident said he realized he has big shoes to fill in Congress if he were to win and would work not to lose Zeldin’s legacy of “fighting for the working men and women of this district.”

Figliola said taxes, inflation and gas prices are at the forefront of his mind as he runs for office. Regarding gas prices, he said he believes in opening up oil refineries so the U.S. can export oil to other countries, and in turn, build up the U.S. economy and lower the prices at the pump and inflation in general.

“We are now beholden to overseas foreign governments and foreign conglomerates to tell us how much the cost of gas should be,” he said. “We have to stop kowtowing to our enemies.”

Figliola said if elected he would work to help grow the local economy, while also safeguarding the environment, especially protecting the Island’s drinking water. He believes his experience as an executive vice president of a government relations and economic development business, as well as his time as Brookhaven deputy supervisor, will be an asset.

“One of the things that I’ve done in my career is I’ve worked a lot with sewers and the installation of sewers and building sewer facilities,” he said. “What I think is really important is that we work to find a way to sewer more of Suffolk County in the 1st Congressional District, because it’s going to do two things. It’s going to help reduce harmful toxins and nitrogen and other things that are being put into our drinking water and our waterways. And secondly, it allows us to redevelop and reimagine a lot of our downtowns.”

He said he is also concerned with current COVID mandates where he feels President Joe Biden (D) and Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) are making decisions and not involving all branches of government. While earlier in the pandemic former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was given emergency powers, the current governor doesn’t have the same authority. An example he said is the mandatory vaccinations and boosters from Hochul which he felt were just edicts.

“There’s no checks and balances,” he said. “There was no debate. There’s no review of the issue, the science, who it’s going to impact. It’s just one day Biden or Gov. Hochul says this is how it’s going to be, and if you don’t follow, you’re going to lose everything that you know. And that’s it, and I disagree with that. I’m going to fight passionately for people’s individual liberties and for their freedoms.”

by -
0 690
Port Jefferson Free Library. File photo by Kyle Barr

The Port Jefferson Free Library Board of Trustees recently announced that one seat is due to expire. 

Trustee Jennifer Schaefer’s term expires January 2022 and she will not be seeking re-election. One petition has been filed by Carl Siegel who will be running unopposed.

Carl Siegel. Photo from Port Jefferson Free Library

Siegel served two five-year terms on the board of the Port Jefferson Free Library from 1994-1999, and again in 2016-2021. He was involved in multiple projects and initiatives including the creation of the Children’s Library and the Adult Reading Room. 

He states that experience gave him a strong understanding of the building development, its fiscal requirements and challenges, and he gained a solid understanding of the village population’s needs and priorities. 

Siegel is a retired English teacher who was employed at Port Jefferson High School for 23 years and taught dozens of literature courses over the past several years in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Stony Brook University. 

The Port Jefferson Free Library’s annual meeting and election will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 12 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. 

Voters must be of at least 18 years of age, a resident of the Port Jefferson School District and a member of the PJFL Association with a library card in good standing

File photo

During a virtual press conference Nov. 4, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY3) said he has a lot to think about before the end of the month.

Suozzi said he has been seriously considering running for New York governor in 2022, but he said he will not make a decision until the end of November.

“I’d love to be the governor of New York State, and I think I’ve got a great record of accomplishment,” he said. “I think I’d be great at the job. I have a vision for the state of New York. I know what needs to be done.”

Over the next few weeks he will meet with political consultants to determine if he has a good chance of winning. He added he believes he could win a general election but he wasn’t sure about a Democratic primary.

To date, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Attorney General Leticia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams have stated their intentions to run in the Democratic primary in June of 2022.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn formally announced her bid for Congress at a June 2 event at the Three Village Inn. Photo by Rita J. Egan

More than 150 people, celebrating a local elected official’s announcement, filled the front courtyard of the Three Village Inn, Stony Brook, in the late afternoon of June 2.

Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) announced her bid to run in 2022 for New York’s 1st Congressional District. Hahn, who is also deputy presiding officer of the county Legislature, will run against fellow Suffolk Legislator Bridget Fleming (D-Noyac) for the Democratic nomination. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R) has held the seat since 2015. The congressman is currently campaigning for the Republican nomination for New York State governor in 2022.

The June 2 event was organized for Hahn to make her first public remarks about her decision. When she was younger, the legislator was a waitress at the Three Village Inn.

Hahn said her father, who was a volunteer firefighter in Stony Brook, gave her inspiration to serve the community.

“I always try to match the level of service my dad gave,” Hahn said. “He is my hero, and my prime example of what it means to show up for your community and help families in need. It’s his example that led me to pursue a career in social work and become a civic leader.”

She said his influence also helped her tackle difficult issues in the Legislature where she has worked on legislation to protect land and water from pollutants, confront Long Island’s opioid epidemic, and helped victims of domestic abuse.

Hahn said more than ever the district needs a leader in Congress, “who actually wants to find solutions for our problems, and that is what I will do — find solutions.”

“I have so much hope and optimism right now,” she added. “We are back together close enough for handshakes and hugs.”

Hahn compared the pandemic to a storm, and said like other storms, residents will come out stronger “if we are willing to face head on together the enormous challenges that need to be tackled for Long Island’s hardworking families.”

The legislator said she recognizes the impact the pandemic has had financially on many. She added Long Islanders’ finances were affected long before the COVID-19 shutdowns when the federal government capped the state and local tax deduction.

“This punitive tax has hurt families and hurt our economy,” she said. “Of course, I’ll stand up for Long Island homeowners and vote to repeal that tax.”

In addition to removing the tax cap on SALT deductions, among her goals, if elected to Congress, are making health care affordable, child care more accessible, investing in local infrastructure and protecting land and water from pollution and having access to parks and shorelines.

“Washington must be better for us,” she said.

Hahn said she believes a campaign can be built with Long Islanders across the political spectrum “while upholding deep-held Democratic values of respect, equality, justice and opportunity for all.” She made it clear she is ready for the task of running for Congress and described herself as a problem solver.

“I work to get things done,” Hahn said. “I lead with respect, and I listen. I have a track record of working with anyone, to put family first and get results. That’s the kind of leadership our community needs in Washington. This campaign isn’t going to be easy, but like a lot of Long Islanders, I’ve never backed down from a challenge.”

Alexandra VanDerlofske, executive director of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, said in an email statement that voters will have a difficult decision to make when it comes to the primaries.

“Kara Hahn has been a dynamic legislator and has a proven record of getting things done for Suffolk,” she said. “Voters are going to have a tough choice to make, but either choice will be a good one as Kara or Bridget will both be strong advocates for Suffolk in Congress.”