Newcomer Richard Harris beats incumbent in Belle Terre trustee race

Newcomer Richard Harris beats incumbent in Belle Terre trustee race

Stock photo by Kyle Barr

Belle Terre residents came out Tuesday to vote on two trustee positions, where Richard Harris beat incumbent Dr. Caroline Engelhardt.

According to village clerk Joanne Raso, 225 ballots were cast on June 15. Harris, along with incumbent Dr. Richard Musto, on the Citizens Party platform, took the two titles home: Harris with 136 votes and Musto with 159; Engelhardt received 112 votes

Musto has been a resident of Belle Terre for over 30 years. Now ready for his third term, he previously told TBR News Media he brings 70-plus years of life experience to the table. “I have a strong interest in the village,” he said. “I want to keep it going — I enjoy living here.”

Harris had said he previously never wanted to work in politics, but saw that change was needed in Belle Terre. He said he plans on using his 20 years of professional experience to make the village better.

“I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the village where I live,” he said. 

After moving to Belle Terre with his wife seven years ago, “We could not think of a better place to raise our family,” he said. He is the father of two school-age boys.

Photo from Richard Harris

Harris said he  has served as counsel to town and village boards, planning and zoning boards, conservation boards, public safety commissions, code enforcement and emergency management departments and agencies conducting internal affairs. Currently, he serves as Port Jefferson deputy village attorney and Belle Terre special prosecutor. 

Since moving to Belle Terre, he has served on the traffic safety committee, where he recommended traffic calming measures on Cliff Road, helped build a second kayak rack at Knapp Beach and served on the recently reconvened marina committee. 

After the announcement of his win, Harris said he is honored that his neighbors in Belle Terre elected him as their trustee.

“The role of a trustee in a small village is to ensure that quality of life issues are constantly monitored and addressed efficiently,” he said. “With this in mind, and as I promised during my candidacy, I will be getting to work immediately with the rest of the board to address traffic safety issues, environmental concerns and beach improvements, as well as other pending matters.”

Harris wanted to thank everyone who gave him the chance to continue contributing to the village.

“I’d also like to publicly acknowledge and thank Dr. Caroline Engelhardt for her service to the community, both as a trustee and, even more importantly, as a doctor on the frontlines,” he said. “Her contributions and concern for all of us cannot be overstated.”

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