A Smithtown business owner has put her name on the November ballot to give residents a third option when voting for town supervisor.
Kristen Slevin, 40-year-old owner of Yottabyte Craft Chocolate and Candy in Smithtown, has launched her own independent campaign for Smithtown town supervisor. A prior vice president of Swan Lake Civic Association, this is her first time running for political office.
Slevin, a Smithtown resident and Hauppauge High School graduate, shed light on her jump from business owner to political candidate.
“As a business, we feel we are a member of the community, we have a voice and we should leverage our voices for things we believe in,” she said of her business perspective.
Slevin said after seeing her community get energized by the 2016 presidential election, she launched an advocacy group on Facebook titled Smithtown Election Watch 2017.
“People had all this energy and enthusiasm to get involved in national issues, meanwhile our local downtowns are disappearing right before us,” Slevin said.
Slevin and a team of approximately a dozen volunteers began July 11 rounding up 1,781 signatures from registered Smithtown voters, exceeding the minimum 1,500 required under state law, for an independent candidate to run in the general election. Her campaign slogan is “None of the Above.”
The independent campaign platform focuses on fixing an “obsolete” town code, addressing blight in the downtown business areas and the creation of historic districts and town council districts. One of the first projects on her radar, if elected, would be to embark on a full review of town code, its policies and procedures, as the candidate said she had found it difficult to read through and impossible to search.
“Other things I am concerned about are if the towns are suffering from intentional blight,” Slevin said. “Some landlords might have multiple properties, here or in other towns, that they allow this property to go vacant and are taking the tax credit against what they are making in more successful rentals.”
If elected, she said she would consider introducing new tax codes to increase rates on properties with long-standing vacant buildings to encourage owners to either rent or sell. Slevin said other municipalities in New York and other neighboring states have adopted such programs.
“People had all this energy and enthusiasm to get involved in national issues, meanwhile our local downtowns are disappearing right before us.”
— Kristen Slevin
In addition to addressing blight, the business owner said she’d like to see Smithtown, Kings Park and Lake Avenue in Saint James be recognized as historic districts.
“Our philosophy should be that they are quaint, small-town U.S. towns right here,” Slevin said. “While so many other places are being built up and becoming more city like, we are going to hold on to our small-town vision here.”
The candidate said she’s not against the integrated development of mixed-use properties that combine retail space with apartments designed for students, singles and senior residents. Slevin said it’s her belief that mixed-use properties would provide a more diversified business base and community that over time would strengthen the local economy.
Her platform also proposes splitting the Smithtown town board into council districts, similar to the Town of Brookhaven, to improve elected officials’ accountability.
“If everyone had their own councilperson elected from their district, they are both aware of the issues in their districts and they can be held accountable,” she said.
Slevin said she did weigh running for the town board seat prior to launching a campaign for supervisor. However, she felt that the town codes give the supervisor position significantly more power and control over other elected town officials, something she plans to remedy if elected.
Slevin will face off in the Nov. 7 against Democratic candidate William Holst (D) and the winner of the still undecided Republican primary between incumbent Supervisor Patrick Vecchio (R) and Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R). The Republican primary results will not be available until after Sept. 25.