Editor’s note: The web version of this article contains information about Theresa Laucella that was not received until after The Village Times Herald and Port Times Record newspapers were sent to the printer and therefore was not included in the print version. No photo of Laucella was provided.
So far, the race to fill the seat left vacant by former Town of Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D-Port Jefferson Station) has been a one-man race.
In November, Cartright won her run as a judge for the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and the town scheduled a special election for March 23. Earlier this year it was announced that Democrat Jonathan Kornreich and Republican Theresa Laucella would be running to fill the vacant council seat. However, Kornreich is the only one who has been actively campaigning.
Laucella did not participate in a debate hosted by the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce Feb. 23, and at press time, did not confirm her participation in the March 17 Three Village Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidates night. The Brookhaven Republican Committee also did not respond to multiple phone and email requests from TBR News Media to interview Laucella.
Kornreich, who is former president of the Three Village Civic Association and has been a Three Village Central School District trustee for more than a dozen years, said the campaign process has been important to him.
“You want to meet as many people as possible and hear what their issues are, and that’s what really brings you back to making sure that you’re in tune with what the community wants,” he said. “Elections are important.”
When Kornreich began his campaign for councilman, he said he realized the importance of the work Cartright started and he plans to continue, including taking the ideas gathered from area residents a few years ago for the Route 25A Three Village Area Visioning Report and implementing them, and ensuring a similar study for redeveloping Upper Port Jefferson is continued. He said planning is important for the future of the district, especially regarding keeping each area’s personality.
While talking to district residents over the last couple of months, he has found that not everyone in the community is engaged, and he will work to make sure their concerns are heard.
“There are people who are very good at making their opinions and their wants and needs known, and then there are other people who have been, for one reason or another, not engaged in that same way to advocate for themselves,” he said. “So, I think that, in those situations, we have to as a government representative affirmatively reach out to them and ask, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on?’”
Kornreich said while he has a lot of ideas and things he wants to work on as councilman, he feels at first learning is important if he is elected.
“The key is going to be just listening a lot in the beginning and learning the mechanisms and learning how things work,” Kornreich said. “Just learning the system so that I can be effective in addressing constituents’ concerns.”
If elected, Kornreich will be the only Democrat on the Town Board, like Cartright was.
After the March 18 newspaper editions of The Village Times Herald and The Port Times Record were sent to the printer, the Brookhaven Republican Committee sent an email and said Laucella was not currently available for interviews.
According to the committee, Laucella, a Stony Brook resident, has been an active volunteer in the Three Village area. The wife and mother of one is an active Girl Scouts of America leader and is a member of St. James R.C. Church.
“Theresa is the kind of woman we want to see in government representing our residents,” the committee said in the email. “As a working mother who is an active volunteer in our community, she will be a common sense voice on the town board to hold the line on taxes keep our town an affordable place to live, safe for our children, and work with [Supervisor] Ed Romaine to continue to preserve our environment for generations to come.”
Like Kornreich, Laucella believes Cartright’s work with the Route 25A Visioning Report in the Three Village area and the Port Jefferson Station Hub study need to be seen through completion and implementation.
According to the email, “Laucella also plans to work with state and county officials to revive the idea of a limited access highway along Route 347 to alleviate chronic traffic in the area, and ensure that Suffolk County’s plans for Nicolls Road will not result in impacts on areas along this major county corridor.”
The candidate also believes in strong regulation of Stony Brook University off campus student housing by holding landlords accountable for their tenants actions. She also plans to work with SBU to ensure that any student abuse in the community is addressed by campus officials, according to the email.
Brookhaven’s Council District 1 includes Stony Brook, Old Field, Poquott, Setauket, East Setauket, Belle Terre, Port Jefferson, Port Jefferson Station and Terryville. The special election will be held Tuesday, March 23, at voters’ regular polling places. Early voting can be done until March 21 at the Polish-American Independent Club, 35 Jayne Blvd., Port Jefferson Station. See hours at: suffolkcountyny.gov/departments/BOE/2021-special-election-early-voting-sites.