After four terms in Brookhaven Town, Councilwoman Jane Bonner isn’t ready to stop.
“The longer I’m at it, the more I realize that more needs to be done,” Bonner (C-Rocky Point) said.
The veteran politician is looking to be re-elected to a fifth term with the hopes of working on that “more.”
“Every year you’re in office, it’s like peeling back an onion layer,” she said. “I’m finishing up my eighth year in January, and the longer I’m at it the more in-depth issues can be resolved.”
Bonner faces a challenge from Democrat Andrew Berger, but Berger did not return requests for an interview.
Bonner explained that when she was first elected, she did the “quick, sexy things. You make a little splash so people know you’re serious.” But now she’s rolling up her sleeves and delving into the grittier projects.
In her time at Town Hall, Bonner has helped establish a neighborhood watch group in Mount Sinai, pushed to revitalize downtown Rocky Point, spearheaded sidewalk projects on major streets like North Country Road and Shore Road, and helped complete the Route 25A corridor study, a project Bonner said she is most proud of.
“We’ve delineated a true downtown for Rocky Point,” Bonner said of the study, which now serves as a guideline for development along the busy artery from Mount Sinai to Wading River. The study allows for some development in downtown areas, “but it will never look like Middle Country Road, and I think that’s a good thing. Development will happen in the areas where there’s already development; it won’t sprawl out.”
Bonner also lent a hand in Shoreham, to help locate a new solar energy farm. With that property, which will be used to set up solar panels, according to the councilwoman, about $1 million — in payments in lieu of taxes — will go to the local school district over the next 20 years.
The incumbent has also worked to protect open space — the town is in the midst of acquiring the wooded Cordwood Landing property in Miller Place — and to beautify the area, going after derelict houses and storefronts.
“I felt like Rocky Point and Sound Beach and everything up north were like the stepchildren — that’s why I ran for office,” Bonner said. “I stamp my feet and get my stuff done. We’re making Brookhaven better every day by improving the appearance of it and … it improves the quality of life for the residents in the community.”
If re-elected, Bonner said she will continue to work on the projects she’s put into motion, like using $1.3 million in federal funding to clean up Friendship Beach in Rocky Point and pushing for more funds to repair the town’s jetty in Mount Sinai Harbor. That dilapidated jetty represents a hazard to boaters and allows the harbor to fill with sand, but a $10 million repair project — of which $6 million is already set aside, Bonner said —will help keep recreation and business in the inlet.
“We work very, very hard to show people that we are a very, very constituent-driven office,” Bonner said. “I send out newsletters to let the community that I represent know the projects that are going on. There’s something to do every day and the longer you’re at it, the more you see needs to be fixed, and the longer you’re at it, the more things that you can get done.”