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Huntington Town Board

Three candidates for Huntington Town Board debate the issues facing town government. From left, Theresa Mari, Jen Hebert and Don McKay. Photo by Raymond Janis

By Nasrin Zahed

Huntington Town Board candidates Jen Hebert (D), Theresa Mari (R) and Don McKay (D) came together in a recent TBR News Media interview held Friday, Oct. 20, to share their thoughts on issues facing their community and their strategies to address them. Brooke Lupinacci (R) did not attend. There are two open seats on the board.


Huntington’s town budget concerns revolve around multiple factors, including a decrease in revenue from sources like mortgage tax receipts. With economic uncertainties placing pressure on finances, the candidates acknowledged the need for a comprehensive budget strategy.

McKay highlighted the significant unallocated fund balance, suggesting a prudent approach for addressing projects such as public amenities. “The budget could be managed by tapping into the town’s unallocated fund balance, which currently stands at $27 million,” he indicated. “We need to use these reserves wisely to address shortfalls in the budget, particularly for projects like maintaining local sports fields.”

Hebert also stressed the need for better budgetary management. “I really am looking to be a good steward of taxpayer money,” she said, adding that the town should be working to have a more open-ended discussion regarding budget related issues and spending, and looking at ways to put funds back into the community’s small business scene. “Small businesses are a vital part of our local economy,” she said. 

Mari added to this discussion, advocating for a resident-centric budget plan and limiting overspending wherever necessary.

“I think it’s a matter of ensuring we are not overspending — cutting where we can and making sure we all work together to try and make sure that everybody’s open and transparent, and that the budget is good for our community,” Mari said. “The top priority always has to be what benefits the Town of Huntington and its residents.”

Land use

One issue that resonated with all the candidates was overdevelopment, each stressing the importance of ensuring that development aligns with the character of the existing community. 

Each candidate emphasized the need for transparency and community involvement in the decision-making process regarding development projects. Balancing growth and preserving the town’s unique identity emerged as a common goal.

All candidates agreed that balancing the budget and managing taxes is a crucial task for the Town Board. They shared a commitment to keeping taxes at bay, especially during challenging financial times.

Hebert emphasized the importance of responsible budgeting and partnering with developers in order to provide new and affordable housing options to the area.

With concerns about community youths not having the opportunity to grow and afford to live on Long Island, she added, “We should transform empty commercial spaces into attractive, affordable housing options. This approach provides homes for a diverse range of residents and improves the town’s financial health by generating revenue from otherwise vacant properties.”

Mari noted the importance of maintaining the town’s charm and collective visual appeal. “The fact is, any building should fit in the character of the community. At one point, Classic Galleries was looking at putting up six apartments, and that just doesn’t work in our village,” she said. Sharing her commitment to keeping gaudy development projects out of Huntington’s view, she stated, “I will look at each project very closely, and each project will get evaluated on its own merits.”

McKay stressed the consequences of projects such as the Indian Hills Golf Course in Northport that are underway. “This project was an absolute disaster,” he said. “They had environmental reviews by scientists saying that you can’t do X, Y and Z. They ignored all the studies … and they’re actually being built as we speak.”

He continued by pointing to perceived faults during the site plan approval process, arguing that the town’s municipal boards largely excluded residents from the decision-making process. 

“They’re advocating on behalf of developers, not advocating on behalf of the residents of town,” he said.

Quality of life

The candidates also shared their perspectives on improving the quality of life in Huntington. Each candidate expressed a common and urgent need to give the Town of Huntington their best foot forward.

Hebert expressed her commitment to enhancing community services for youth, saying, “We need to get the kids early, [but] we don’t offer them enough programs and options. They’re going home to empty houses, they’ve got social media, they need to have more options.”

She pointed out that students need opportunities that allow them to grow in the safety of their local area so that when it is time for them to be on their own, they are ready.

Mari gave an overview of Huntington’s broader quality of life needs: “Making sure that we are representing our community, holding the line on taxes, making sure that our community feels safe, that they don’t feel overburdened, that they feel like they can drink their water, they can go to their beaches, they can go to their parks, and they can live in Huntington [and] keep it their home.”

McKay pressed on the importance of being a board member for the people. A “Town Board member needs to be responsive,” he said. “To improve the quality of life for the residents of Huntington, there need to be public figures working to get projects done that revitalize and work toward a greater collective township.”

Local revitalization

Huntington Station, the candidates acknowledged, faces a set of complex local challenges. Crime rates, particularly property crimes, have been a cause for concern, requiring focused law enforcement efforts and community engagement. Additionally, infrastructure improvements and revitalization efforts are needed to address aging buildings and public spaces.

The candidates expressed their commitment to revitalizing and improving this area of the town.

Hebert urged the unique claim that Huntington Station is the immediate reflection of what the Town of Huntington can do. “That is the gateway to Huntington as you come down [Route] 110,” she said. “We want people as they drive through Huntington Station to look around and think to themselves what a beautiful neighborhood this is.”

By renewing aging spaces and breathing new life into them, Huntington Station has the opportunity to become a thriving district of growth that leads into an already prosperous and attractive town. “We do need to try to give that community the things they not only want, but that they need,” Hebert added.

Mari put great emphasis on the safety concerns related to the area, as residents have come forward with small measures they feel would make their neighborhoods more comfortable. “People say to me that it is as simple as they need more lights in their neighborhoods because of the concern of safety,” she said. “Revitalizing Huntington Station is to make sure that we have enough police to make sure that the area is safe.”

McKay underlined that, financially, the town is in a prosperous position to be able to invest back into that area of the community. “The good news is we got money from the state and so there is money available — that’s the positive thing right now,” he said, adding that there are too many ideas to start solidly and that the community must come together in deciding what route to take. “But the golden question is, how do you use it? What are the next steps in revitalizing an area such as Huntington Station?”

Residents will have the final say on these Town Board candidates. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

By Leah Chiappino

 [email protected]

Huntington Town Board will have two open seats November, with Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) and Councilman Eugene Cook (R) not running for reelection.

Huntington Republican Committee has nominated two candidates: attorney Theresa Mari and town personnel head, Brooke Lupinacci. The Democrats have put forward Don McKay, deputy commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation, and Jen Hebert, program director of Kerber’s Farm School in Huntington and former local school board president.

TBR News Media reached out to the candidates to discuss their background, community involvement and what motivated them to run. We hope to have the opportunity to speak to McKay and Lupinacci in the coming weeks.

Republican Theresa Mari in one or two candidates running for Huntington Town Board seats. Photo from candidate

Theresa Mari

Mari has been an attorney for nearly 40 years, focusing much of her practice on family and matrimonial law. Originally from Port Jefferson Station, she has lived in Centerport for 30 years.

“We just have such a great town,” she said. “We’re just very lucky.”

While she grew up wanting to be a pediatrician, it was her internship at the office of state Attorney General Robert Abrams (D), while in college at SUNY Binghamton, that motivated her go to law school. The internship involved undercover work and investigations in the fraud department.

“I just I loved the whole thing,” she said.

After her time at the AG’s office, she secured internships in several law firms, learning more about the trade. While an English major, she took several philosophy and political science classes.

During her first year of law school at Hofstra University, she worked for Covidea, a computer banking company, in product development, and by her second year, was unofficially the general counsel, which became official once she graduated. She stayed on staff until the product was disbanded and helped close out the corporation.

Along with a few co-workers, she then founded a tire remanufacturing company, serving as their counsel and working them through to becoming public.

Once the business was sold, she went into private practice as Theresa A. Mari based in Hauppauge, quickly developing her love for family law while taking on real estate matters.

“I just found the family law stuff was really coming my way, and I liked it,” she said.

Mari quickly got on the fiduciary list to represent 18B plaintiffs and defendants, who cannot afford representation, so the court appoints a lawyer for them in family court. She also accepted appointments to represent children who receive court appointed attorneys at no cost to the family, which she still does to this day. In addition, Mari received a number of high-profile, privately paid court appointments to represent children in divorce cases, including the children of model Christie Brinkley and rapper 50 Cent.

“I have the respect of the judges,” she said. “And they knew I wasn’t going to be pushed around — I wasn’t going to be starstruck by it.”

Working cases involving such tremendous wealth and fame was challenging, she said, with high profile parents “set in their ways and decisions.”

Mari has also served as director of the Suffolk County Bar Association Charitable Foundation, which focuses on raising money for items like teddy bears in family court and clothes for foster children. The foundation also provided meals for first responders and gift cards for food pantries during the pandemic.

In addition, Mari worked with the Kiwanis International club, Cerebral Palsy Foundation and Every Child’s Dream, among other organizations. 

“I spent most of my professional life advocating for and representing children in these kinds of dire circumstances and chairing all of these charitable foundations and so forth,” she said. “To me it’s the next logical step to try to serve my town and the community that I live in.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s (D) proposal to change zoning laws, as well as overdevelopment, are some concerns she would like to address if elected.

“I’d like to keep Huntington, Huntington, not Queens,” Mari said.

Democrat Jen Hebert is one of two of the candidates running for two open Huntington Town Board seats. File photo by Rita J. Egan

Jen Hebert

Hebert was born and raised in East Williston, before relocating to Boston to attend Tufts University, where she received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in education.

After graduation, she taught kindergarten at a public school in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Hebert and her husband eventually decided to move back to Long Island to be closer to family.

“We were looking for a town that was similar to New England, and we decided Huntington was exactly the right place for us,” she said. 

Having raised three sons in the Huntington school district, Hebert got involved in the district as a parent volunteer. Then, given her educational background, she decided to run for school board, serving for nine years.

“I’ve seen education from a 360-degree point of view,’ she said.

She counts the opening of the Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School, during her time on the board, as one of its chief accomplishments during her tenure. The school accepts students via a lottery system, and focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. It was founded after the district closed the building in 2010 due to crime in the surrounding area.

She also worked to implement new AP classes, increase STEM throughout the district, and founded the Robotics team.

“We worked really hard to bring equity to education and opportunities for all of our diverse student body,” Hebert said.

Eventually, Hebert became vice president, and then president of the board, describing her leadership as assessable and unifying. When she was elected to the board, and the community was grappling with the Abrams school closure, it was a difficult time for the district, she said.

“When I got on the school board there was a lot of animosity and a lot of division, and I think that I worked really hard and was very successful in kind of uniting people,” she said, adding, “I’m a big, great consensus builder and a great team player.”

It was Hebert’s belief in term limits that caused her to step down from the board in 2020,she said.

“I felt that nine years was enough on the board, and it was time for somebody with fresh eyes to take a turn, somebody else with different ideas and different opinions,” she said.

Hebert then decided to run for Town Board in 2021, as she still had a drive and desire to represent her community.

“I work really hard,” she said. “When I dedicate myself to something I dedicate myself 100%. Also, I think that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Outside of the board, Hebert was administrator of St. John’s Nursery School in Huntington, until she became program director of Kerber’s Farm School about a year ago. 

Kerber’s programming includes classes for children and adults of all ages, Hebert said, with topics such as organic gardening, farm-to-table cooking and sustainability. She has also brought in field trips with local districts for special-needs students, and created an internship program, an opportunity for Scouts to earn badges and a weekly life skills program.

If elected, she hopes to work on the revitalization of Huntington Station and advocate for the creation of a recreation center, as part of the $10 million revitalization grant the town was awarded from the state in January.

“I don’t want to be pinned down to something that I can’t then follow through on,” she said.

However, if she is able to be involved, she said developing a recreation center would be “a project near and dear to my heart.”

She is also environmentally conscious, she said, raising backyard chickens and planting native plants in her yard. If elected, it would be a priority to preserve open space and protect waterways.

“That’s going to be a huge priority for me in finding ways to do that,” she said. “Even if they’re just small, incremental ways, even if it means banning fertilizers — those things are going to be very important to me.”

Ultimately, she said, she wants to represent all residents, and be an accessible resource for her constituents.

“I would represent all of Huntington, all of the parts of Huntington, all of the people of Huntington,” she said. “I don’t care what side of the aisle you sit on, I don’t even care who you voted for. If I get the chance, I can hopefully be an accessible and a productive resource for our community.”

Huntington Town Councilman Salvatore Ferro presented the employees of John’s Crazy Socks with a proclamation prior to Huntington’s Town Board meeting on March 14. 

Along with Mark and John Cronin, the father-son team that created John’s Crazy Socks, a social enterprise with the mission to spread happiness, John’s Crazy Socks employees Carol Cronin, Jordan Lerner, Masoom Syed, Cara Hayman, Gary Rottkamp, Kenny Majorana, Andrew Neter, Maria Lerner, Stephanie Sheridan, Samantha Salvo, Ronald Torres, Jacob Greene and Maggie Kearney were recognized during National Disability Awareness Month to show the many possibilities of people with differing abilities.      

“It gave me great pleasure to recognize Mark and John Cronin, along with their colleagues from John’s Crazy Socks during National Disability Awareness Month,” said Councilman Ferro in a statement. 

“The many employees at John’s Crazy Socks have demonstrated the great things people with differing abilities can do when given the opportunity. Their philanthropic efforts are abundant and have had a positive impact on society. Some of their philanthropic achievements include creating charity awareness socks, raising more than $550,000 for their charity partners which include the National Down Syndrome Society and the Autism Society of America and donating five percent of all earnings to the Special Olympics. They exemplify the best of society in their mission to spread happiness.”

Town of Huntington Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci and Deputy Supervisor, Councilman Ed Smyth have announced the Town’s second spray park, at Manor Field Park in Huntington Station, will open in late Spring 2022. 

 “The Manor Field Spray Park along with the new amenities we have coming soon are exciting steps in our plan to revitalize Huntington Station,” said Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci. 

 “In the spring of 2022, the children of Huntington Station will have this first-class spray park in their backyard, along with a brand-new playground and new turf field that athletes of all ages can enjoy,” said Deputy Supervisor Councilman Ed Smyth. 

 At its February 11, 2020 meeting, the Huntington Town Board approved, by a 4-1 roll call vote, $750,000 in funding to build a spray park at Manor Field Park, part of Supervisor Chad A. Lupinacci’s plans for the revitalization of Huntington Station. 

 At their September 15, 2020 meeting, the Town Board authorized the Supervisor to apply for up to $189,000 in New York State and Municipal Facilities Capital Program grant funding for the Manor Field Spray Park Playground project, one of the requirements for the grant funding was a 100% park-type use of the site of the project.  

 Councilman Ed Smyth sponsored a resolution appropriating $200,000 in funds to complete the spray park project at the September 14, 2021 Town Board meeting that will be returned to the fund balance if the grant funding is approved. 

 In Spring and Summer 2021, preparations for the new playground and spray park included the replacement of the synthetic turf field at Manor Field Park, under which the previous septic system leaching pools for both the comfort station and community building were located. The sanitary system was replaced to handle the additional septic and water usage the spray park would bring. Both the sanitary permit and water permit took several months to obtain approvals. 

 The old playground at Manor Field Park was slated for demolition in September 2021 but due to safety issues the old equipment presented, the Department of General Services demolished the playground in late August 2021. Construction on a new playground and the new Manor Field Spray Park will start in the coming weeks and will take approximately two months to complete. The spray park will officially open in Spring 2022. 


Attached: Renderings of the Manor Field Spray Park and Playground. 

Northport power plant. File photo

The Huntington Town Board has unanimously voted to hold two public forums on the proposed settlement with the Long Island Power Authority. The decision pushes a vote on the matter to Sept. 29, more than a month after LIPA’s Aug.11 deadline.

The passed resolution calls for a public hearing Sept.16. The Town Board added a second scheduled date Aug. 10, the day before LIPA’s deadline, to be held at Heckscher Park. Both forums will be available on Zoom.

Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said the amendment that would call for a vote on the settlement in late September.

“I think it’s good that we are inviting the public to put their thoughts on the record, this is the most serious court case since 1653,” he said, alluding to the year the town was founded, at a July 21 town meeting. “If we go forward with scheduling these two [forums], we [should] schedule a vote on the settlement offer so LIPA knows we are not disregarding any timetables … that they know all parties involved are serious and we are vetting this agreement out.”

Town Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) supported the move to add a September vote on the settlement.

“We’ll have two bites at the apple to be able to host public forums as the supervisor is suggesting, so that we don’t end up getting this settlement pulled from the table,” she said.

Town Councilmen Edmund Smyth (R) and Mark Cuthbertson (D) both raised questions about LIPA’s deadline.

“I was under the impression that LIPA’s counsel gave us a drop deadline date in August, and that there was not going to be any settlement offer left on the table after that date,” Smyth said. “Has there been any communication with them that they’ve agreed to extend that date?”

Lupinacci said there hadn’t been communication with LIPA but was hopeful that if the authority saw that the town had a timetable for a vote that they would extend the deadline date.

“Hopefully we can go back to them and say, ‘Look, we’re going to vote [on this],’” he said. “By at least setting this date we can go back to LIPA and say we have this August public hearing, we have a September public hearing and a scheduled vote soon after.”

The proposed deal, which was approved by the Northport-East Northport school board earlier this month, would reduce LIPA’s annual tax bill on the Northport power plant from $86 million to $46 million by 2027. The tax impact on residents would be lessened compared to the implications of a verdict in LIPA’s favor.

Owners of a $500,000 house paying $10,861 in taxes would see their tax bill increase to $13,741 in the seventh year of the agreement. Annual increases for residents would go from an additional $288 a year in the first year to $556 a year by year seven, according to John Gross, an attorney for the school district.

Gross said if LIPA was to win the lawsuit and was able to achieve a 75 percent reduction in assessed evaluation “that taxpayer [of a $500,000 home] would immediately have to pay $3,723, in addition to the refund liability that could range from $12,000 to $13,000.” If the authority were able to secure a reduction of 90 percent, those figures would increase significantly.

At the July 21 meeting, the Town Board also approved a measure to retain the Manhattan office of Mercury Public Affairs for public outreach related to the LIPA tax case.

LIPA did not respond to request for comments by press time.

Joan Cergol. Photo by Kyle Barr

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) may have nailed it when she said at the TBR News Media debate that “Huntington is a fantastic town going through some growing pains.”

Both Cergol and her opponent, Republican challenger Jim Leonick, agree that the Long Island Power Authority’s tax certiorari lawsuit against the Town of Huntington and development are key
issues the town will need to grapple with during the course of the next year.

Both agreed that the LIPA lawsuit needs to be thoroughly investigated and every possible stone turned over in looking for a solution. However, it is a problem bigger than any single board member. Whoever fills the seat will have a voice, and one of five votes on a highly divided council, in what happens to the future
development of Huntington.

Cergol, as the town’s former director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, comes with a lot of experience in this area and spoke of the necessity to strike a balance between smart growth, addressing housing needs and requiring developers to provide parking.

Leonick has campaigned against overdevelopment, but didn’t offer any original ideas. He decries the need for increased government transparency, as he did in his 2017 campaign, but only offered that he supported town forums.

We support Cergol on the fact she helps keep the town board politically balanced — it is currently made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent — while bringing a woman’s viewpoint and a wealth of background experience in community building.

We do think, if elected, she makes good on her and Leonick’s proposal of holding regular town hall forums.

Republican challenger Jim Leonick will take on incumbent Councilwoman Joan Cergol, on right, Nov. 6. Photos by Kyle Barr

There’s a hot race for a one-year term on Huntington Town Board that could tip the scale of the council’s political leaning.

Incumbent Joan Cergol (D) is a lifelong Huntington resident who was appointed in December 2017 to the seat vacated by former councilwoman Susan Berland, who was elected to the Suffolk County Legislature. She previously served as the town’s director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, executive director of the Economic Development Corp. and executive director of the Local Development Corp.

Republican challenger Jim Leonick should be familiar name with Nov. 6 voters. The East Northport attorney unsuccessfully campaigned for Town Board as a running mate with Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) in 2017, coming up just short by less than 650 votes. Now he’s back, seeking to fill the remaining year of Berland’s term.

“I’ve heard more and more complaints of things wrong with the town,” Leonick said. “There are many people complaining about things that don’t have the wherewithal to do something, but I do and that’s why I’m running.”

LIPA lawsuit/Northport Power Station

The Republican challenger said he believes the most important issue in this election is Long Island Power Authority and National Grid’s lawsuit against the town over the tax-assessed value of Northport Power Station.

“It will have the greatest financial impact on town residents, and the tax bills of the Northport-East Northport school district,” he said.

Leonick said he supports levying a fossil fuel tax on the plant to recoup any lost tax money, believes the plant is not currently properly assessed for taxes given its gas and electrical transmission lines should make it more valuable, and is in favor of spending money investigating if using eminent domain to take control of the plant is feasible.

“I agree it’s an anvil hanging over the town’s head for seven years,” Cergol said. “We need to be a unified front.”

She agreed more information would be needed before considering proceeding with eminent domain, as it would require a townwide referendum. Cergol chastised the topic being used as a “political divisive tactic.” The councilwoman said she has been following the advice of the town attorney on how to proceed.


Cergol said the most common issue she hears about is Huntington’s overdevelopment and its impact on the character of the town. She wants to see changes made to C-6 zoning code that affects apartments over commercial space and wants to require all parking needs to be contained by each individual project or on private lots. The Democrat also supports construction of a parking structure or other means to alleviate the village’s parking issues.

“Residents are not happy with downzoning, the town should stick to what the master plan says,” Leonick said. “People who have lived here 30, 40 years and paid taxes don’t want their community to start looking like Nassau and Queens.”

The Republican said a simple fix to the C-6 zoning issue would be to increase the number of parking spaces needed to build apartments. Leonick also criticized the town for not constructing a parking structure for Huntington village, suggesting a modular unit could be purchased and easily constructed.

Government Transparency

On issues like the LIPA lawsuit and parking, Leonick said he feels the town lack’s transparency on its actions. Cergol responded by saying the town’s website has an entire section dedicated to the LIPA lawsuit.

The councilwoman said she authored and co-sponsored the bill that led to live streaming of the town’s meetings and events. She also offered to host monthly forums at Town Hall to delve into topics like 5G cellular service transmitters, where residents can ask questions of town officials and discuss the issue.

Leonick said the town’s web page on LIPA doesn’t go far enough and suggested development of additional electronic communications with residents, like a blog.

2019 Tentative Budget

In review of the 2019 tentative budget and government costs, Cergol said the town has
reduced expenses by using technology to allow residents to apply for affordable housing and register for recreational programs online. She is willing to negotiate the number of full-time staff members per council member, which the tentative budget calls to cut from two to one each with a shared secretary.

Leonick said that he’s glad the proposed budget stays within the 2 percent tax cap but believes there should be an increase in personnel in the town attorney’s office to help reduce outside legal fees and that each council member should have two full-time staff.

Former Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards won the Democratic town supervisor primary. File photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Town of Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) learned a lot about herself in 2017. For one, she’s not a politician.

The 56-year-old Huntington native, who lost to state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) in the November race for town supervisor, will not be returning to the town board Jan. 1. But she is proud of the campaign she led and the community-oriented issues it centered on.

Edwards ran for Huntington’s top seat instead of taking the admittedly safer route of running as an incumbent for re-election to the town board. When asked why, she repeatedly said, “This is not about me. This is about what I believe is best for Huntington.”

She has always seen herself as a community advocate and public servant, first and foremost, a trait noticed and respected by those she has served.

Tracey Edward (D) was first elected to Huntington Town Board in 2012.

“At the end of the day, I’m a community advocate,” Edwards said. “The nastiness and personal attacks in elections were never things I was ever interested in. I want to help people and our town. True public servants don’t stop doing that just because they lose an election.”

In junior high school, she got her official start in community service as a candy striper at Huntington Hospital. She was encouraged to give back to the community by her father — a narcotics detective on the town’s former police force — and mother, Dolores Thompson, a Huntington activist still going strong today.

Edwards has served on the board of directors of the Long Island Association in Melville and is the Long Island regional director of the NAACP — a post she said she looks forward to returning to.

As councilwoman and supervisor candidate, she focused on making Huntington a more inclusive place for everybody, regardless of age, race, gender or economic bracket.

“We have a very robust, diverse and unique town that is filled with wonderful neighborhoods and great communities,” Edwards said. “There’s no place else I would rather live. While I wish Chad Lupinacci the best, I’ll be keeping my eye on him to make sure this town continues to move in the right direction for all.”

True public servants don’t stop doing that just because they lose an election.

— Tracey Edwards

During her four years in office, Edwards has worked alongside Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) to expand affordable housing legislation for millennials and first-time home buyers and has been hands-on with youth-based programs that focus on character building, recreation and tackling the drug problem. She created a special annual luncheon, dubbed Memories of Huntington, to honor seniors age 75 or older, who have lived in town for more than 50 years, for their contributions to Huntington’s history.

“Tracey is not a politician’s politician … she’s for the people,” said Jo Ann Veit, a member of the Senior Reunion committee. “People love her because she’s there for them and she gives you that feeling that she’s there for you, thinking about you and the town, and what would be best for the seniors in the town. When people leave that reunion, they’re all so pleased with Tracey and how genuine she is. She has been a wonderful councilwoman.”

Bob Santo, commander of Greenlawn American Legion Post 1244, has gotten the same sense of sincerity from Edwards in the years they’ve known each other.

“The first time I met Tracey was during a parade in Huntington Station and she was on the back of a motorcycle being ridden by one of our American Legion motorcycle [members] — she was having a grand old time,” Santo said, laughing. “With Tracey, what you see is what you get, and what she says is what she means. She’s never trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.”

Councilwomen Susan Berland and Councilwoman Tracey Edwards spotted at the parade on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015 . Photo by Stephen Jimenez

Santo praised the councilwoman for spearheading the Huntington Opportunity Resource Center, a program that offers assistance with résumé preparation, job searches, career options and job training access for unemployed and low-income residents, many of whom are veterans.

Edwards said her proudest accomplishment has been her ability to turn difficult times in her life into something beneficial to those around her. Upon being diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2016, she was determined not to miss a single board meeting and scheduled her chemotherapy, radiation and surgery sessions around them.

When she finally became cancer-free, Edwards, who said she goes for breast cancer screenings once a year, realized there were probably so many women out there who may not be aware of the importance of screenings or have access to health care.

She partnered with Huntington Hospital-Northwell Health to host an education program on preventative screening exams, risk assessment, nutrition and information for free breast cancer screenings at Huntington Town Hall.

She also helped to rewrite the town’s ethics code to make town hall a more transparent place for residents.

NAACP New York State Conference president, Hazel Dukes, commended Edwards for fighting for the rights of all people, regardless of race, creed or color.

She didn’t want to go back as a councilwoman and why would she? You don’t go backward, you keep going forward.

— Dolores Thompson

“I know that Tracey Edwards is a committed and dedicated public servant,” Dukes said. “She truly brings conviction to the cause of equality and justice for all people. She’s embodied that in her professional life, as a worker in the NAACP and her political life.”

Edward’s work ethic comes as no surprise to her mother, Dolores Thompson.

“This year she’s had the initiative and aggressiveness and guts, in plain old English, to run for supervisor in this special community,” Thompson said. “She’s a trooper, a very strong woman who speaks her mind, and I’m very sure she will do something even better for this community as she progresses. She didn’t want to go back as a councilwoman and why would she? You don’t go backward, you keep going forward.”

Edwards, who lives in Dix Hills with her husband, was recognized by outgoing
Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) during a town board meeting Dec. 13.

“Four years ago, we were blessed with a person that I have never, ever encountered someone with more energy and the ability to move in and create change,” Petrone said. “A woman who has given so much in the short, short four years to the Town of Huntington and its residents … Tracey Edwards, we the members of the Huntington Town Board on behalf of the residents of Huntington wish to extend our sincere thanks to you for service to our community.”

Edwards thanked members of the community and assured all in the room her journey isn’t over.

“You haven’t heard the last of me,” she said. “You have not.”

Incumbent Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D), Democratic candidate Emily Rogan and Republicans Jim Leonick and Ed Smyth are competing for two seats on Huntington's town board. Photos by Alex Petroski
Incumbent Mark Cuthbertson (D). Photo by Alex Petroski

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Four candidates for the Huntington town board are deeply divided on what steps are needed to ensure a brighter future for residents.

Councilman Mark Cuthbertson (D) is seeking re-election to his sixth term on town council with political newcomer Huntington resident Emily Rogan (D). She is a freelance writer who has served as a trustee for Huntington school board for 12 years, four of which as the board’s president. Rogan seeks to take over the seat of Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D), who chose to run for Huntington supervisor rather than seek re-election to town council.

They will face off against Republican candidate Jim Leonick, of East Northport, an attorney with his own practice who has previously worked as a state tax grievance arbiter. He is running with Lloyd Harbor resident Ed Smyth, also an attorney who has served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and previously on the Village of Lloyd Harbor’s board of zoning appeals.

While the candidates all profess a love for Huntington, they disagreed on what shape or form its future development should take.

Republican candidate Jim Leonick. Photo by Alex Petroski

Cuthbertson said one of his main goals is creating more housing for senior citizens and millennials to enable them to stay in town. Rogan agreed to the need for a walkable community that incorporates mixed-use retail and apartment spaces in the town, citing downtown Huntington Station and Melville’s Route 110 as prime locations.

“The entire town benefits when all of our town is thriving and feels uplifted,” Rogan said. “People want to see Huntington Station become as desirable a place to be as downtown Huntington village, downtown Northport Village or Cold Spring Harbor.”

Leonick and Smyth both said they feel these developments aren’t considered desirable by residents, saying current town board simply isn’t listening. The Republican
candidates said rather than high-density apartments, they would make it easier for seniors to put accessory apartments in their homes for additional income.

Democratic challenger and political newcomer Emily Rogan. Photo by Alex Petroski

“Density is part of a plan that will allow us to sustain our local economy,” Cuthbertson responded in a recent debate at TBR News Media offices in Setauket. “We’ve already liberalized the rules of apartments to put apartments over stores in our downtown areas. In Huntington village, it’s been very successful.”

Rather than more housing, Smyth and Leonick said their focus would be outreach to bring large businesses to Melville’s Route 110 business corridor to increase jobs.

“The best path to affordable housing is a bigger paycheck,” Smyth said.

Leonick took it one step further calling for re-evaluation of the town’s comprehensive master plan Horizons 2020.

“The biggest thing we need to do is put the brakes on future development projects until we get a handle on what we need to be doing,” Leonick said.

Both Republican candidates said that if elected, they would focus on improving the status of the town’s roadways and traffic issues. Smyth called the town’s roads “deplorable,” citing Prime Avenue as an example, after utility companies have cut them up to lay wires and infrastructure, calling for changes to town code. Leonick heavily criticized town officials for a lack of parking in Huntington village.

Republican candidate Ed Smyth. Photo by Alex Petroski

“It takes a half hour of driving around to get a spot,” he said. “You can’t continue to develop in the village without solving that problem. We should have had a parking garage a while ago.”

Cuthbertson said the town’s work on a parking garage began two years ago, with a failed attempt at a public-private partnership, but is now moving forward. He pointed to the lack of empty stores downtown as a sign of success.

Rogan agreed that the town’s roadways need change, not more paving, but rather to become more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly. She wants to focus on a public campaign and signage to improve driver awareness.

This artistic rendering depicts what Huntington Station may look like once revitalized. Photo from Renaissance Downtowns

By Sara-Megan Walsh

Efforts to revitalize the southern portion of Huntington Station received a much-needed push forward last week.

Huntington Town Board members voted to approve spending $1.25 million in bond funds received from the Suffolk County Legislature to conduct an extensive sewer study as part of the Huntington Station
revitalization efforts.

The lack of sewers in Huntington Station is one of the areas that is desperately in need of improvement to make revitalization possible, as the land north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Huntington Station is served by the sewer district, but the south side is not, which has limited development and economic opportunities.

“It is the hurdle that prevents development from occurring,” said Ryan Porter, the director of planning and development with Renaissance Downtowns. “It prevents this project from being implemented on the south side.”

Renaissance Downtowns is a nationally-renowned development group chosen by the town to be a master developer of Huntington Station’s revitalization in 2012. Porter said due to the lack of sewer access in the south, the town has been forced to pursue a “dual track” when approaching revitalization efforts. Construction of a mix-used  building at the intersection of Northridge Street and New York Avenue was started this past January while there remain no specific plans yet in place for the south side of town, according to Porter.

The sewer study, which will be conducted by Suffolk County under an inter-municipal agreement, will analyze the existing sewer infrastructure, feasibility and design conditions within Huntington
Station to determine the most efficient way to connect the southern part of the town to existing sewer districts.

The southwest sewer district, which currently serves areas in the Town of Babylon and Town of Islip, currently extends only as north on Route 110 as the Walt Whitman Mall.

Porter said if southern portions of Huntington Station could be hooked into either the southwest sewer district or another system, it would greatly increase the future development potential.

“If an existing building is under performing, [the owner] can only tear down what they have and rebuild the same thing,” Porter said. “There’s very little motivation for people to improve their buildings. If
sewers were available, they could increase the building’s uses which is a financial
justification to rebuild your property.”

Suffolk County has already moved to issue the request for bids from engineering firms interested in undertaking the study.

Huntington Station residents interested in sharing their thoughts and ideas about what they would like to improved or built can visit www.sourcethestation.com. The website contains information on sharing ideas find out about upcoming community meetings.