This isn’t the time for them to leave their positions, all three members of the Village of Port Jefferson Unity Party said. Work is still to be done.
Mayor Margot Garant has led the village for over a decade. This six-term incumbent locally practices law and her mother, Jeanne Garant, once served as village mayor. The current mayor said that although she’s been doing this for a while, she’s not leaving her post anytime soon — especially under the current COVID-19 situation.
“The basic underlying decision was I felt it would be irresponsible,” she said. “I couldn’t afford to sit down at a time where there’s still so much instability.”
In 2019, she ran against former Suffolk County GOP chairman John Jay LaValle.
“The last election cycle was important, because I was feeling that people are feeling very apathetic and not engaged,” she said. “And it was great that everybody came out, whether they were for or against, because everybody got educated again on what the issues were. They show that they care about this community.”
Running alongside her are trustees Stan Loucks and Kathianne Snaden, who also said there is more to accomplish. Loucks, who has been on the board for almost six years, has oversight of the Port Jefferson Country Club which is owned by the village.
“It’s not a time to leave,” he said. “We’ve got a lot on the plate, and we have a lot of jobs to finish. My own opinion is that I have to stay on and see it through.”
Loucks said his responsibilities as trustee, the country club apart, are the recreation and the parks departments — “all of which have a lot of projects going on right now.”
Some of those projects include the sand dredging at East Beach, finished earlier this month; adding new kayak racks to Crystal Brook Hollow Road beach; and other big projects at the country club.
“What’s really important to understand is even though we have been in this pandemic, the village is running pretty well,” he said. “We haven’t gone all the way to the bottom of the slide. We’ve got our heads above water.”
Snaden, who is in her second year with her position, said she had just started and then the pandemic hit.
“A lot of things that I had started, the brakes went on,” she said. “But we’ve made tremendous headway on public safety issues, which is my biggest department.”
She said that although a global crisis was going on, she was able to help curb crime uptown at the train station and put a fence there.
“The crime up there just plummeted because I just hammered home,” she said.
Garant agreed, adding that while things outside might seem gloomy, she and her team have worked tirelessly to get more projects done.
“As people are coming out of this pandemic now, things are starting to really blossom,” she said. “Things are opening up for us.”
She said that big projects, like the uptown revitalization project, to smaller tenants opening up shop Down Port, she wants to see all of them through.
“We just want to keep doing our good work,” she said.
Garant said that being mayor of the village is “like running a multimillion-dollar corporation, with seven different departments, 9,000 clients — you can’t come in here without the experience.”
She applauded her colleagues for running alongside her.
“You don’t necessarily have to agree with me on everything, but I’m always going to do what’s in the best interests of this village,” she said. “I try my best to come to a happy medium, and I think that’s basically the philosophy of this board — they’re hardworking. These two here are my left and my right.”
Snaden said that although they’re running together, it doesn’t mean they agree on the same things.
“We come from different worlds, and we have those different demographics represented here,” she said. “I think anybody that thinks they can just come in without the experience and the knowledge is not seeing the big picture.”
Loucks said they chose to announce their reelections earlier than normal.
“We came out very early this year, because it’s a different year, things have been kind of treading water for a while,” he said. “We’ve got a lot to do, and it was very important to come out early and start doing it. People know that we’re going to continue — that’s the one thing we all agree on.”