In the Smithtown Fire District, one seat is available on the board of fire commissioners, and incumbent Padraig O’Brien will face challenger Michael Clarke for that seat.
O’Brien is a lifelong resident of Smithtown and local businessman who has operated Chemex, the pool and chemical supply store across from the bull statue, for more than 30 years. He joined the fire department in 1973 and is a member of Rescue Company 9. He has held a seat on the board of commissioners since he was first elected in 2000.
In a statement, he said during this tenure calls to the fire department have increased more than 40%, but “we are better equipped and further ready to handle these requests than ever before.” He also credits the skills he has learned as a businessman such as strong planning, organizational and budgeting skills for maintaining a “fiscally sound approach to district operations.” He said modernizing systems and equipment has led to increasing efficiency and cutting waste.
He added that while on the board he has been pleased with state and county grants the district has procured to alleviate the tax burden on residents as well as maintaining the budgets below the tax cap.
“If reelected, I will use this valuable experience to further advance the goals we have set out to achieve and continue to fight for our paramount objective of providing exceptional service to those we protect,” he said in the statement.
Clarke has been a member of the fire department for 29 years. Prior to joining in 1991, he was involved in the Commack ambulance service, which he joined at 14 years old, for seven years. When he was in his early 20s and lived in Bethpage for a short time, he was a volunteer there.
A lieutenant with the Old Brookville Police Department, this is Clarke’s first time running for fire commissioner. He said part of his work responsibilities is administration which involves implementing and keeping to budgets. With the police department covering six villages, he is accustomed to dealing with several local officials as well as different budgets and working within financial constraints. He also has gained grant-writing experience at his job, which he said is valuable for procuring funds.
“We can see what money and resources are out there,” he said, adding that any financial assistance takes the burden off the taxpayers.
He said with being active in various roles in the Smithtown Fire Department, including company officer and being part of purchasing equipment committees, he’s been involved in many big decision processes. Through his career and volunteer experiences, he has worked with EMS workers, and he said he believes he can bring a better representation of what needs to be implemented for EMS workers on the district side.
Overall, he said he wants to continue with getting the proper equipment the fire department needs, work within the budget and in turn help the taxpayers, as he’s familiar with local taxes after he and his wife, Kim, have raised two children in the area.
“We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” he said.
The Smithtown Fire District will hold its commissioner election Tuesday, Dec. 8, between 4 and 9 p.m. at the Smithtown firehouse located at 100 Elm Ave.