Three vie for two trustee seats in Head of the Harbor
Current Head of the Harbor trustees Jeffrey Fischer and Daniel White are running for reelection March 21, and newcomer Lisa Davidson is challenging them for one of the seats.
A village resident for more than two years, Davidson has been a representative on the village’s Joint Village Coastal Management Commission, a Suffolk County polling inspector and a volunteer with Island Harvest food bank.
An alum of UCLA, her professional career includes working as a business reporter with the Los Angeles Times and a field producer with Fox News. She has also worked for the National Geographic Society. Currently she is a consultant for those looking to produce their own television projects.
Last year, Davidson and her neighbors fought the proposed construction of a 186-foot private dock on Swan Place in Nissequogue, which, if approved, would have been right next to Cordwood Park and Head of the Harbor.
In a January 2023 The Times of Smithtown Article, “Head of the Harbor resident’s love for village inspires trustee run,” the trustee-hopeful explained her run all comes down to preserving the rustic charm of Head of the Harbor.
“It’s human nature when you’re exposed to something of beauty, you take it for granted instead of realizing, ‘Wow, this is so special,’” she said.
In the article, Davidson said she would work on better budgeting and transparency in the village.
In a recent email, she said while canvassing the village, residents told her they are concerned about possible developments on the Gyrodyne property located on Route 25A, the former Bull Run Farm on Moriches Road and proposed construction on the Timothy House property on Route 25A. She has found that constituents are “united in their opposition.”
“Residents want Head of the Harbor to remain rural,” she said. “Pushing back against all the special exemptions and variances — needed for proposed developments — will be my top priority when I’m elected.”
She added, “We have codes in place now to block all of these threats,” she said. “What we need is the spine to enforce them. Doing the right thing is not necessarily the easy thing. In fact, it is usually the hard thing. Always taking the easy way out is not governing at all. The path of least resistance is not something that interests me.”
Fischer has lived in St. James for nearly 30 years. He is the president and CEO of Atlantic Business Systems, an IT company in Hauppauge that he started 35 years ago. During the past six terms as trustee, he served on the finance board and is responsible for maintaining and balancing the budget.
He has also served on the zoning board of appeals, and for 10 of those 17 years he was chairman of the board.
Fischer was not available to answer questions about this year’s run before press time for this article.
For more than 37 years, White has been a licensed attorney, and he currently has been working as an adjuster on crime claims with a Melville-based insurance company. He said while school and work at times have taken him away from the village, he has considered Head of the Harbor his home since 1964 when his family moved from Smithtown proper.
His past law experience includes serving as assistant district attorney in Kings County. He is also on the executive committee of Preservation Long Island, where he has been involved with the nonprofit dedicated to preserving Long Island’s diverse cultural and architectural heritage for more than 15 years.
White said since he was first elected 10 years ago, the trustees and mayor have worked well together and have accomplished a good deal. Among their accomplishments, he listed sound village finances, minimal tax increases, a good relationship with the St. James Fire District and exemplary service from the police department.
“It’s not an echo chamber,” he said. “It’s not a place where people sit in a room and agree with each other. We figure it out — of the different ways to solve the problem, how do you solve the problem?”
He said everyone’s experience has helped the trustees take on various challenges. White gave the example of Fischer’s financial background helping to keep a balanced budget and keeping taxes under the cap.
As for White, even though he doesn’t practice law for the village, he feels his legal experience has been an asset during his tenure as trustee and current deputy mayor.
“I used what I have learned in 37 years of practicing law to look at problems dispassionately, try to find a solution, try to find the best or least-worst solution.”
Two environmental-related projects concerning Stony Brook Harbor are on the forefront of his mind. He said both projects involve multiple agencies and levels of government.
One is to replace the culvert near the intersection of Harbor Road and Harbor Hill Road. He said the replacement will help to promote the flow of freshwater and to prevent phragmite buildup.
“It would be an important part of restoring the ecological balance to that part of the harbor,” he said.
Another initiative underway is the Cordwood Beach runoff project. He said there are a couple of proposals and the project is at a point where public hearings need to be held, and stakeholders given the opportunity to provide their input.
White compared the village to a salad bowl regarding water runoff, and he said the hope is to keep water from running down the roads out into the harbor.
“Cordwood Path is a pretty classic example because the drop is pretty significant in a very short distance,” he said, adding finding a solution will require innovative thinking.
Residents of the Village of Head of the Harbor can vote Tuesday, March 21, between noon and 9 p.m. at Village Hall located at 500 North Country Road.